Feature Story

Enhancing human connections in a hybrid-work world

Thrive Global and Cisco partner to promote well-being, resiliency, and empathy at work.
Jun 03, 2021
By Arianna Huffington and Jeetu Patel


Thrive Global is a behavior-change technology company committed to ending the epidemic of stress and burnout — while promoting greater human connections in the workplace.

And Cisco is a global technology company whose purpose is to power an inclusive future  — as we also transform the remote and hybrid-work experience, sowing new opportunities around the world and bringing people closer together, regardless of language or geography. In short, we’re two organizations that go beyond technology — to put people first.

So, it’s only natural that we’d forge a partnership — and fuse Thrive Global’s science-based, whole human approach to well-being with Cisco’s Webex collaboration solutions for the benefit of our customers. 

Together, we believe that we can help promote a new dimension in mindfulness, empathy, and clarity in the workplace. Because when we show up with our best selves, we can do great things.

We also agree that it’s high time we erased the collective delusion that stress and burnout are the price we have to pay for success. But to do that demands a deep understanding that all aspects of our physical and mental well-being are interconnected — and must be supported, especially in fast-changing hybrid work environments.

To maintain that delicate balancing act, Thrive Global combines science, storytelling, and “microsteps,” which help to build new habits that improve well-being and mental resilience.

The company uses its science-based techniques to create interactive and personalized tools to help employees course-correct from stress in real-time. And it uses storytelling to celebrate role models who are creating a new, more sustainable definition of success — instead of glorifying burnout.  These new models of success put a premium on human skills like empathy, resilience, collaboration, team building and creativity — all of which will be essential as we continue to face future defined by change and uncertainty.

Of course, qualities like empathy and connection are tough to access when we’re stressed, burned out, depleted, or perpetually operating in fight-or-flight mode. By helping employees achieve high performance in a sustainable way — and by building in time to unplug and recharge — we can nurture empathy, resilience and human connections.

Thriving with Webex

As Fran Katsoudas, Cisco’s chief people, policy, and purpose officer said, “At Cisco, we believe that digital must humanize the enterprise. The incorporation of Thrive Resets into Webex allows for well-being to be integrated into our technology in a beautiful way.”  

By combining Thrive Global with Webex’s cutting-edge collaboration technology, we can bring Thrive Global’s human-focused techniques to the front lines of work and creativity at precisely the moment when they are most needed.

Throughout the pandemic, Webex offered tremendous flexibility, inclusivity, and security for teams around the world that were suddenly connecting from afar. And it’s only getting better, with new capabilities like real-time translation, AI-driven analytics, and audio intelligence (for background-noise removal).

All of which will be critical in a hybrid work environment where people who need to work together, may not physically be together every day.  

In this hybrid work environment, our need to collaborate and connect in deeply human ways — while transcending the distance between us — will be essential. But making that happen depends on a workplace culture that nurtures these human qualities, all of which are undermined by stress and burnout.

That’s where technology can help. Technology, that is, with a human soul, and built on a foundation of empathy.

By infusing Thrive Reset with Webex and Thrive Calls with Webex Contact Center, we believe we are going a long way towards promoting a new level of empathy in the work experience.

But how do they work?

Thrive Reset is a natural fit for Webex. Virtual fatigue is a familiar concept to anyone who’s spent hours — or even entire days — in back-to-back virtual meetings. But Reset is based on research showing that it takes 60 to 90 seconds to course-correct from stress.

Stress at work may be all-but inevitable, but cumulative stress is not. Reset counters cumulative stress by providing an opportunity to engage, focus, and be more productive. Its secret is both simple and high tech at the same time. By offering 60-second breaks between meetings--and even during meetings, Reset offers a chance to reflect, recharge, and break the chain of building, cumulative stress.

People using Webex will soon be able to download pre-loaded Resets on a range of topics — to help them focus on breathing, reflect on what they’re grateful for, reframe problems, or simply stand up and stretch.


Throughout the 60-second Reset, a breathing bubble guides users to deeply inhale and exhale. There’s a reason why spiritual guides have focused on breathing for thousands of years. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system and lowers your cortisol levels.


Of course, we can also personalize our Resets with the things we love most: children, pets, breathtaking landscapes, emotionally moving music, or inspiring quotes. There’s even an option to share a Reset across a team, offering an intimate glimpse into the inner worlds of our colleagues.


Thrive Calls takes the same concepts into contact centers. Contact-center agents are critical brand ambassadors, representing the company to customers, but many cope with tremendous stress. Thrive Calls puts this science into practice by helping agents de-stress, in real time, when they need it most — for example, after a string of back-to-back calls, a call that lasts more than 20 minutes, or a call that needs to be escalated to a manager.

Webex is already bringing a better experience to contact-center agents — and their customers.  We are excited to partner and bring these new stress-reducing features to the market.

Battling burnout for a better world

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we’re never going back to the way things were. And the best, most forward-thinking leaders and companies have used this experience as a catalyst for change that would otherwise have been impossible, viewing it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine the way we work and live. 

After all, any work model that promotes stress and burnout is not worth revisiting.

Together, we can create a new model for how work should be. Together, we can define a new experience for work, one that goes far beyond the outmoded goals of pure profit and productivity — towards a world that’s more inclusive, empathetic, and compassionate. Whether our colleagues are in the office next door or connecting from another continent.

In short, we want the new normal to be a better normal.