When I say I work for Cisco Systems, here are a couple of things most people don’t expect:

  • I’ve run a small business for a long time (although at this point, it’s more like tiny than small).
  • I’ve worked remotely for most of my career, even though I live in the middle of nowhere.

One of the key reasons I joined Cisco was because I could work from home. And because I’ve owned my own company, I have particular empathy for Cisco small business customers and the changes they’ve had to make to work remotely. For a lot of us, the home office is wherever the work happens, whether it’s the kitchen table, a kid’s bedroom, study, basement, hallway nook, or closet. (Some small home offices can be really small, but people make it work.)

Working from home with a catAs we all know, the number of people working from home has skyrocketed due to the global pandemic and the need to maintain social distancing requirements. But Cisco was supporting work from home employees long before the COVID-19 virus arrived. At the moment, almost everyone at Cisco is working from home, but because of the company’s support for remote workers, we already had the tools we need to work from home successfully.

The bad news is that a lot of small businesses weren’t as prepared for this massive change in work style as we were here at Cisco. So they’ve had to scramble to figure out how to get their employees set up at home. But the good news is that Cisco has renewed its commitment to the small business market with the Cisco Designed portfolio. Small businesses can get enterprise-grade technology with affordable pay-as-you-go pricing.

So many choices

Small business owners faced with the need to transition to working from home can choose from a wide range of communication, productivity, and cybersecurity tools. By selecting the right software solutions, employees can remain productive and businesses can keep their virtual doors open even when their physical doors are closed.

But what are the right solutions?

No one wants to have to become an IT expert to work effectively from home. Businesses that make the shift to remote work need simple, intuitive tools. Employees need to be able to get up to speed and productive in the shortest time possible. And when you’re setting up a small home office, it’s critically important that everything is secure.

Cloud-based collaboration

When employees start working from home, the first question is inevitably how are we going to communicate now? Although I’m the first one to extol the virtues of remote work, you can’t just drop by the desk of a colleague to collaborate or give an in-person status report to management.

The solution: cloud-based communication and collaboration tools like Cisco Webex.

Webex offers an array of collaboration solutions that integrate with the tools you use every day. It includes scalable phone solutions (VoIP technology) meeting solutions/accessories, and intelligent video conferencing devices that can help extend the reach, power, and impact of your meetings.

The best thing about Webex is that it was built with security in mind from the beginning. That means your video conferences aren’t subject to “bombing” and you don’t have to worry about your confidential company data being leaked all over the Internet.

Webex comes with full end-to-end encryption for all-around protection of your messaging, screen sharing, audio, and video communications. It delivers high-quality video experiences on the go or from your home desk that feel like in-person interactions. And Webex Teams is fully integrated with popular third-party apps from vendors like Salesforce, Google, and Microsoft to so you can collaborate easily across your small business.

Cloud-based security

No one would argue with the fact that cyberattacks are on the increase. With more people working from home, malicious actors and cybercriminals are actively searching for vulnerabilities to steal and exploit business and personal data. To stay safe, small business owners should consider these robust data security solutions:

  • Cisco Umbrella acts as the first line of defense against cyber threats and can help fend off attacks by preventing employees from inadvertently accessing malicious URLs.
  • Duo Security verifies users’ identities before giving them access to protected applications. By leveraging a zero-trust model, Duo Security reduces the likelihood of a security breach within your network.
  • AnyConnect® Secure Mobility Client provides secure endpoint access to internal networks.

Using these cloud-based solutions, employees can securely stay connected to colleagues, teammates, management, and business partners.

Wireless access points

Wireless access points help facilitate safe, secure communication among remote employees. Cisco offers a wide range of cloud-managed or on-premises wireless access points to suit your remote working situation.

All of the work-from-home solutions in the Cisco Designed portfolio are curated specifically for small businesses and offer enterprise-grade security for end-to-end encryption, compliance, and secure communication.

Pay-as-you-go helps cash flow

Opting for cloud-based work-from-home solutions is not only good for your productivity, it’s also good for your bottom line. The “pay as you go” model means that you don’t have to make big upfront investments in technology. You can spread out your IT costs and add capability, features, and services as needed.

The subscription model makes it easier to optimize your cash flow, stay competitive, remain agile, and thrive despite today’s economic challenges.

With powerful collaboration and security solutions from Cisco, small business owners can make sure that employees stay connected and productive no matter where they’re located.

For more information about setting up a small home office that’s optimized for work at home life, check out the Cisco Designed solutions page.


Susan Daffron

No Longer with Cisco