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The Virtual Halloween Party and Costume Contest

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Today is Halloween and I hope the jack-o'-lanterns I spent so much time carving last night weren't smashed by some tricksters.  I don't think they'll win any awards, but I'd hate to see all my hard work for nought.

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Today we had a department Halloween party and while pumpkin carving was not a contest category, Halloween costumes were and we had an amazing show.  Nearly everyone was in costume and the creativity was through the roof.  However, our department is all over the US, so how did we come together and judge costumes?  We did it using Telepresence.

We had 8 immersive Telepresence rooms at different Cisco locations in California, Texas and Massachusetts.   We also had another 5 locations using EX systems.  We then had a bunch of people joining over WebEx with video.  We had attendees from 8 different states covering all US timezones.  We even had a participant from London.  Furthermore, for the contest we had an independent panel of judges that were in a separate location.  They were not part of our department, but offered their services in selecting the best costumes and I think they did a fabulous job at it. 

Each location did a round robin of attendees who showed off their costume and told what it was.  One woman was 37 weeks pregnant (I think that's about 10 1/2 months) and incorporated her physique into her costume of a glove with a baseball in it.  A group of people conspired to be hover-cards as you'd see in a Jabber buddy list.  We also had an array of monsters, TV, movie and game characters, animals, and a couple of pun costumes.  The creativity and talent of everybody involved really showed through on video.  You can see many of the Halloween costumes on the Cisco TelePresence Facebook Page.

As a department, one of our core values is "Celebration".  We celebrate professional achievements by recognizing individual and team contributions.  We have formal team events to acknowledge and celebrate our successes.  Just as important we encourage informal team gatherings.  The sharing of personal stories and experiences.  We are genuinely interested in each other and celebrate personal milestones, such as a new family member.  (We've had quite a few virtual baby showers.)  We exemplify celebration by coming together as a team to have fun, to laugh out loud at ourselves and others, and to applaud those we work with closely and from afar.

Being able to have fun and celebrate real-time with team members scattered across geographic locations used to be challenging and a rare event when it did occur.  Now, we're able to celebrate as a cohesive team.  Personal relationships are fostered, bonds are strengthened, and recognition improved.  Consider your core values from a personal, organizational, and enterprise perspective.  Which ones are most important to you?  How do you exemplify them?  How do you ensure your team has the same values and the culture to encourage those values in others?

13 Comments
Enthusiast

Great example of how organizations can use video to bring teams closer together.  This same sort of thing would have been impossible to pull off over email or by sharing documents.  A voice-only conference call also wouldn't have been the same.  Terrific illustration of employee engagement through enhanced collaboration. 

Bonus points for the use of "remote expert" judges for the costume contest!

Beginner

This was an amazing event!  Thanks to all for putting it together. 

Contributor

With globally dispersed teams and remote workers, it's challenging to support some of the more human aspects of workplace culture. Whether it's a big event or just 1:1 interaction, telepresence and video can definitely play a part. Events like the Halloween party may seem silly to some, but I now have a better sense of the personalities of people I deal with day to day. And that little bit of insight will come into play next time we're on a conference call, zapping IMs back and forth, or trading e-mails.

(Admittedly, I'm amused that one who eschewed the costume wearing is writing the post about it... Of course, although dressing as a zebra with a pink and purple afro did wonders for my reputation as a team player, I probably left a few people wondering.)

Beginner

As a full-time telecommuter, I often miss out on the activities at Corp. But not anymore . Our team is the best and the virtual Halloween party was great! Loved seeing everyone dressed up. The upside for me was that I could take the costume off right after the contest (unlike those in the SJ office who spent the entire day in costume). Love using our technology, especially when it's to Celebrate!! Congrats to Sock Monkey . . . I mean Chris, Angie and Jeff "Martian" Campbell for their wins

Beginner

Using our own technology for events such as this, makes us all better  ambassadors for Cisco's Collaboration solutions!  Oh and adding a few pics to facebook and photo tagging is a nice touch too.  To my surprise, I had a few friends from my facebook world ask me why was I on television.   Needless to say, a conversation on TelePresence ensued

Contributor

As the only one not in costume, I was in fact "a square peg in a round hole".  Talk about teamwork.

Not applicable

As a part time telecommuter living in tSan Francisco I appreciated the opportunity to take a train to our SF office and participate from a TelePresence room.  This meant  more productive time for me and one fewer car on the road on what is traditionally a very bad commute day.  Full disclosure: I also managed to walk outside after the meeting and catch 20 minutes of the SF Giants World Series parade - Go Giants!.  You hear Cisco talk about collaborating any time, anywhere, on any device, well this was a great example.  We had people participating and sharing video from iPhones, iPads, Android devices, PCs, and Macs. 

Cisco Employee

This year's Halloween party and costume contest will definitely go down as one of my favorite Cisco memories.  Being a newer member to the Collaboration Solutions Marketing team, it was great to see everyone embrace a tradition we brought over from the TelePresence world   The creativity and enthusiasm was fantastic and I don't think the level of team bonding would have been quite the same without being able to see each other "in-person."

PS...this is coming from the 37 & 1/2 week pregnant woman (= about 9 & 1/2 months )

Contributor

I see that great minds think alike.  I enjoyed your post on the same topic Witches, Ghosts and Ghouls…Oh My! Cisco Celebrates Halloween with Legendary Costume Contest

Not applicable

- Hey John, someone has to be the normal-looking one in the Addams Family.

- Carol talks about wearing a costume all day as if its a bad thing I rather enjoyed skating around the office. Made the coffee runs more efficient.
- Seriously... I got to see awesome creativity from everyone and it really felt like we were all together in the same place. I can't wait for the holiday gift exchange!!

Not applicable

To see so many people gathered together through the use of Cisco technology was an amazing experience! Of course, the sweets, treats and hilarious Halloween costumes were an added bonus. Can't wait to see what the holidays will bring!  

Contributor

People reading this won't realize that those skates are over 30 years old and still rolling.  Aside from making coffee runs, they've also had their day at the end of roller disco.  Most importantly, when combined with a cape and Sponge Bob boxers, they add up to the right kind of crazy in raising money for the Multiple Myeloma Research foundation!

Not applicable

Great fun. Great event. Great use of collaboration !

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