“Hybrid work allows us to redefine what’s possible by bringing out the very best of work by
empowering flexibility, choice, and inclusion for both employers and employees alike.”
— Francine Katsoudas, EVP & Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer
At Cisco, we’ve been ‘living hybrid’ for quite some time. Remote working and virtual collaboration are nothing new to us, but we also recognize that delivering on what hybrid work requires for success is not easy. We’ve been learning how to deliver the level of agility your organization needs in a way that’s inclusive, secure, and sustainable.
The workplace and office environment have been upended for more than two years, with an uncertain future ahead. Some organizations transformed almost overnight from being more than 95 percent onsite and campus-based to more than 98 percent home-based just to continue operating during the pandemic. At Cisco, we made our transition to remote work in just 10 days.
Amidst all the changes, one thing is crystal clear: We’ve entered a transitional phase in the future of work.
Flexibility, agility, inclusivity
Instead of designing work solely around locations, we must now design the work experience for and around the worker, a user-centric design – wherever they are. Hybrid Work is about empowering people to work onsite, off site, and in mixed mode – moving between locations on any given day or time. Work, after all, is what you do, not a place you go. Cisco also has new policies and guidelines to help employees make the most of their hybrid work experiences.
To assess the scale of the change, between January and March 2022, we launched a global hybrid work survey of full-time workers (28,025) across 27 markets in 6 continents (excluding Antarctica)* and we found that:
- Eight out of ten (83.3 percent) say they have learned, grown, and succeeded in their roles over the past two years
- Three out of four agree their role can now be performed remotely
- There is a broad range on what the future of work looks like:
- 71.2 percent want a combination of remote and onsite hybrid working model
- 20 percent want a fully remote working experience
- 8.6 percent want to be in offices full-time
- Collaboration technology is playing a role in employee career development and progression
- 51.6 percent think technology makes it easier to speak and be heard
- 54.6 percent believe they feel more confident during virtual meetings
- 50 percent of respondents also enjoyed seeing their colleagues’ families and pets via virtual meeting.
We’ve long talked about the importance of delivering an optimum digital experience for both our internal and external customers. Delivering excellent user experiences, more flexible working styles, and the level of inclusivity expected to our employees, reduces a real risk that we’ll lose some of our top talent to competitors.
In hybrid work models, if employees don’t get a full office experience from home, there’s a good chance they’ll no longer be busy doing the right things to deliver business outcomes. However, if you try and drive a return-to-office too quickly, you may find the cost of sustaining stopgap measures becomes unmanageable. It’s a fine line to tread.
In addition to the above challenges, assuring compliance and securing corporate applications and data becomes even more challenging. Employees connect from anywhere – potentially using their own devices and home networks. It goes without saying that a breach can inflict significant financial and reputational damage on your organization. So how do we overcome these challenges?
We are cultivating hybrid work in two distinct ways.
Enabling a Hybrid Workforce
Every one of our employees will conduct hybrid work no matter where they work. By providing secure access and collaboration from anywhere, anytime, we are maximizing employees’ engagement, empowerment, and well-being – wherever they work.
We’ve learned that workstyles and work preferences are different for everyone, so we must be flexible, adaptable, and open to what works best for each individual and team. This means providing solutions that empower workers to be engaged and productive anywhere; solutions that can provide us with visibility across the entire IT environment, including things like home Wi-Fi and service provider networks because we need to make management and end-user support easier and more effective.
And of course, we need to be able to assure security, control, and governance across user devices, networks, clouds, and applications.
Transforming Hybrid Workspaces
We’re unifying networking, security, and collaboration tools to enhance health and well-being, as well as assuring safety.
Employees are concerned about touching shared office devices, and things like social distancing and cleanliness. For example, in offices that have staff on site, cleaning protocols have been set to ensure common areas and touch points are frequently disinfected. We are complying with local requirements and assuring employee well-being with regards to vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and social distancing. In addition to safety and health, we are improving our work environments with intelligent workplace technology.
We’re using Cisco DNA Spaces, Cisco Meraki cameras, and Webex conferencing and collaboration endpoints to help monitor real-time space occupancy against reduced capacity levels. We’re also using our technology to display alerts when a space exceeds allowed occupancy and, in the future, monitor and display air quality levels.
Using technology to empower a workforce and transform workspaces delivers greater organizational agility, which means the ability to be efficient, resilient, and adaptable wherever and whenever needed. But these are only part of the solution to hybrid work. We’re also focusing on other factors, such as:
- Real estate. Work has fundamentally changed, so our physical space must change too. For example, moving from individual workspaces to more purposeful spaces where our people can connect, collaborate, and innovate.
- Sustainability. We’re rethinking space utilization, developing sustainable and regenerative products, and designing energy-efficient and carbon-reducing buildings. An inclusive future of work must be a sustainable future of work.
- Borderless talent. We need to have people available 24 hours a day, so a ‘follow the sun’ approach is necessary. And it shouldn’t matter where people are, just that they can do the job.
Our technology roadmap is focused on bringing together workforce and workspaces with solutions that are inclusive, flexible, supportive, secure, and managed.
In short, there is no one size fits all. Good hybrid solutions must be adaptable and open to what works best for each individual and team. And remember: Work is not where you go. It’s what you do.
Explore the full Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study 2022
Learn about our Cisco Hybrid Work Index
Thank you, Jacqui, for sharing these insights from your Hybrid Work study. You said, “if you try and drive a return-to-office too quickly, you may find the cost of sustaining stopgap measures becomes unmanageable.”
My question is, why mandate a ‘return-to-office’ at all? Why not give your valued employees the choice to adopt a flexible working model that fits their lifestyle? Frankly, I’m puzzled that CEOs and others in the C-suite within the financial services sector, and other legacy business groups, continue to adopt HR policies that are already proven to fuel what’s being referred to as the ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon. Spoiler Alert: the future of work is flexible. Resisting this forward-looking talent trend is very unwise.
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