The benefits of teleworking—better work/life balance and more flexibility—sure sound great from an employee’s point of view. But from a manager’s perspective, is telework really successful for getting work done? Can a team really be effective if many of the members never work together in person?

Yes, if you create the right policies and environment and give employees the tools they need in order to work productively and be full contributors to their team.

I manage a team of 25 technical IT staff and regularly communicate with the 150 other Cisco employees who have a matrix reporting relationship to my position. Because these employees live in areas around the world, time zone differences are a big challenge for our communications. I simply couldn’t run my global team without telework capabilities because it would be too much of a burden for everyone to go to the office during the often late-night or very-early morning hours needed for our conference calls.

As an IT manager, retaining and developing strong technical talent is a big concern. So I would rather give employees the tools and flexibility they need to do their work in the time and place that’s right for them. And these tools—which include the Cisco Virtual Office solution, Cisco EX 90 personal video endpoints, and the Cisco Jabber client for mobile devices—help my team communicate and collaborate effectively from many locations around the world.

In particular, the tools for video communications make our calls both personal and productive because we can see each other instead of missing the nuances that don’t always come through in an audio-only call.

I use the Cisco solutions to telecommute from my home a few days every week. On the days that I work at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose, I don’t go to a permanently assigned office. Instead, I choose any available desk and hold meetings in any available conference room in the open, flexible-use Cisco Connected Workspace.

At Cisco, employees must receive their manager’s approval to telework full-time and they must agree to the corporate policy that defines responsibilities and expectations. Telework privileges are granted at a manager’s discretion based on the needs of the employee and the job requirements. Every employee’s performance is monitored, and continued telework is reviewed regularly based on their performance. Still, because Cisco has a performance-driven culture, most people are allowed to telecommute by their manager.

Another benefit of telework: Giving Cisco IT and our customer technical support employees full office capabilities at home also helps our capabilities for responding to disasters and ordinary building closures.

For example, when a facilities issue closed their office, the team at our new Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in Poland handled customer calls from home for a day. Employees continued their work without missing a beat and customers didn’t experience any difference in our service.

Telework isn’t just some nice-to-have benefit to offer employees. For Cisco IT, it’s a mission-critical way of working that gives us tremendous payback in terms of employee recruiting and retention, productivity and connectedness for our global teams, and disaster recovery capabilities.

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