Three Continents in One Afternoon: Why I Work from Home

There have been a lot of reactions to Yahoo’s decision to eliminate home working for its employees, and now it’s my turn to weigh in. As I see it, balance is key. I can’t imagine working from home all the time because I get far too much positive energy and enjoyment from the open environment in my physical office location. But as a leader, I also can’t imagine how I would stay connected to the people I partner with across the globe if I didn’t spend Monday afternoons in my home office.

How many business leaders would like to be connected more globally to be able to sync up with subject matter experts and decision makers regardless of geography? That’s what telepresence in my home office gives me. On most Mondays, my day is set up specifically to connect with IT experts and leaders in other parts of the world. Our meetings usually start in the early afternoon (my time) and go until nine or ten at night.

Most Cisco employees who work from home offices have the benefit of high-definition video through solutions such as Cisco Virtual Office, which means we enjoy a very high-quality meeting experience.

Imagining life without working from home, would I really have the energy to stay in the office that late, commute 45 minutes, and then get up early the next morning? Instead, I have the opportunity to rotate my talks with different folks in the Asia Pacific region over high-quality video, with my colleagues using a Cisco TelePresence unit, Cisco Jabber video, or WebEx high-def video.

A typical Monday often starts with a call to the east coast to discuss US and Canada field strategy, then it’s back to San Jose for a meeting with one of my local peers. After that I get to the best part.  Without suffering any airport stress, I can be in a short meeting with an IT manager in Japan, and next (after a quick break for tea and a biscuit) I can meet with someone in Australia–or maybe New Zealand.

I then commute about 30 feet for a great meal with the best company in the world (thanks to my wife, Sondra), and after that I’m off to Singapore for a business meeting. While the evening is still young, I stop in India to meet with our CIO of Asia.

Soon after, I tidy up a few loose ends, beer in hand, and call it a night. Not even a hint of jet lag, and no lost bags, dry cleaning bills, breakfasts or lunches in cafeterias–and zero hours lost in traffic.

And here is the very best part… On certain Mondays, guess what I get to do until noon? Watch my three-month-old grandson, Bryce. Talk about changing the way we live and work.

Many Cisco employees are sharing my positive work-at-home experience. In a recent survey we conducted, we found half of the respondents were more productive at home then in the office.  We have seen attrition rates at half of normal among our remote workers, and 80% of our employees rate teleworking as “very important” for employee satisfaction. For each hour of commute avoided, Cisco gains 40 minutes of employee productivity.

Bottom line, when I hear leaders at other companies say that productivity and working from home are mutually exclusive, I just smile… and then I share.

Be sure to also check out Sheila Jordan’s blog: How Not Where is What Matters Most in a Collaborative Work Environment.