Late last year, Cisco Australia and New Zealand moved into new headquarters in North Sydney.\nThe culmination of 12 months of planning and design, more than 400 staff moved into their trendy modern home, without any business interruption.\nThe open-plan workplace was given a homey feel in communal areas, with bookshelves, sofas, plants, Scandinavian-style wood and exposed brickwork. Working areas boast touch point desks, standing desks, quiet rooms and casual meetings places.\nThe move didn\u2019t simply signify a change of surrounds. The aim was to completely revolutionise the way employees work.\n\u201cThe project goal was to leverage technology to bring people together to reflect our vision for the future of work. A vision that recognises our employee\u2019s values, including flexibility and choice over how, where, and in some cases when they work,\u201d explains the company\u2019s chief information officer Julie Canepa.\nThe lofty target needed an innovative use of technology to make it a reality.\n\u201cThe underlying technology needed to connect people seamlessly as they move throughout the office, as well as extending this same connectivity and user experience beyond the workplace. What made this project innovative, was how we intersected the technology platforms with physical design, and alignment to our people strategy,\u201d says Canepa.\nA move to 100 per cent activity based working, no private offices and fewer bookable meeting rooms \u201cchallenged the status quo\u201d, Canepa says and required technology solutions so that productivity was not negatively impacted.\n\u201cOur job was to provide the right technology for the right needs in each of these areas,\u201d she says.\nThe technology delivered by Canepa and her team included a unified communications and wireless network, more than 250 video endpoints ranging from video phones to highly immersive Telepresence units, Sparkboards \u2013 Cisco\u2019s own digital whiteboard and video conferencing product, hybrid business collaboration platforms integrated into business tools, upgraded internet links, increased security (802.1x enforcement), a BYOD initiative for tablets and phones, extension mobility and personal \u2018virtual\u2019 meeting rooms to personalise workspaces, smart lockers, and an IT helpdesk in the form of a \u2018Genius Bar\u2019 for technical support. \nAdditional innovations include bots for finding employees, leveraging CMX data in the office for geolocation, a bot to help find available meeting rooms, bots for integrating document management platforms, smart support for proactive IT troubleshooting, and video analytics for physical security. \nA key part of the smooth transition was the use of social platforms like Cisco\u2019s Spark to \u201ckeep each other honest, raise concerns and ensure a healthy dialogue along the way\u201d.\nBut tech is nothing without people. Employees had to be on board with the new ways of working, and eased into using the new technology.\nThe move meant a reduction of overall space, and demanded a culture of sharing.\n\u201cNot all of employees were eager to give up their desks and move to a 100 per cent shared economy. It took careful partnership between IT and business to manage the change, and set expectations on the new norms,\u201d says Canepa.\n\u201cTechnology decisions were debated early in the design and considered people, process and technology as one.\u201d\nThe Three Es\nAs well as technology and tact, an important ingredient in the company\u2019s success over the last year has been positivity and passion for innovation, much of it coming from Canepa herself.\nDriving her approach is what she calls the \u2018Three E\u2019s\u2019: exposure, experience and education.\n\u201cI create Exposure opportunities for the team by connecting them with global efforts, creating visibility with senior staff, rewarding outstanding achievements, and exposure to new areas of the business. I drive Experience opportunities for the team by encouraging employees to take on stretch assignments outside their typical domain, and to get involved with new, cross-functional projects. Finally, I focus on Education initiatives, bringing thought leaders from business and IT to speak with staff, and by creating new learning opportunities in Australia,\u201d she says.\nIt has had a measurable effect, with the team\u2019s employee satisfaction levels higher than ever before and among the highest in the company.\nCanepa is an inspiration to those inside and outside the business. She mentors three women at Cisco, started an internship program which has run the last two years, participates in a STEM mentorship program with CSIRO to support a local primary school in Sydney, is a member of FITT (Femalesin InformationTechnology Telecommunications) and takes part in Cisco\u2019s Empowered Women\u2019s Network.\nThe last year has also been a period of personal development, as the IT leader role changes.\n\u201cWhen I started my role, it was more internally focused on delivery, when I spoke to customers is was usually to the technical teams. Today, I\u2019m finding I am meeting with more heads of business than ever before. I have had to get comfortable being uncomfortable sharing my experience with customers and peers. I\u2019m now getting on stages, telling our story, connecting with leaders, and speaking about what we at Cisco are learning,\u201d she says.