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Temperance at Cisco

Thinking about having another soda on your 3 o'clock smoke break? If you work at Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) San Jose campus, you may have seen signs that call upon your conscience to reconsider. A group inside Cisco has put up full-color, glossy posters in break rooms all over Cisco's campus, admonishing employees to help the company save money by drinking less and recycling more, sources say.

Like other big companies (especially in Silicon Valley), Cisco provides free bottled water, coffee, sodas, and fruit drinks for its employees (see A Return to the Kitchenentals). Now that the economy's hugging the commode, however, Cisco and its peers are discovering that such perks add up fast when one multiplies a few cents per soda by tens of thousands of employees.

(Another increasingly popular -- and daring -- cost-cutting measure being pursued by some Silicon Valley companies, such as Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) and Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP): encouraging employees to take time off without pay.)

To nudge folks in the right direction, Cisco has printed and hung signs (on recycled paper?) that encourage conservation. The signs in Cisco's break rooms ask employees to "drink frugally" and "drink responsibly," sources say.

And don't operate heavy equipment.

According to a Cisco correspondent, one sign, with an accompanying chart, explains that each worker taking one less cold beverage per day could save Cisco more than $2 million annually.

The problem: In a corporation that traditionally has avoided luxuriant excess, some Cisco insiders feel that the signs add insult to injury, especially in light of recent budget cuts.

"In my group, people have been laid off, there are no raises for anyone this year, most employee stock options are under water, we have been moved from reasonable-sized cubes to mini-cubes, funding for training and supplies has been cut, meeting room sizes have been cut in half, etc. All are arguably reasonable actions, but it hasn't been good for morale," writes one employee.

To help ease the sting of such corporate crackdowns, some Cisco folks have put up a Web site that pokes fun at -- but doesn't protest -- the signs. The site, which was recently spotlighted on F*ckedCompany.com, suggests some other cutbacks, such as washing only one hand after using the restroom.

"I was just trying to lighten things up," writes one of the site's authors in an email to Light Reading. "Of course I would rather pay for drinks than try to find a new job."

The thirst suppressant signs are just an isolated -- and perhaps extreme -- example in a series of several internal adverts that encourage frugality at Cisco. In fact, Cisco employees contacted by Light Reading praise their employer for not being "draconian" in response to California's ongoing energy crisis. "They set the thermostat a few degrees higher and told us we could wear shorts -- mostly common sense stuff," says one Cisco worker.

"There are signs all over Cisco that encourage employees to act frugally in various ways," says a Cisco spokesperson contacted for this story. "So write frugally."

Cheers!

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
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respond 12/4/2012 | 7:54:18 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco When this stry make top news, market is hit bottom! No news for up. no news for down. I feel better already.
metroman 12/4/2012 | 7:54:14 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco Perhaps Cisco could save money by:

Not putting up as many posters
Not allowing employees access to message boards
Buying the stock of companies with a future and a full refrigerator

CSCO is losing the plot. I guess though that they have always sent packets frugally so it's not so much of a change.
skarz 12/4/2012 | 7:54:13 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco I turned down a job at CISCO....no Grape soda in the frig...just cola, limit: one per day.
AsicGuy 12/4/2012 | 7:54:06 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco The ironic part was actually that the poster
was printed in such a fancy fashion. Some
friend was telling me that he saw another poster
printed on a regular paper says:

"If we use this poster, we save $50,000 right
away. "

Actually I like Cisco and think "think twice when
drinking" message it self is OK.


Lopez 12/4/2012 | 7:54:05 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco Why doesn't Chambers cut his own pay down to a third and ask the other execs to do the same! He gives lip service all of the time about how valuable his employees are and that Cisco's strength comes from its people. Hell, his salary alone could feed Somalia.

Before the layoffs, Chambers cut his salary to $1/year because it would save 8 engineers.

Learn the facts.
bear 12/4/2012 | 7:54:05 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco Why doesn't Chambers cut his own pay down to a third and ask the other execs to do the same! He gives lip service all of the time about how valuable his employees are and that Cisco's strength comes from its people. Hell, his salary alone could feed Somalia.
viper 12/4/2012 | 7:54:04 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco He already has -- a few months ago he cut it to $1 per year. I don't know that any other executives have followed suit.
The Carmack 12/4/2012 | 7:54:03 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco Before the layoffs, Chambers cut his salary to $1/year because it would save 8 engineers.

What about stock options?
^Eagle^ 12/4/2012 | 7:54:02 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco Folks,

I would be very very surprised to find very many Cisco employees working only 40 hour weeks. cisco has long been known for hard work and long hours.

However, I do agree that the sales team is WAY over compensated. I know sales guys in Austin who have made over 400k per year for several years in a row...who could barely spell MAN or WAN a few years ago. Just smoozers who let the field apps engineers and staff from the factory do all the heavy lifting and work for them. They just manage the relationship (really they smooze with the distribution channel...and do few direct sales themselves) and let others do the real technical selling. the Cisco FAE's are very very good and deserve to be compensated. But one could argue very strongly against the sales team making soooo much. And my Austin case is not isolated. Lots and lots of multimillionaires in Cisco sales. Do they really deserve to make more than double what the president of the US does....?

Cisco could nearly go cash flow positive is sales were compensated at more industry norms....like making a meager $200k!



sailboat
^Eagle^ 12/4/2012 | 7:54:01 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco Chambers could cash in more like 0.001% of his stocks and fund drinks for all Cisco for years.

If he cashed in 0.5% he could fund softdrinks for nearly all silicon valley....not just cisco employees!
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