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Published: 26 Aug 2016

Cisco, Winner 2016, The American Express Best Flexible Working Initiative Award

Key features

  • Cisco is leveraging their latest technology to drive employee mobility and flexibility in the company.
  • Employees who work flexibly give back 60 per cent of reduced commute time to Cisco; employees personally save approximately £700 per year on commuting costs and those who work flexibly are 22 per cent more likely to be highly engaged employees.
  • Three specific initiatives: TimeSwap; JobSwap and Stretch Assignment Marketplace, give people online opportunities to swap their whole job, part of their job or to take on new projects and assignments.

Cisco is leveraging their latest internet-based technology to enable employees to do their job from anywhere, at any time, empowering them to make the right choices for their work/life balance.  Communication takes flexible working into account through ‘employee all hands’ meetings which are typically broadcast live.  These meetings leverage Cisco’s collaboration technology including IP TV, Web and Video Conferencing, to enable employees to join and actively participate from any location.  Employees can submit questions live or in advance and the meeting can also be accessed on replay for those not working at the time of the live meeting.  Cisco leaders are encouraged to drive open discussion following meetings of this type, and are provided with a ‘Meeting in a Box’ slide deck to ensure consistent messaging.

Technology is enabling three new initiatives around flexibility in the work people do: JobSwap, TimeSwap and Stretch Assignment Marketplace (SAM). JobSwap, offered online, enables people to swap jobs either temporarily or permanently – to develop new skills and to extend their careers at Cisco. TimeSwap presents people with the opportunity to swap 20 per cent of their time with a colleague. For example, field managers might swap with global sales managers, giving each a better understanding of the other’s job and ultimately ensuring a better sales function overall.

SAM is an online marketplace where any manager, anywhere in the world, can advertise a piece of work or project for which anyone in Cisco can apply. This enables people to try out different specialisms, gain new skills and work with new people, for a couple of hours a week.  These new initiatives are seen by Cisco as the cornerstone of their future flexibility, employee engagement and loyalty.

Cisco is measuring both formal and informal take-up of flexibility and reports that a recent employee survey showed that 81 per cent believe flexibility is driving positive experiences for Cisco employees and that 95 per cent are proud to work for Cisco. The survey also showed that by providing the technology to enable flexible working, Cisco has significant corporate and employee advantages. For example, employees work from home on average 1.1 days per week; give back 60 per cent of reduced commute time to Cisco; and personally save approximately £700 per year on commuting costs. Those who work flexibly are 22 per cent more likely to be highly engaged employees and are 30 per cent less likely to leave voluntarily than their colleagues who do not work in this way.

Future plans for Cisco are to increase the number of women in technology, drive adoption of their shared parental leave programme and become more proactive in publicising flexibility around retirement.