Together is Better, In Person and VirtuallyContributors: Celia Maria Goudsmit - Gomes Veiga
Cisco technology helps our teams work together across the globe. So you may have heard a rumor or two that many Cisco employees work remotely, and that’s true! Not only does Cisco technology help us to perform meetings and stay on task, but it keeps us connected as well.
When my manager told us that our yearly all-hands was going to be virtual, however, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed at first. I am the only Cisco recruiter on our team based in Madrid, so that would mean being “alone” during our all-hands when I had been looking forward to spending some time with my colleagues face-to-face.
Celia, who is also on my team and in a similar boat being the only Talent Acquisition team member in Amsterdam, felt similar and shared, “Having the all hands virtually, to me means, just like every day – being physically alone but online using Cisco technology to be present together with my colleagues. I knew, however, that because we worked so seamlessly together through Cisco collaboration tools every day – this all-hands was still going to be very good. Just different.”
After learning about the virtual all-hands, I thought, “Why not travel and attend from the Budapest office if someone else from the team would be willing to do the same?” And, so…we DID!
The flexibility Cisco provides its employees is amazing, and I love that we’re able to work from any location. I met two colleagues in Budapest and our all-hands became a mix of virtual and in-person meetings!
While Celia was unable to join us in Budapest, she was still able to join virtually in her own telepresence room, “I was sad not to be able to go to Budapest and see this beautiful city and join members of our team there, but with our technology I was still able to participate, of course! We were 15 people located all over the world – some in a group in person, others just by themselves. The UK, Netherlands, Hungary, Dubai, Poland and Switzerland, we were all there!”
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The logistics were perfectly organized for our all-hands as a box of cupcakes was the first thing we found in our meeting rooms, accompanied by a bag of several products like sweeties, a fidget cube, a coffee cup, a light-box message board, and the book “Together is Better” by Simon Sinek.
The most exciting thing for both of us, however, (and I am sure the entire team) was to find an envelope with notes of appreciation from different people we have worked with. The notes put a smile on our faces and we felt SO lucky to work at Cisco where people are truly first! It was a very inspirational moment for us all to see how our work is valued.
The all-hands agenda was focused on team building, participation, brainstorming and process improvements – but in a fun and positive way! Thanks to Cisco WebEx, this experience was much better than we could have anticipated as we sometimes even forgot that we were in different cities and countries. It felt like we were all in the same room together!
To top this all off, before the second day was over, we even did a fun VIRTUAL painting session! Each of us was given a canvas, set of paint brushes, a palette and paints and a USA-based artist guided us through creating our masterpieces. How amazing is that? It was the first time for her to instruct the class virtually and, for most of us, it was our first-time painting!
This activity showed such incredible innovation; it was done step-by-step – learning; following up, asking and answering questions, and even mentoring. What else could we ask for?
The goal of this unique experience was to have fun together, to bond further, and to create a one-of-a-kind painting based on the same example and instruction that everyone followed. We were extremely WOW’d in how this moment spoke to so much of what Cisco employees are, and it was incredible to see how everyone interpreted the instruction and how their paintings became representative of who they are as individuals too! No two paintings were the same!
This is also what we, as recruiters, look for in future Cisco employees – unique, diverse people that are able to innovate, bring new ideas to Cisco, and work as a team with the same core values. We love that you can be you, with us here too! Your individual passions are encouraged, because they make our teams stronger. 😀
Both Celia and I, after reflecting on our virtual offsite, could not feel more grateful to be part of the Cisco International Family. As Simon Sinek says, “The mind can be convinced but the heart must be won.” This experience has truly won our hearts.