“I can’t because of work.” How many times have you heard someone say that, or even worse, uttered that phrase yourself? I’m betting it’s been far too many times, and it is soul crushing when you miss out on something that has personal meaning to you “because of work”. At Cisco, it’s different.
I’ve experienced a very different phenomenon in my 11 years at Cisco where I’m able to do all the things that have meaning to me – the volunteer activities, community events, and being there for my family – BECAUSE of work. Thanks to the flexibility that Cisco offers and how they actively support volunteerism and work-life balance; if it’s important to you – it’s important to Cisco. And that makes all the difference to me.
So, what have I been able to do because of that flexibility from Cisco? I have four kids (ages 4-14) and I decided early on that I wanted to take an active role in whatever activities and events they were involved in – whether it be school or sports or whatever else.
On the school side, I’ve chaperoned just about every class trip my kids have been on – from pumpkin patches and museums to the Statue of Liberty and overnight camping. My personal favorite is that I’ve been the “house DJ” for our local elementary school the past few years, overseeing the music & emceeing for all their dances and formals throughout the year!
On the youth sports side, I’ve coached baseball, basketball, and soccer – basically every sport my kids have done. And with soccer, I also served as president of our local non-profit youth sports organization that provides year-round soccer for hundreds of boys & girls in New Jersey. As it’s an entirely volunteer run organization, as president, I was responsible for pretty much everything from financials, marketing & PR to player/parent issues, painting field lines, coaching, and chairing our board meetings – which of course ran on Webex!
You’re probably reading all this and wondering two things…
1. How many hours do you spend on these activities? I honestly couldn’t even tell you how many hours I’ve volunteered across these many activities but it’s like having a second job.
2. How do you balance it with work? Cisco allows me to do all this with a few key benefits:
- This year, Cisco has given employees a whopping EIGHTY hours that we can use for volunteer work at nonprofits and around our community. We’re told – “It’s Your Time. Your Cause. Your Passion.” I have made great use of those hours over the years – especially for events & activities that are held during the weekday or that I couldn’t do after normal work hours like chaperoning field trips.
- Cisco’s Work/Life Integration. I’m sure you’ve heard people say the 9-5 job is dead, and it’s been replaced by something much more balanced – something that works best (and uniquely) for each employee. I love that I’m not confined to working during a specific window as some of my most productive working time is after 10pm when my kids are in bed. I may be on calls with customers and colleagues from APJC when no one else in my house is awake or I may step out during lunch in between calls to paint the lines on a soccer field for the games the upcoming weekend. (Which is a great way to not only volunteer but also to mentally decompress and get a few extra steps in!)
Plus, with tools like messaging in the Webex app and asynchronous video with VidCast, we have lots of collaboration options that are not just synchronous/real time.
- Being a remote worker. I’ve worked from home for the past 11 years – since my first day at Cisco. When I’m not traveling (which seems like a distant memory at this point!), my commute is walking down a flight of stairs to my basement office. The amount of time I save not having to commute adds up fast – and those are hours that I use much more productively (like spending time with my family) than sitting in horrendous New Jersey traffic!
This is one reason we’re seeing such a great rise in hybrid work. Many workers who left the office and finally got to experience this flexibility over the past year and half fell in love with it, and they’re not eager to give it up and return to the office.
- Support from my management chain. Having the policies is one thing. Having management that actively supports those policies is another. I have had a great experience at Cisco where my management chain has fully supported me in my various volunteer areas. There’s a reason Cisco is always at the top of the Best Places to Work surveys – and it’s not just because of our policies; it’s because our people up and down the hierarchy live and breathe our culture of flexibility.
It takes A LOT of time and dedication to volunteer this much and be this involved. ALL these activities are important to me and provide me with a deep sense of fulfillment in life. But NONE of this would have been possible without the flexibility and support from Cisco. It’s what makes me proud and thankful that Cisco has not only led in technology but focuses on their people and leads in work/life balance, flexibility, and remote/hybrid work.
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Great article Chris!
Thank you, Luca! And thank you for being such a great colleague that helps make this all happen! None of this works unless there are people on the team willing & capable to step up when people are away for non-work activities! People use the term my “Cisco family” – and I TOTALLY get that!
Love this, Chris! As a new parent I am encouraged to hear your experience balancing work and life. Yet another reason to love it here!
Congrats on being a new parent! Soooo much to try to balance and the flexibility in terms of HOW we work, WHERE we work, and WHEN we work is vital in making it all fit. But that is literally what Cisco’s (and more specifically, Webex’s) goal is! And it results in people being much happier. And studies have shown, happy workers are more productive.
Great post Chris. I completely agree with you on the many hours saved avoiding traffic in NJ.
Thanks, Manny! And I know you’ve seen both ends of the spectrum – which I think makes people like us appreciate this flexibility even more!
Glad to see you publish your thoughts on this. We started at Cisco together on the same team and I’ve followed your journey in life since. From your posts and pics it is clear you’ve been successful in a hybrid working environment for your family, community and Cisco. My license plate from early career is FAMLYMAN which symbolizes always being there for your family yet being able to give your all to your profession. Cisco provides the culture to do just that. It would be interesting to see the productivity comparison for all of the things we do in life daily in various working models…
Keep the pics coming coach!
Travis! Good hearing from you and thanks so much for the comment! And FAMLYMAN – ❤️ it!! It’s so great that at Cisco it’s not just my blog, my story. It’s that multiplied by tens of thousands… You are 100% right on – the culture that Cisco provides supports all of it.
Like the article, Chris.
An inspiring and shining example of why Cisco is no#1 place to work and current/Next-Gen hybrid working culture at Cisco.
Are you gonna be the Ted Lasso of Cisco 🙂 ?
LOL… thank you! And hey, maybe I should try to be the Ted Lasso of Cisco. “Webex is Life”! 🤣
Next big catch phrase for Cisco haha
Bravo Chris! Thank you for leading the way… #WeAreCisco
Thanks, Mark! And yeah, it’s something reading all of these incredibly diverse and impressive #WeAreCisco stories! We all do some amazing things both in and out of work! Some really great people here.
Well spent hours and months Chris!
I can mirror and encourage your soccer activity as being a soccer coach myself, for 15 year old Norwegian soccer players. During the Covid pandemic, as a healthy step outside our home offices, I got to spend 4-5x per week with the boys on the field. A lot of hrs over time, but not much every day. The time spend with sport kids are just a great kick. They gave me a lot in return, even if mye hours spent are severe (with joy) over many months.
Being able to also utilise the Cisco “Giving back” program at certain soccer boot camp trips is great. This involved keeping these boys physically but also mentally healthy, is also of great value when it comes to battle the aftermath of the pandemic. The pandemic put/puts a strain on the kids and youths mental wellbeing – these activities created keep sports/soccer kids at a better distance from those potential problems.
Take care – and keep going Chris 😉 – Kind regards – Jens – Cisco Oslo (Will send you a special picture).
That is fantastic! And yeah, soccer has been our life saver during the pandemic! I’m so thankful my boys have had that outlet – basically uninterrupted the entire time. Even better that Cisco has supported our ability as parents/coaches to make that happen for so many children, including our own! If I make it out to Oslo, we’ll have to connect!
Chris, couldn’t have said it any better myself. When how other people are working from home and what they use to connect and collaborate with, I am reminded how lucky we are to work for Cisco and use all the great technology we offer.
Yes – that’s a GREAT point. It’s not just that Cisco has these flexible policies to support hybrid work – Cisco literally makes the software and hardware that ENABLES all of it in the first place!
I always heard this sort of lifestyle was possible, but it wasn’t until I joined Cisco that I learned its not just make believe. Being able to duck out for 45 mins to do a turkey trot with the kids at school, attend a Veterans Day ceremony honoring their granddad (my dad), being able to high five them as they get off of the bus every day? NONE of that was in the perks to working at Cisco handouts I got, but they’ve quickly become some of the best perks Cisco ‘offers’!
YESSS!! 100%. Some of that stuff may not sound like a big deal- but that stuff is EVERYTHING. And it’s priceless. It’s also fleeting! If you miss that now, you miss it forever. The linear work day is dead / dying – which is a great thing. And with the tools support this new way of working – which includes asynchronous collaboration – it’s certainly time.
Great article, Chris!
I just love the pumpkin photo <3
Pumpkin picking pro-tip: Go during the week and you have the whole pumpkin patch to yourself!! 😜
I’d like to echo the same; working remotely at Cisco has meant that I’m able to be there for my primary schooler daughter when she needs me; for instance, I love that I pick up her straight from school every evening and bring her back home, rather than leaving her at afterschool club, only to come home for a quick hour before she goes to bed.
Love it, Sid! Prior to Cisco there were so many times when I’d leave the house in the morning for work before my kids were up and return home when they were in bed. I could go the whole work week and not seen them. That’s not the way it should be. Now, sometimes I feel like I see my kids TOO much…LOL…
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