This Cisco exec has figured out an ingenious hack for collaborating across time zones

By Jacqueline Guichelaar as told to Katharine Schwab

A large population of my direct reports are in the U.S., but I’ve also got people in the U.K., and in the Asia-Pacific region. And because people aren’t flying anymore, we’re doing all our strategy sessions every quarter, every month, every week on video calls. So if you want to do a 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. session, that [means people in the U.K. are] working from 5 p.m. till midnight. Because I’m so conscious of that, I’m forcing myself to sync up with my Asia-Pacific colleagues late in the evening, or my U.K. colleagues [early] in the morning.

I’ve gotten into a routine of doing it. Because I don’t think it’s fair that we work [according to] U.S. time zones. We’re a global company. Every individual on the team is important, regardless of what time zone they’re in. We’re in the middle of producing a new governance model [with] meeting times that we can share between regions so that people don’t have to work crazy hours just to stay in sync. We haven’t quite cracked it, but we’re definitely adjusting the way we work.

Time she gets up

Between 5 and 5:30 a.m.

First thing she does in the morning

“Take a couple of deep breaths and reflect on how lucky I am. I do then turn to my phone.”

How she handles email

“I scan and deal with anything critical, whether it’s work or personal or charity. I’ll try and get those done in a slot or two or between meetings. And then I typically clean up the inbox at the end of the week.”

Her strategy for keeping up with the news

“There are a couple of apps that I use, like Apple News and the BBC News app, where I pull the news in from different parts of the world. What’s happening [where people I care about are,] in Australia? The U.K.? Uruguay? So, is my grandma okay, is my mum okay, are my friends okay? And then what’s going on where I live? The other strategy I have has just evolved, and I’m lucky. If I go out for a break, [my wife] Audrey will go, hey, this happened and this happened and this happened. Without meaning to, she synthesizes and relays what’s going on.”

What’s in her work space that keeps her motivated

A sign that says “Be Awesome Today,” and a painting that says “Only Love.”

Her relationship with social media

“I’m spending a lot more time on it, sharing information, learning from others, publishing what we at Cisco have learned so customers and colleagues and whoever wants it can just take it. I rarely use Facebook. I use Twitter and LinkedIn more because I’m putting more effort into what I can do with my time to help and learn from others—versus posting a picture at a restaurant, having a nice glass of wine.”

What she does with 15 minutes of free time

“I step away and cook something. I never used to cook every day, but now I do ‘Cooking With Jacqui G’ classes that I send to my family and friends. I was trying to cook an omelet right before this call—a simple egg omelet, a bit of cheese, zucchini. And then I ran out of time, and [the ingredients are] still sitting there. I’m going to cook it straight after this.”

Trick for maintaining home/work separation while working from home

“If I know I’ve got a call with Asia at 8 p.m., I’ll go and play golf from 5 to 7, then come back, have a bite to eat, and get back on for the next few hours. Otherwise, what I found was I was just going all the way through without a break.”

One thing she’s done this year to try to improve herself

“I’ve made more of a conscious effort to put my perspectives out there. I’m not worrying about what people think. I’m just trusting that people know my intent is right.”

Last thing she does at night

“[Listen to] 528Hz sleep videos on YouTube. It really helps me get into that zone.”

Time she goes to bed

11 p.m.

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