Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Go home on time – tackling work-life balance with technology

October 3, 2016

In the 19 years I’ve been at Cisco the working world has changed beyond recognition.

That first day I walked into the office in 1997 there were only around 70 million internet users on the planet. Today more than 3 billion people across the globe are connected through 5 billion devices, many of which are small enough to fit in your pocket.

But despite such incredible advancements, one-third of people say managing the balance between their personal and professional lives has become more difficult.

With the tools we have at our disposal today there is simply no excuse for this.


There’s never been a better time to readdress the work-life balance. We can improve people’s lives in a way that works for employees and organisations alike, and I truly believe technology is the answer.

Flexibility through technology

We talk about technology not in the context of the nuts and bolts that make it up but in terms of what it can do for people. How it can change lives and improve society for us all.

Mobile phones or telepresence technology or digital communication apps all took incredible feats of engineering to produce, but what matter most is the impact they have on people’s work-life balance.

When someone can collaborate with colleagues on any device, wherever they are, it empowers them with the flexibility to build their personal life around their working one.

Somebody being able to pick their kids up from school or football or visit a poorly relative. The chance to fit in a work-out session in between all the other things happening in their life.

These may seem like little things in the shadow of a big organisation, but to the individuals involved they could be the difference between unmanageable stress and a happy, fulfilling life.

And all of them are possible thanks to the flexibility technology affords.

Culture matters

If technology is the enabler that makes work-life balance possible, culture is the spark that turns it into a reality.

Our recent research found that culture is actually the most important factor in determining digital roll-out success. And without that success you won’t be able to provide employees with the flexibility they need to live a happily balanced life.

And culture starts at the top. It’s up to leaders to set the tone in organisations when it comes to work-life balance. Flexibility should be the rule, not the exception – something ingrained into the way people plan and carry out their work every day.

Reassure people it’s OK for them to leave early, pick up their kids and then log on at home later on. Make people feel trusted – that they have the autonomy to live their lives how they want as long as they get their job done by the end of the day.

It’s leaders who have the power to make these messages stick.

Real business benefits

44% of workers say mobile working allows them to get more done, and 42% say it makes them feel more trusted, according to a recent report by Lancaster University.

And those organisations in the report that have already implemented flexible working – such as BT and Stanford University – have seen improved productivity, happier workforces and reduced staff turnover as a result.

At Cisco work-life balance is ingrained into our culture. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved so far, particularly being voted second-best in the UK for work-life balance in a recent Glassdoor survey.

But we’re also extremely proud that we’re helping our customers improve the lives of their own employees and that they’re reaping the resulting benefits.

So I urge businesses big and small across the UK to get involved in National Work Life Week. See how technology could improve the work-life balance of your staff and enhance business performance as a result.

Here’s to everyone going home on time tonight!

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