Cisco’s Hybrid Work Model Offers “Flexibility, Choice, Wellness And Inclusion”

By Jack Kelly, Contributor
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 21: Cisco Systems Senior Vice President Francine Katsoudas addresses the audience during the Watermark Conference For Women 2016 at San Jose Convention Center on April 21, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Watermark Conference for Women 2016) getty

Francine Katsoudas is the executive vice-president and chief people, policy and purpose officer of Cisco, a worldwide leader in technology that powers the internet. She oversees Cisco’s conscious culture and contributes to the company’s overall performance. In light of the challenges associated with the Covid-19 outbreak, Katsoudas is highly concerned about the mental health and well-being of her employees.

Chuck Robbins, chair and CEO of Cisco, said, “We’re truly at a unique time, with the ability to redefine work.” Robbins added, “All employees around the world want a workplace that enables them to do their best, and it is our responsibility as business leaders to learn how best to support and enable our employees, however and wherever they work.”

Katsoudas wants to offer the power of choice to her employees. “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.” A sizable percentage of Cisco employees work remotely. There are around 800 professionals who work four-days a week for 32 hours.

To ensure that employees are looked after, Cisco has a decentralized team approach. A team leader will collaborate with their staff to mutually explore the best work options that’s right for them. The team leader will check in regularly to ensure that both in-office and remote employees are kept engaged and in the loop. There is a focus on output and results—not hours spent in front of a screen showing face time. About once a quarter, everyone meets up together.

During online video meetings, the lifeline for many to keep in touch with managers and colleagues, only about 48% of participants are comfortable speaking. Some say that there are too many meetings and it's hard to get their assignments completed. These issues give rise to leaders interceding and the offering of asynchronous options, so that employees can watch the meetings when they have the appropriate time available and not feel pushed into attending.  

Cisco's Global Hybrid Work Index gathers data from people, technology and businesses to identify emerging global work trends. It harnesses “insights from millions of aggregated and anonymized customer data points” from Cisco's properties, platforms and surveys from nearly 40,000 respondents spanning 34 countries.   

Here are some of the highlights of Cisco's newly launched first Global Hybrid Work Index:

  • People want choice and the hybrid workplace increases employee loyalty: 64% agree that the ability to work remotely instead of coming into an office directly affects whether they stay or leave a job. However, there is also uncertainty whether employers will realize the potential of hybrid work. Only 47% think that their company will allow working from anywhere versus in-office over the next six to 12 months.
  • Flexibility and Wellness are key drivers for hybrid work: An overwhelming majority of respondents agree that personal health and wellness, along with flexible work arrangements, are non-negotiables, as we move into the future of hybrid work. 
  • Hybrid work drives a surge in on-the-go meetings: Pre-pandemic, people used mobile devices 9% of the time to connect to their meetings. In a hybrid work world, this number tripled and is now at 27%. 
  •  Meetings abound, but not everyone “participates” the same way: More than 61 million meetings take place globally every month via Cisco Webex. And in any one of them, only 48% of participants are likely to speak. In addition, 98% of meetings have at least one person joining remotely—increasing the need for inclusion and engagement of remote participants, so that they feel equal to their peers on site.
  •  Hybrid work means increased access to diverse talent: 82% of survey respondents agree that access to connectivity is critical to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the importance of ensuring everyone has equal access to jobs, education and healthcare opportunities. Increased connectivity access will empower people to work for any company in the world and companies to source the best talent regardless of location.
  • AI is not coming for your job; AI is at the center of the future of work: Over 200% growth in usage of AI capabilities from July through September 2021 points toward people’s desire for improved meeting engagement. This includes meeting features like noise reduction, automatic translation and transcriptions, polling and gesture recognition—making it easier for people to engage in conversation, whether they’re virtual or in-room.

One of the positive aspects arising from the ashes of the devastation caused by the virus outbreak is the change in mindset of corporate leadership. A bottoms-up style of management has emerged. Companies are listening to their employees and taking bold actions and initiatives on their behalf. In a war-for-talent and ‘Great Resignation’ environment, businesses are offering choices such as remote and hybrid work models, flexibility, abbreviated workweeks, actively promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, wellness programs and empathy.


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