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What We’ve Learned About Telework at Cisco

In late September 2010, a Cisco employee somewhere in the world became the 20,000th to begin using Cisco Virtual Office at home.  Cisco Virtual Office, which combines a small business router and IP phone, extends the enterprise wired and wireless network right into our homes. Telework is optional in most cases at Cisco, so the 20,000 milestone underscores the fact that our workforce and the company see the value of telework, and that we have the tools to make it work.

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Mighty Stephen Hawking, CVO and Hedging Your Bets

Stephen Hawking, a brilliant author and physicist, earlier this year explained that the human race’s sole hope for long term survival is for us to spread our bets by colonizing space, thus eliminating a potential single point of failure (Earth) which could be the end of us all. Smart guy. When we build networks, best practices dictate not having single points of failure, so why not architect the survival of the species in a similar way?

A bit extreme, arguably requiring some technology that doesn’t exist yet, but similar things can be said about businesses. Replace the planet with an office and Stephen Hawking’s theories start to fit.

Let me explain.

Here at Cisco, we not only believe in teleworking, or working from home, but we also manufacture equipment to support such efforts, such as our Cisco Virtual Office package. Just like humanity with all of our eggs in the Earth basket, in the past, businesses used to place all of their eggs in the office basket. No office, no work, no company. Fire? Blizzard? Flood? Pandemic? Sorry, you are down, perhaps out of business.

Solutions like the Cisco Virtual Office (CVO), where the teleworker has wireless data, IP telephony and video protected with encryption and QoS, allow businesses to provide employees with the bonus of being able to work from home.  This is a competitive differentiator from the HR perspective, but it also allows companies to hedge their bets and put the company in a far stronger disaster recovery/risk management/business continuity position by ensuring that no single event outside of a comet strike or a nuclear war would completely shut the business down because the people doing the work are geographically dispersed, safe, sound and able to work from home.

Professor Hawking (who by the way, is said to have enjoyed not only appearing on the Simpsons but also his rap alter ego the MC “Mighty Stephen” Hawking) is a smart guy.  He worries about things like dinosaur killer comets. The rest of us may be tempted to leave the big thinking to others, but winter is coming and brings snow storms and bad weather. Remember swine flu? Sure, the world is unlikely to end tomorrow, but how unlikely is a flood, a blizzard or a bad flu variant this month, this winter or next year?

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