Real Estate for Specific Purposes: Cisco unveils hybrid work plans and technologies to support distributed teams.

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After a year at WFH, the companies offer a mixed set of flexible working hours. In the era of hybrid work, the traditional office is undergoing a transformation to help workers on site and elsewhere.

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Image: GettyImages / Westend61

Cisco released two blog posts on Thursday that talked about its hybrid strategy and the company’s technologies for delivering a distributed workforce. While the articles provide a concrete look at the strategy and approach of one tech titan, the core concepts of building remote and local teams are central and central to companies around the world in the era of hybrid work.

“All companies face the same dilemma when it comes to their plans for the future, as they challenge traditional aspects of the workplace experience. On the one hand, the pursuit of flexibility is paramount for everyone, but on the other hand, people want and need social experiences and an inclusive learning culture where physical space matters, ”said Jewell Parkinson, Chief Human Resources Officer at iCIMS.

Office redesign strategies

In the past year, companies have adopted a series of new office redevelopment strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the company. This includes installing plexiglass partitions, strengthening HVAC systems, creating remote office spaces, and more. In a blog post, Cisco lays out its vision for building “real estate for a specific purpose.” Prior to the pandemic, virtually all (95%) of Cisco workspaces were “dedicated to individuals,” the report said, adding that the ratio “needs to be changed.”

“We must transform the purpose of our offices into centers of collaboration – places where people can come together for rituals, teamwork and communication. For some teams this will happen a couple of days a week, while for others it might come together once. per month. But the purpose of coming to the office should be just that – purposeful, ”the message says.

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Citing company surveys, Jitu Patel, executive vice president of Cisco and general manager of security and collaboration, said 63% of Cisco employees would like to be in the office three to five days a week before the pandemic, and when re-surveyed in June 77% planned it. work remotely from three to five days a week.

“We decided it was best to focus entirely on hybrid and employee selection. We believe there is no one size fits all approach due to differences in work styles and people’s preferences, ”he said.

According to Patel, Cisco focuses not on where the office is located, but on the work itself and “transforms” its offices into “spaces optimized for teams that can innovate, collaborate and interact” to make the best use of these areas.

“We are turning our offices into centers of collaboration – places where people can come together for rituals, teamwork and communication as they choose. Some people may come to the office a couple of days a week, while others prefer to come. for example, meeting once a month. The purpose of the office visit should be purposeful, ”Patel said.

Soon, Patel added, Cisco will be unveiling its “hybrid offices.”

Hybrid-first technology and safety

Over the past year, 24/7 video conferencing and pings have replaced traditional personal collaboration for many, leading to the emergence of burnout of employees and new additions to vocabulary a la “
Fatigue from enlargement

“To reduce burnout and“ help people work smarter, ”Patel said, the Cisco team is developing solutions with features designed for the hybrid era.

“Features like automatic background noise cancellation, real-time translation, gesture recognition and more provide a hybrid world that can level the playing field whether you’re in or out of the office,” he said.

Network security has been a hot topic of conversation in the wake of a series of high-profile cyberattacks on critical US infrastructure. For companies, moving to a remote and hybrid work environment presents new cybersecurity challenges as employees log on from their home networks and sometimes work with IT protocols

SEE: Combining remote work with teaching children is a gigantic task. Here’s how employers can help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

With the move to telecommuting, Patel said, Cisco realized that “troubleshooting connectivity while working from home” was one of the “biggest bottlenecks,” while noting that “the home office should be connected the same way as where- or else ”in the age of hybrid work. Patel said that within five months, Cisco deployed zero trust an internal architecture spanning 120,000 “to improve security” endpoints with a distributed workforce.

To assess networks and applications wherever employees are located, Patel said Cisco is using solutions such as ThousandEyes to provide “end-to-end visibility to edge domains that customers do not own, such as the cloud and the Internet.”

Patel said that “security should be at the forefront of all talk about hybrid operation,” adding that Cisco’s goal is “to make security radically simple despite increasing complexity.” Referring to solutions such as SecureX, Patel said humans can manage and eliminate security threats “faster, despite an expanded attack surface.”

“We also do this by combining networking and security technologies in the cloud to help customers,” Patel said. “We are implementing our Secure Border Access (SASE) concept to combine best-in-class networking, security and more into a single subscription service with surveillance at the network edge.”

Focus on sustainability

Earlier this year, NEXT Energy Technologies released a report titled “The Office Space Case: How Buildings Must Change to Meet the Needs of Climate-Concerned, COVID-Fatigued Employees.” According to the report, top sustainability drivers that employees want companies to pay attention to include “reducing the use of disposable materials” (51%) and renewable energy (66%). In the new hybrid office, Cisco is supporting resilience efforts.

“We are rethinking the use of space, developing environmentally friendly and regenerative products, and designing energy efficient and carbon-efficient buildings as we transform for hybrid operation and understand the impact we have on the world around us,” Patel said.

Cisco is increasing its use of renewable energy in its offices, and this will be achieved through on-site solar solutions, “green power contracts with local utilities and power purchase agreements” to transfer power to utilities locally, Patel explained.

For other Cisco sustainability-focused hybrid workspace solutions, Patel highlighted DNA Spaces, explaining that the platform “gives smart building managers a unified view of operations and energy use,” from smart lighting to Wi-Fi performance.

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