e-Work Cisco Case Study 2012

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Cisco Systems


, that designs and sells consumer electronics, networking, voice and communications technology and services. Cisco has more than 70,000 employees and annual revenue of $40 billion (US dollars) as of 2010.

The Challenge

Cisco Systems designed its offices in the 1990s under the assumption that the workforce would work during regular work hours in assigned space with PCs and phones. Leadership received private offices, and high-walled cubicles were assigned to individual contributors. Cisco sales were product-based, mainly routers and switches for infrastructure. The office interiors were conservative in nature, and Cisco’s brand of frugality was a driving principle.

Today Cisco sales are now solution-based, resulting in a global workforce that is highly collaborative. Employees work nontraditional hours, and new, complex business issues only increase the need for collaboration. Employees are often away from their desks in meeting rooms, at client sites or at home with their laptop and mobile phone in tow. Cisco has also rebranded itself for the consumer market, which has resulted in more use of color, graphics and imagery in the Cisco brand.

With the traditional workspace not meeting the needs of the current workforce, a new solution was needed: one that would fit many objectives, such as matching the physical work environment to the new work styles, reducing real estate costs by “capturing” all the unused space, updating the physical environment to attract and retain key talent, and showcasing Cisco’s new brand identity.

The Solution

CCW guiding design principles:

  • Encourage collaboration to become the norm
  • Improve efficiency in the workforce
  • Support Cisco’s sustainability objectives
  • Create opportunities for social networking
  • Help people to become more visible
  • Connect people to the work
  • Help people accomplish goals

A variety of space types and many levels of integrated technology form the cornerstone for CCW deployments. The key physical attributes include:

  • No more than seated height privacy in open plan
  • Transforming private offices into collaboration rooms
  • Personal storage that is separated from seats

In conjunction with Cisco’s “Flexible Work Practices” and “Global Space Policy,” CCW’s space transitioned from individual-assigned space to group-assigned space. All thought processes about real estate needed to change including metrics. For example, building capacity was measured by number of seats. Now building capacity is measured by persons housed (PH).

Ongoing management of the facilities changed as well. Sustaining management teams (SMTs) are set up to better manage diverse and dynamic workforce needs. Local control and accountability for workplaces migrates to the clients through the neighborhood SMT model where our clients lead a partnership of their representatives along with WPR and HR to enable the most effective use of group assignments.

Cisco now builds and manages a work environment based not on hierarchy, but on the needs of the teams. Employees have the freedom to choose their environment based on the requirements of their current task. CCW gives employees a broad choice of workspaces and technology tools to be their best at Cisco.

Cisco has achieved measurable business benefits with CCW and regularly evaluates the success of its effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is the increase in productivity and participant satisfaction resulting from the integrated workplace design and IT solutions. Efficiency is the improvement in key metrics, such as space utilization and cost and portfolio optimization.

WPR performs periodic interviews with each organization and administers surveys on a regular basis. Common feedback is that most employees like the choice of work environments, cutting-edge technologies, natural light, openness and the opportunity for increased collaboration between groups. Most participants state they would not want to go back to the traditional environment.

The group-assigned CCW workspace generates significant cost savings for Cisco including: