Cisco Canada Blog

Virtual Sales Vantage Point: Developing culture & talent in a virtual world

June 25, 2021

Over the past 16 months, not only has Cisco been supporting organizations as they transition to secure remote work, we’ve been going through a transition ourselves. We’ve embraced a work-from-anywhere culture for years thanks to our collaboration technology, so we had more than a few lessons already under our belt. But there’s a difference between a flexible remote work policy and a mandate to work from home during a pandemic.

Having a foundation of passionate people at Cisco has been a key factor in our success over the last year, despite the challenges of working and living virtually. That success includes supporting healthcare providers delivering care virtually via Webex and building out IT infrastructure in field hospitals, ensuring continued access to youth mental health services with the Child Development Institute, maintaining access to learning and mental health resources for students in the remote North, and making an impact in our communities through programs like the City of Toronto’s Digital Canopy.

But the foundation for this success didn’t happen overnight. It started with creating a conscious culture – an intentional focus to cultivate the skills and talent of our team – whether in person or remotely.

Here are a few lessons for organizations looking to reimagine culture in a virtual world.

Create a conscious culture

A strong culture is linked to higher rates of productivity, less stress in the workplace, and increased employee morale. At Cisco, our conscious culture is the glue that holds our business together; it’s what guides and unites us. At its core, it’s three pillars:

  • Environment: An environment of dignity, respect, fairness and equity is the foundation of any thriving culture.
  • Characteristics: From the CEO to the leadership team, organizations can provide signals about what’s important. Cultures are molded by a company’s beliefs, behaviors, rituals and principles.
  • Experience: A company’s characteristics work in combination with the direct experiences an employee has through their manager, team and work they do – day-in and day-out.

Culture exists whether it’s good or bad, so it’s crucial for organizations and their leadership teams to manage the work required to create the culture they desire. At Cisco, that means employees of all levels understand the importance of everyone being aware – being “conscious” – of the environment they’re part of, and feeling accountable and empowered.

Continue to develop your people and teams

When Cisco went completely virtual last year, our investment in our people didn’t stop. We’ve continued to build on their existing strengths, communicate clear career and performance expectations, and have provided ongoing opportunities for learning and development. Through initiatives like The Multiplier Effect and our inclusive hiring practices, we strive to implement workforce practices that engage the full spectrum of diverse talent at Cisco.

Our passionate people are the foundation of our success. Organizations looking to reimagine their culture in today’s virtual – and soon to be hybrid – world need to prioritize how they invest in and enhance their employee experience.

Prepare for the future of hybrid work

The remaining piece of the virtual puzzle is how we bridge remote work with an eventual return to the office. Working from home is not for everybody, especially all of the time – even in a technology organization like Cisco.

Organizations need to start planning for how to move forward. Whether it’s establishing flexible working arrangements or ensuring a safe return to the office. Keep open lines of communication with employees and build in flexibility. What works for one employee might not work for the next, and individual needs might change as time goes on.

We know that managing a hybrid workforce will be an entirely different challenge from the shift to remote work. However, we now have a unique opportunity to fundamentally improve how people work in-person and remotely, and prioritizing people and culture will continue to be table stakes for success.

To learn more about how to ensure success in your virtual sales organization, read more from the Virtual Sales Vantage Point series here.

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