Work from home

Work-from-home fallout: Cisco CEO warns workers now ‘actually struggle mentally’

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – What does the future hold for workers in terms of office vs. home? Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins says he doesn’t have definitive answers but he knows workers are suffering in a work-from-home environment.

“I think we sort of moved into that phase where people actually struggle mentally. People are – they’re not enjoying it,” Robbins said in a conference call with analysts Tuesday to discuss Cisco’s (Nasdaq: CSCO) latest earnings.

From a broader perspective, he added:

“[W]hen customers go back, what is it going to look like? Are more employees going to stay at home? Does that mean they’re going to shrink their footprint?”

In his own words from a transcript of the call provided by business news site SeekingAlpha, Robbins talks in detail about what he sees coming.

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“Does COVID stay with us? Do people now believe that they want to be, they want to maintain somewhat of a social distance in the office even post-COVID until we really get well beyond it? And does that mean that you need more footprint? What’s the future of shared space? Are employees comfortable coming in and sitting in a shared space that someone else occupied the day before or do they want their own space when they come in so that they feel safe in it? And I think those are the kinds of things that we don’t understand. But if I net it out, I don’t think, personally – this my own opinion based on customer discussions and everything else. I don’t think that some of the earlier beliefs in the pandemic where the early days is like no one is going to go back to the office because we’re actually productive at home.

“I think we sort of moved into that phase where people actually struggle mentally. People are – they’re not enjoying it. One of our employees said to me the other day, I don’t mind the option of working from home. I don’t like being forced to work from home. And so I really believe it’s going to be hybrid, where people are going to work from home and everybody’s sort of landing here where they’re going to work from home three days a week and work from the office two days a week or vice versa.

“The question is what accommodations does that lead to for customers, based on employees’ concern over space issues, concern over future pandemics or other concern. That’s what we just don’t know yet. But I do believe, based on what we’ve seen with Wi-Fi 6, that tells me customers are getting ready, and they’re upgrading the wireless infrastructure now. …”

Cisco operates one of its largest corporate campuses in RTP.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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