But what if there was a way to add a little sand to the hour glass? Well, there is.
Thanks to a generous volunteer program, flexible working environment, and innovative technologies, Cisco is helping me help others. And it’s all taking place in the crowded little alleyways of a city 9,000 miles away from my home.
Gift 1: Time to Help Others
As we drive through the chaotic sois (alleys) that are the life-blood of Bangkok, Thailand we come upon a large, yellowed building. Worn by relentless heat and pollution, the structure known as the old Bangkok Water Works sports two massive concrete water tanks long since abandoned. But tonight it transforms into Baan Im Jai (“satisfied heart”), a welcome refuge for the city’s homeless.
Every year Cisco gifts each employee with Time2Give (40 hours) to help others. This evening, a portion of my gift will be spent giving hope to this community. As we arrive, we’re awash with the smiles of the homeless and greeted by Jean & Tiwan, pastors of the First Love Church, who are directing tonight’s work. As we chat, they tell their own stories of addiction and homelessness; and how the mercy and compassion others showed them during that time empowered them to help others.
Through this work, they are giving central Bangkok’s homeless encouragement, guidance, and opportunities to learn new skills. Nearly 100 people will come. Most still live on the streets so staying at the shelter means adapting; a difficult task as they struggle through recovery.
We begin distributing the food and essentials we brought when a little girl named Grace suddenly swoops in between me and my wife. She eagerly picks up packages of soap and noodles, gently placing them in the hands of the recovering. Later, as meals are served, plates are taken eagerly but with respect; each recipient acknowledging the value of a full meal. While they eat, I’m invited to speak. At first, I’m reluctant but the words come. Words about faith, family, and my own challenges. Yet as time draws to a close, another word – hope – lingers in my mind. I hope it does for them as well.
Gift 2: Flexible work environment
On the drive back to our distant soi, my thoughts turn to Mary and Peter, my wife’s parents. They’ve been wonderful influences in my life but are now in declining health. So any time with them is precious. That “time” is why we’re here.
At the soi, I log on to work from half-way around the world. As I do, Cisco’s gift of flexibility in work location and schedule echoes in my mind; it has allowed me to work from my father’s hospital bedside and help my mother with her progressing blindness. Tomorrow it will let my wife and I build a few more memories with Mary and Peter. It’s a gift of such value I’m unable to shape it into words.
My experiences in the workplace were much different before joining Cisco. Too often those environments put company above family. But I have discovered that Cisco thinks quite differently, and during my time here I’ve been encouraged to turn my hourglass a little further in their direction; to serve those who will always mean the most to me.
Gift 3: Innovative technologies
The next morning I put Cisco’s innovative technologies to the test, continuing my work uninterrupted via smartphone as I transition from Uber to train to subway; sharing and viewing documents in real time. I even work live on documents stored and transmitted securely over 9,000 miles away.
Throughout the day the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to power my productivity via real time collaboration with colleagues through apps like Jabber and Webex. And as I journey home that night through the narrow sois where daily life plays out in the “city of smiles”, I can truly say I’ve experienced first-hand the power of connectivity.
The value of silicon goes beyond microchips
Sometimes we focus too hard on the technology we create rather than the people it helps; the silicon instead of the sand. That’s why the gifts of time to help others, a flexible work environment, and innovative technologies are worth celebrating.
They add just enough grains of sand in my hour glass to help me create something of great value; moments of time that benefit not only myself but my family and my community.
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