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."


- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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sfleinen 12/4/2012 | 7:53:30 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco > recycle packets

set spendtree disable all
horse of a different color 12/4/2012 | 7:53:28 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco It's only a matter of time before the ax doth swing again. You can't consolidate about 35 or so BU's into 11 and NOT have overlap and redundancy. Just look at the the number of VP/GM's and Directors. They can't find senior-level positions for all of 'em. I just hope that this next batch gets the same kind of package I did the first time.

I bet they don't.
hype 12/4/2012 | 7:53:26 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco >flanker : smooze?

In a non-disclosed memo, Cisco has ordered that the "H" key be removed from employees keyboards, in yet another cost reduction scheme!!!!

Rumor has it that "Y" is next.... "Are You Read?"
botermalujilly 12/4/2012 | 7:53:15 PM
re: Temperance at Cisco You don't have to be any more competence in sales to sell the Pirelli equipment than the Cerent equipment. The Pirelli long haul was the first 10G long haul system available; it has (had) its merits. However, you do need to know the equipment and the sales cycle for the system to understand the customer's needs and make the sale. The Cerent sales team knew their equipment. The sales cycle for the 454 is short (days to weeks). They sold tons of them and ran with the money, but the same sales team (who were tasked with selling the Pirelli system, because Pirelli had only a few salemen)had no incentive to learn the Pirelli system, because the sales cycle was so long (several months to years). They didn't want to spend time bringing a customer along in the process if they were not going to buy relatively soon. The Pirelli salesmen knew this, but were virtually ignored in the whole process. They were reassigned to sell the 454, and eventually all left.
Now you know the truth. Lack of sales is not the fault of the Pirelli equipment. It was the inability of the ONG leadership to understand or care about the product.
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