It’s 25 years ago and I’m in the midst of my original career, as a newspaper reporter. I live and work in northern Los Angeles County, and the region has recently been rocked by the Northridge Earthquake. Caught in the widespread damage are my apartment and the City Hall building containing my office (and desktop computer), so I’ve been shuffling from one makeshift workspace to the next.

A cell phone and laptop computer aren’t standard gear for me in 1994, which means my post-earthquake days involve doing several in-person interviews and later calling my handwritten stories into the paper’s San Fernando Valley office. I worked out of a phone booth for a few days, then a motel room for a couple of weeks, and I’ve just settled into the new base of operations my bosses secured for me.

At a car dealership.

Rumor is the dealership got a price break on some ads in exchange for use of the space for a few months. True or not, here I am. (There’s no giant inflated gorilla on the roof or air dancers at the entrance, which is almost disappointing.) My work area is one of four narrow, glass-walled offices containing a desk, a chair and a telephone, and someone has setup two computers for me and a co-worker to write and file stories. It reminds me of a terrarium, but the space is away from any price-haggling and the equipment works, so all is good.

I’m soon doing a phone interview (with a city council candidate, if I recall correctly), until the conversation is suddenly overridden by “BOB GARCIA, LINE ONE. BOB GARCIA, YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER ON LINE ONE.”

If someone did adjust our ad rates, I really hope they accounted for the intercom.

A better employee experience

I was reminded of my phone booth, motel, and dealership “offices” as I listened to a recent conversation with Janet Ramey and Mike Mitchell, from Cisco’s Employee Services organization. They’re making sweeping improvements to the everyday experiences of Cisco employees worldwide.

The scope of the effort is huge. Cisco has tens of thousands of employees and contractors in an array of roles, geographic locations and workplaces. How do you approach transforming the employee experience for such a large and diverse group?

Listen to Transforming the Employee Experience from Cisco’s Beyond the Network podcast, to hear Janet and Mike talk about why it’s important for companies to improve employee experiences, the challenges they’ve encountered, and lessons they’ve learned.

You can find the entire Beyond the Network series from either link above. Check back regularly for new episodes or, even better, subscribe and like the podcast on SoundCloud or iTunes.