Categories: Hybrid Work

Have you been looking at hybrid work all wrong?

Here’s the inside scoop on how Cisco leads hybrid work

by Chris Barwick, VP of Strategy & GTM | Connie Dudum, Director of People & Communities

Offices have been opening. Everyone is talking about return to work and companies continue to change the rules. People are confused. What should organizations do to handle hybrid work challenges?

Hybrid work is not onsite vs. offsite. It’s not days of the week in the office vs. home. It’s not about the hours you work. It’s that and more. It’s about leadership capabilities, team norms, people practices, workplace, company culture, talent attraction and retention, the innovation and work to be done – and the technology that enables this new way of working regardless of where or when employees are working.

What most leaders are thinking about is return to office in terms of mandatory days of the week employees must be onsite. If you think hybrid is as simple as onsite vs. remote work, or days of the week in the office, you have it all wrong.

In short, Cisco is a leader in hybrid work because we believe it is the intersection of People, Business Outcomes, and Technology.

And why listen to us? There is no single authority on hybrid work, and nobody has all the answers. But we do have unique insights that we want to share with customers so they can be more successful in the hybrid workplace.

For the last 15 years, our collaboration solutions have helped people work in a hybrid manner. Cisco was ranked the #1 Best Place to Work in the United States two years in a row and we have a world-class collaboration platform designed to enhance the employee experience and well-being, drive results more efficiently, foster new team norms – by defining a new way of innovating and collaborating with people at the center.

A holistic approach to hybrid work

Where people work isn’t the only piece to the hybrid work puzzle.

People are at the center of our hybrid work strategy. Cisco looked first at our people through the lens of individuals, leaders, and teams against the backdrop of our culture. One thing that is clear through our employee listening programs is employees want even more flexibility, and their well-being is at stake.

Flexibility is now non-negotiable for employees across the industry, and many are even willing to give up compensation in return. According to Aon’s U.S. Salary Increase and Turnover Study, Cisco’s attrition rate was less than half of our industry peers’ in FY21, in part because of the location flexibility we’ve had. Your company will lose talent if you don’t give your employees the personal flexibility they desire.

This brings us to leaders. With flexibility for employees comes confusion for leaders. How do leaders give employees flexibility and balance the needs of the business? Leadership is being redefined and today’s working environment demands a new kind of leader – one with more emotional intelligence over technical skills. Leaders need to make difficult decisions about where and when employees work, and many are caught off guard by how to navigate these new, ambiguous decisions.

Leaders need to be more than just managers. You can’t expect your leaders to wake up and have changed overnight – transition takes time. Train them, teach them, support them, and give them the tools and technology to manage their teams. If leaders don’t have the enablement they need, how can you expect them to retain their employees and drive productivity?

Leader enablement must be a priority to drive a hybrid work transformation. At Cisco, we outlined clear hybrid working policies and guidelines on the do’s and don’ts for leaders and employees, all grounded in employee choice while ensuring regulatory and financial compliance. We developed leader toolkits to assist leaders in establishing new hybrid team norms and making decisions around employee mobility – all while ensuring innovation and productivity continues.

At the end of the day, employees want a culture where they feel seen, heard, and included. In a Bloomberg interview, Francine Katsoudas, EVP of People & Communities at Cisco, shared that:

“The best kind of leaders are the ones that know what is going on in their teams’ lives.”

Why does this matter? Across industries, employees are becoming more selective and are seeking a different environment. Organizations, leaders, and employees require a shared understanding with tools and technology to develop a culture that is inclusive to all workers, remote and in the office, with flexible workstyles.

Make your in-office moments matter

Historically, we used to go into the office because it was the norm. Post-pandemic, we have reflected on whether it’s really necessary to go to the office every day. Today, the question employees ask themselves is “What benefit do I get from going into the office?”

We are driving a mindset shift to encourage leaders and teams to be more intentional and purposeful about our business outcomes and what that team rhythm is for in-office versus offsite work.

The reality is, people sometimes want to go into the office to get a change of scenery, see coworkers, and brainstorm with colleagues. A lot of organic collaboration happens in the hallways or cafeteria, and some activities such as team-building or design thinking, are best done onsite. The office is about teams – people go into the office to feel part of a team and to do things together. This is why we have optimized our workspaces to make the moments in the office matter.

In our New York office, we revamped workspaces by integrating technology to create a new hybrid way of working!

Quickly check which rooms are available, capacity metrics, air quality, and so much more for convenience and safety — with DNA spaces and built-in sensors in devices.
Take high quality virtual meetings in conference rooms through the Webex Room Panorama.
Glance to see which rooms are available and book them on-the-spot through Room Navigators placed outside each meeting room.
Hot-desking reimagined. Turn any desk into a personalized workspace with the Webex Desk Series.
Co-collaborate for design thinking and strategic planning in real-time with users in the office and at home with the Room Kit and integrated touchscreen capabilities.

You might ask:

“How does this all come together – individual flexibility, distributed team, innovation, and collaboration?”

It’s the technology that enables this integration for a new way of working in a hybrid world. Webex Devices power intelligent workspaces to enhance employee productivity and security. With Webex Devices, hybrid work is simply better. Users are always part of the action regardless of where they are.

Webex technology brings it/us all together

Webex technology brings hybrid work full circle, allowing employees, leaders, and organizations to keep the focus on company objectives rather than location. With Webex, technology remains invisible to users and is made to provide the best experience for people at home, in the office, or on the go.

This transformation has been happening for a while. Cisco knew that as people started to return to the office, there would be an obvious experience gap. Rarely would you ever have everyone in a single location again. In the past year and a half, Webex has been working to develop user experiences to be the best they can be – to bridge the gap between users at home, the office and in between. See how we’ve helped T-Mobile in this regard:

With features like People Focus, users receive a camera view of each individual so they can clearly see each person sitting in a conference room. We developed our technology with a leadership perspective in mind by adding Team Insights to your Webex toolkit. With Team Insights, leaders can see who they’ve met with the most and least on their team to help create stronger working relationships.

And that’s just the start of what we’ve done.

Some of the amazing Webex features that support hybrid work.

We are continuously innovating and developing our technology to meet the needs of customers and the hybrid work environment. Users also have a really easy way to purchase everything for a successful hybrid workplace through the Webex Suite, starting at $11.95 per user per month, with heavily discounted world-class endpoints.

Take control of your hybrid work strategy

One of the biggest mistakes that we see customers making is assuming what they did at the beginning of the pandemic is going to make them successful as people return to the office. In reality, organizations should rethink their entire hybrid work strategy.

Most businesses are still defining hybrid work by where you work because that’s the most obvious and immediate way to define hybrid working in the post-pandemic world. Hybrid work is that and more – the where, when, and how People, Business Outcomes, and Technology intersect. Organizations need to transform policies, how they train employees and leaders, and create an inclusive culture with technology to support the transition.

For Cisco and many of our collaboration customers, hybrid work has been somewhat easier because we had Webex, which was the best collaboration tool to adapt to the changing environment. No matter where you are in your journey, it’s not too late to transform your hybrid work strategy and Cisco is there to help. If you only plan for where you work, your business will be left behind.

Want to go deeper?

Register here to attend Have you Been Looking at Hybrid Work All Wrong?, a live webinar on May 26th with Chris Barwick, VP of Strategy & GTM and Connie Dudum, Director of People & Communities. You will get the inside scoop on how Cisco manages hybrid work and changes your organization can make to be successful in the hybrid workplace.

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Chris Barwick

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