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How to Survive—and Thrive—While Working Remotely

Posted 04/29/2020 by Jeff Nicoll, Vice President, Sales

During a recent Q&A, I had the pleasure of talking with John Brookbank—Vice President of Americas Distribution Sales for Cisco—about the company’s 70-billion-dollar business in the US, Canada, and Latin America, and how working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected both Cisco employees and customers.

Here are some brief highlights of what John and I talked about during our Q&A. If what you read here piques your interest, there’s a link to the full interview—containing many more of John’s valuable insights—at the end of this blog.

What resources do you offer to help your employees and customers stay safe and connected while working remotely?

At Cisco, our employees are our top priority. We already do a lot of work virtually. Now we’ve implemented a work-from-home policy that limits our employees’ exposure—without compromising their ability to remain connected, productive, and, most importantly, safe.

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Cisco & ScanSource – ScanSource & Cisco celebrating our 13-year partnership anniversary earlier this year
(From left to right: Aimee King, Chris Stokes, John Brookbank, Mike Baur, Brian Cuppett, Jim Parker)


We also help our customers and partners keep their teams, themselves, and their families as healthy and protected as possible. Right now we’re providing free, cloud-based services like Webex—to use for business, and also to stay connected with friends and family—and some of our security solutions are free, too. And with the current focus on healthcare, we now can deliver rapid-response network bundles through a partnership with Meraki. We’re helping communities create secure, online classrooms, and establishing extended terms and creative financing for our distributors and partners—so they have the flexibility to continue running their businesses under these trying circumstances. And, because security is so critical, our platform is encrypted end to end, to help keep our customers free from danger as well.

How are you empowering employees to succeed while working remotely?

A lot of my team has worked remotely before, but working completely virtual is different. It’s isolating. So, I want my team and associates to focus on themselves and their families first. Then, I want them to mentally prepare for each workday. We shared tips about how to schedule their days, and we ensured they have the tools necessary to do their work. And we’re doing weekly check-ins, and other fun activities, to stay connected. Because face-to-face-interactions are key right now.

What are you learning from dealing with the pandemic? And how are you putting those insights to work for your customers and employees?

I’m learning that leadership really matters, especially now, and it’s not about where you fall on an org chart. We’re all leaders, and we all have to stay focused. We need to trust our teams, believing we’ll all get through this when we help each other.

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John working from his home office that’s still in the process of being set up

What one device can’t you live without during the pandemic?

I couldn’t live without my iPhone. We just downsized into a condominium, and we still don’t have any services, TV, or internet. So I’m literally using my iPhone as a hot spot. It’s the only way I can connect right now.

Do you have anything to add, John?

Yes. Communicate constantly. Personal connections really matter, especially now. Use this opportunity to invest in yourself through additional training, if it’s offered. Then have some fun—but be safe while you do it!

A well-known and respected, worldwide technology leader in IT, networking, and security solutions, Cisco has created a portfolio that expands the entire network—from the edge to the core and into the cloud. It offers wireless, mobility, infrastructure, and analytics solutions, all of which feature best-of-breed hardware and software.

Cisco’s business segments—commercial, public sector, enterprise, and service provider—serve customers around the globe. With 17,000 salespeople and more than 60,000 partners, the company is out there every day through its partner channel, and through distributors like ScanSource that create customer-centric solutions.

Many thanks to John for his time, and we invite you to watch the entire video interview with him. Stay well everyone!

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