Feature Story

For Earth Day, Webex gets walking

by Kevin Delaney

For Earth Day, Webex gets walking

Cisco’s Global Comms team takes a meeting — from streets, farmlands, and hiking trails.

What better way to celebrate Spring — and Earth Day — than with a Webex meeting?

Well, it wasn’t just any Webex meeting. Cisco’s Global Communications team, led by Chief Communications Officer Stella Low, decided to host this month’s All Hands as a walking Webex meeting.

So, dozens of team members took to the streets — and hiking trails and farmlands around their homes — to demonstrate the power and flexibility of Webex as a collaboration tool.

But it went far beyond that.

“I wanted to encourage people to just chill a little bit,” Low said, “and enjoy the All Hands in a different way. This call was more like a fun podcast that you can listen to anywhere, with a bit of clubhouse atmosphere mixed in. Because it’s important for us to not only work well, but to also take care of our mental health.”

After all, everyone on the call already viewed Webex and its mobile app as a lifeline through months of lockdowns and pandemic-driven isolation. But after a long winter of endless indoor meetings and tough deadlines, it was time to combine plans, strategies, and ideas with sunlight, songbirds, and flowers.

Because Cisco didn’t get to be the No. 1 place to work through productivity and innovation alone. Wellness is a key theme here: for our bodies, our minds, our families, our communities, and our environment.

And being outdoors is one key to wellness.

Study after study shows that simply being outdoors increases all kinds of wellness measures, from immune system strength and mental acuity to creativity and energy.

Take vitamin D, for example. It’s critical for our ability to absorb calcium, reduces inflammation, fights depression, and helps with weight loss. And we get 90 percent of it from the sun.

And let’s not forget focus.

Maxine Janes was a Webex Walker who clocked 3.6 miles strolling along the Potomac River in Washington D.C. “This was the most information I’ve retained from an all hands,” she said, “because I was listening while walking.”

Alana Bernal, who happily wandered her neighborhood in San Jose, Ca., had a similar reaction. “Having the flexibility to get my steps in during meetings gets my day started on the right foot,” she said. “I come back to my desk feeling positive, awake, and ready to start my day!”

And Rachel Lehman welcomed the opportunity to use just one of her five senses: "Minimizing the information shared on slides meant people could actually just listen. I also appreciate when there’s no expectation to be on video, especially for long or large calls — helps with Webex fatigue."

Beyond focus and creativity, there are other, more intangible benefits to consider. 

As humans, we need nature for a sense of perspective. At its best, work is creatively fulfilling and gives us a higher sense of purpose. But there’s a whole other world out there, even if you live in a city. Birds are singing to impress mates or already nesting. Bees are pollinating. Flowers are blooming. Fish are streaming. And quiet is simply — quiet.

We need to be connected to it all — as stewards of the environment, and also for ourselves.

One Webex meeting won’t change the world. But the Global Comms Walkers — whether in Silicon Valley or Europe or Asia — would all agree: the future of work is starting to look just a little bit greener.

 

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