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Cisco turns to Webex to drive remote working

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Garsen Naidu, country manager of Cisco’s South African operations.
Garsen Naidu, country manager of Cisco’s South African operations.

In a time when social distancing has become the norm, companies have found solutions in video-conferencing and virtual meeting platforms, to connect with employees.

While many are using platforms like Zoom and Microsoft to navigate the COVID-19 lockdown, networking giant Cisco found the solution in its own platform, Webex, says SA country manager Garsen Naidu.

Webex is Cisco’s enterprise solution for video-conferencing, online meetings, screen share and webinars.

While SA’s nation-wide lockdown came into effect on 27 March, Naidu says the company made working from home mandatory for all its employees across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia from 16 March.

The Webex platform has proven vital in enabling the transition to remote working, he states. “For Cisco, working remotely has always been a part of the way we operate and our culture. We are fortunate to be able to use our collaboration and security technology to achieve our business continuity.

“On the technology side, we are using, as before, our Webex collaboration platform, that helps us continue to work together with customers, partners and colleagues across the globe.”

Financial backing

Since the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the disease has infected more than 1.5 million people, with the number of deaths standing at over 88 000 and recoveries at just over 330 000, at the time of publication.

In SA, the infection rate also continues to rise, with 1 845 confirmed cases and the total number of COVID-19-related deaths reaching 18, so far.

Amid the outbreak, tech firms locally and abroad have committed resources, including funds, to help fight the spread of this virus.

Naidu reveals Cisco has committed $225 million (around R4 billion) to the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. “To help fight the spread of this virus, we have committed resources to healthcare and education, government response and critical technology.

“We have also encouraged our 77 000 employees to give what they can to help our community partners on the front lines to bolster their operations in this time of need.”

Furthermore, Cisco saysit is dedicated to helping customers, partners, communities as well as governments around the world, to take advantage of technology to make the impact of COVID-19 less vivid.

“To support these efforts, we have provided our technical expertise along with free video-conferencing solutions (Webex), free security offerings and advice on how we can stay connected to each other during this period of physical distancing.”

Putting employees first

For its employees, Cisco says it has made it a priority to engage with staff members, as the current situation brings lots of challenges to each individual.

We try to be as flexible as possible, enabling our employees to balance their private and work commitments, notes Naidu.

“While they work from home, our employees have access to a plethora of supportive tools. To communicate with them, we have weekly employee check-in sessions with the executive leadership team, with the participation of our company doctor and other experts, who are there to address questions from employees.

“We talk a lot and are not shy to express any forms of anxiety, discomfort and overwhelmed pressure of all kinds.”

Furthermore, Naidu says Cisco has activated its pandemic response plan, adding the company has hotlines and weekly question and answer forums, to engage with the executive leadership team.

“Our global response is being coordinated by a dedicated Incident Management Team with 24/7 coverage. The team is monitoring the situation closely and providing direction and guidance based on advice from the corporate medical director, recognised international health bodies, official guidance from government, as well as municipal and local authorities.”

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