In 2017, we conducted a survey around our employees (Cisco Workplace of the Future Report & Cisco Connected Workplace Report) where we found out that flexibility is a top priority. We also learned that 50% collaborate with remote colleagues and 52% of the managers and employees are in different cities. For the last 11 years that I have been with Cisco, I can clearly say, I have never worked in the same country as my manager. Cisco makes it possible to work anywhere with anyone.
At the same time, 60% of Generation Y is nowadays preferring mobile for work and personal use, and the demand for working from anywhere at any time is growing. The work environment is changing into a more flexible model.
At Cisco, we always have been very flexible in the way we work, live and play to have a great employee experience. Over the last couple of years, privacy, data sovereignty and security have become more important but also regulations have been getting more complex. Unfortunately, sometimes the small things have the biggest impact and can cause a lot of damage.
Let me start with a personal example from when I was waiting at the airport in Munich. While sitting in the airport lounge, I attended a few meetings as if I were in the office—on Webex using my iPad Pro, sharing my HD Video and collaborating on various documents. I really enjoyed being fully productive.
With European GDPR being brought into effect on the 25th of May 2018 and having become a certified Data Protection Officer and Auditor over the last year, I suddenly felt very uncomfortable.
Broadcasting my video with many people visible in the background, I realized that I would most probably need to ask them for their informed consent. As this was clearly not possible, I thought about stopping my video, which would impact the meeting experience big time. Thus, I found a way to be compliant and productive while having some fun, too.
With a simple tap of the finger on the Video icon in Webex, the background in my video can be changed. It can be blurred or changed to a different background altogether.
When there is so much happening in the world, a safe haven is necessary. And if you can share your home with your colleagues and become globally connected as if you would sit next to each other, then something big is about to begin. Working from home and sharing your experience with your teammates can become relief for the anxiety and stress for a few moments.
To do that, besides the technical aspects, you need to encourage trust and the fun part for working from home. Video is absolutely key these days and nothing else has a stronger bonding capacity than having a daily 30-minute virtual coffee break for example, or doing yoga or other exercises together, or just share a picture in a #connectedselfies Webex Teams Space. But watch out, sometimes it can be really some good fun too. When attending the next meeting with my manager, he asked me if I was in Asia as he was clearly expecting me to be in Munich :).
Please bear in mind that working from home can mean a lot more time spent on the computer, because there is no commute. There is no one which you just bump into and have a chat, and therefore it is absolutely necessary to:
- Give guidelines and share some best practices
- Recommend people to have breaks, food and exercises
- And most important share as much as possible some funny moments with your co-workers.
Conclusion for me – the devil is in the details. GDPR is a massive topic and many people are working to get it right in all companies. The example above is something that is happening multiple times a day and we have to educate our workforce to be aware. And if we can then offer a simple solution, which is delivering a great user experience – even better!