Cisco’s been ahead of the curve for years when it comes to technology and flexibility in the workplace, now the company is taking it to a new level when it comes to connected workspaces. Just step into Building Eight on Cisco’s main campus in San Jose and you’ll see what we mean. You’ll be greeted by modern clean lines, open workspaces and seating that provides flexibility. Gone are the giant cubicle walls and desks filled sky high with paperwork. Instead, you’ll find open environments with more natural light, and setups that allow an employee to drop in, connect and have all the tools they need to succeed.

The new on-site spaces include Quiet Rooms if you need deep focus, Project Rooms for group collaboration, Audio Privacy Rooms for phone calls, and Day Lockers for use during a meeting or lunch. Employees also get IP phones with Extension Mobility and access to conference rooms with Telepresence.

Open Office Space at Cisco's Building Eight
Open Office Space at Cisco’s Building Eight

An Audio Privacy Room

Community Wall at Cisco's Building Eight
Community Wall at Cisco’s Building Eight

Choose What’s Best for You

Cisco is in the midst of a massive overhaul of many of its buildings around the globe to make them a better match for today’s workforce. Other companies are looking at what Cisco is doing, and taking note.

First of all, the policy is work anywhere, anytime and workers choose the work environment that’s best for them at that particular time. That includes telecommuting, flextime and the above mentioned connected workspaces for employees who come into the office.

Candice Balobeck, Solutions Design Manager in Workplace Resources, works on the team responsible for Cisco’s physical environment, the technologies in the workplace, and the policies for things like BYOD. She says old office standards don’t match new work styles. “Few people  do heads- down work for eight hours a day anymore. We want an environment that fits all work styles.”

How Big is Your Emotional Salary?

Companies are trying to attract and retain the best employees in the world, and Balobeck says Cisco has a unique strategy in this arena.

“It’s all about increasing worker engagement. We want every new technology to work on Cisco’s platform, so bring your own technology into the office.  We’re so far ahead because that’s our business, our strategy is driven by our own technology,” says Balobeck.

Part of the “emotional salary” as Balobeck calls it, is allowing employees freedom to do what works best for them. She points to her standing 6am Monday call as an example. Instead of going into the office to take that call, she can do it from home. Balobeck says Cisco can recruit people from anywhere in the world due to its flexible work practices.

Take Your Meetings on the Treadmill

Marc Musgrove on his treadmill.
Marc Musgrove on his treadmill.

Marc Musgrove, on Cisco’s Global Corporate Communications Team, recently pledged (in front of hundreds of his colleagues) to walk six miles a day on his treadmill from home during meetings. Inspired at a health conference, where the takeaway for him was, “stay sedentary and you have a greater chance of dying young,” he pondered how to reach the recommended ten thousand steps a day. After some research, he rigged a setup with an old piece of wood on top of a treadmill to accommodate Telepresence, and a laptop running Jabber. Musgrove says if he walks two miles an hour he can still type. When he is giving a presentation, or input during a meeting he slows down. Musgrove says people initially laugh a bit when they first see him on the treadmill, but his colleagues now take his exercise during work in stride. In fact, at the end of one high level meeting Musgrove was praised for his “energetic contribution.” This is just one case where Cisco’s technology and flexible work policies help people to be productive at work, and in their personal lives.

As Balobeck points out, “This is not about work/life balance, it’s about work/life  integration. Changing the way we work, live, play and learn is in our DNA, and our workplace strategy shows it.”


Kirsten Chiala

No Longer with Cisco

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