One year ago, our world changed. In the early parts of March 2020, I was very nervous. I did not know what to expect and every source I turned to for updates made me panic even more. Luckily, very early on, Cisco was prepared and when I received one of the first emails from our CEO Chuck Robbins – I felt my adrenaline and the resulting tension ease. 

Rashmi sitting at desk working

Cisco was here for us, and it is because of their response and support that I made my way through the past 12 months. They quickly instituted weekly (then bi-weekly) check-ins for all employees – this gave me something to look forward to each time it was on my calendar. 

Here are the 5 ways Cisco helped me remain calm with our weekly check-ins. 

1. Medical Experts Cisco’s medical directors, Dr. Jeffrey Davis and Dr. Lawrence Kwan, enlightened me on the facts of our current situation, best safety practices, and global updates they became a trustworthy source of information that I could lean on. Because of their guidance, I found the confidence I needed to safely go grocery shopping or to Cisco’s Life Connections Health Center as I knew I was better prepared.

2. Surprise Guests Our check-ins featured surprise guests that helped to provide a nice break with a motivating speech, inspiring information, or just a fun song we could enjoy. This was a welcomed, entertaining distraction that also helped to keep my mind fresh.

3. Physical Fitness & Mental Health Focus Working from home is truly a gift in this world, and thanks to Cisco technology – we’re not only able to work remotely, but we’re quite used to it too. But 2020 was difficult for us all in a variety of ways. Many of us were also home alone or challenged by more sedentary lives. Cisco stepped up here too with discussions that focused on guidance for our fitness and activity level, mental health and resilience, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression and even our sleep!

4. An Inclusive Future for All – Not only did Cisco create moments to provide a bit of relief throughout the year and focus on our overall health and wellness. But these check-ins also helped educate us and begin difficult conversations around social justice. As I identify as a Lesbian, it also means a lot to me when Cisco changes their logo to the rainbow variant during Pride month or to see that our Executive Leadership Team is 40% female. We’re not just out to say that we are a diverse company, no – our goal is to create an inclusive future for all. We walk the walk and talk the talk.

5. Focus on You In this new world, it was easy to forget what day or time or month it was. We worked non-stop, around the clock. Answering emails just before bed, checking Webex Teams before making our way to the coffee machine. These may seem like small, insignificant moments to just get a tiny bit of work off or plate – but they add up. Cisco’s leadership made it a point to ensure that we were not burning out – “focus on you” was a theme heard loud and clear for may of us. And coming from our executives, who also let us know how they prioritized time for themselves, it signaled to all employees that stepping away to walk the dog, or to take a moment for meditation or exercise were moments well spent.

These check-ins not only gave many Cisco employees something to look forward to, but they also gave us a place to go and connect with one another. The became a counseling session for me – one filled with concern, respect, moments of laughter and tears – and showed me the heart of this company. 

In-turn I was able to better prepare myself, and those around me 


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Rashmi Sathawane