Workplace Issues

merclogo
February 25, 2007
Some of Silicon Valley’s largest technology companies, in an effort to cut costs and address a mounting stack of customer-service complaints, are embracing an offshoring trend known as “nearshoring.”  Unlike the traditional offshoring that flung U.S. customer call centers halfway around the world to India and other faraway countries, nearshoring sends white-collar jobs to Costa Rica, Mexico and other countries in the Western Hemisphere.
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merclogo
What’s 150,000 minus 45,000? In Hewlett-Packard’s world, the answer is still roughly 150,000.  Hiring people while laying off others is called churn. And HP isn’t the only aging Silicon Valley vanguard that’s using churn to survive the onslaught from technological innovation and global competition. But the legendary computer company’s use of churn to help fuel its financial turnaround illustrates how the strategy has shattered the implicit employment contract that once bound America’s companies with their workers.
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merclogo
If everyone laid off by Hewlett-Packard moved to the same city this autumn, they would fill all the houses and apartments in Cupertino –  and 2,600 people would still need homes. Welcome to ex-HPville: population 53,100.
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merclogo
June 3, 2006
Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley company known for pioneering flexible work arrangements four decades ago, is canceling telecommuting for a key division of the company. While other companies nationwide are pushing more employees to work from home to cut office costs, HP believes bringing its information-technology employees together in the office will make them swifter and smarter.
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merclogo
October 30, 2005
“REPAIRING CAREERS THAT HAVE BECOME OBSOLETE”
The three middle-age men stood on a Fremont rooftop, staring at an air conditioner pump.  They were unemployed and desperate.  Their stories reveal how technology both gives and takes away, how it is displacing workers at an ever-faster pace even as it creates new jobs and new ways of living.

merclogo

June 10, 2005
A handful of Bay Area commuters have trade the highway for the skyway.  These hobbyist pilots fly to their high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley from Oakland, Martinez and even Ashland, Ore.  It’s a way to escape the valley’s stratospheric housing prices, avoid some of the worst commute traffic in the nation and reclaim a few hours of enjoyment.
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merclogo
May 1, 2005
For many Silicon Valley employees, there’s a pecking order to valley companies.  And it has nothing to do with sales or size.  It’s all about the food.  For years, Silicon Valley companies have invested in their cafeterias to cut the time workers spend foraging off-campus for food, boost camaraderie and keep the troops happy, or at least well-fueled.  Now some cafes are such hot spots that discerning diners from other companies are clamoring to eat there.

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merclogo

February 28, 2005
“HANDHELD HURT: SMALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES LIKE A BLACKBERRY CAN BE A ROYAL PAIN IN THE FINGERS”
Repetitive stress injuries — a common curse of desktop and laptop computer users — are now afflicting people who type on handheld devices. As the sizes and prices of handheld typing devices continue to shrink, doctors and therapists caution that consumers need to treat their on-the-go text messaging work as a physical workout. With sidebar on “KEEP HAND INJURIES AT ARM’S LENGTH”

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merclogo
January 27, 2005
There’s gangsta rap. And now there’s geeksta rap.  It’s all because of Rajeev Bajaj, a 39-year-old chemical engineer from Fremont, Calif., who is either going to become the def jammer of the science and technology domain or the poster boy for excruciatingly embarrassing nerdiness.

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merclogoApril 25, 2004
“IN THESE CLASSROOMS, ‘D’ DOESN’T MAKE GRADE: MANY SOUTH BAY STUDENTS NEED C-MINUS TO PASS”
The grades that save slackers are disappearing from report cards at several Silicon Valley high schools.  A growing number of teachers have eliminated D’s, betting it will boost students’ achievement by heightening their fear of failing.  Most high schools still allow students to graduate with D’s, but many four-year colleges don’t recognize such a low grade under admission requirements.  So these students are learning if they don’t work hard enough to earn a C-minus, they flunk.
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merclogo

April 7, 2003
“RULES OF EXPRESSION: P.A. COUNCIL PROPOSAL WOULD MAKE FROWNING OFF-LIMITS”

Palo Alto may need to call in the Demeanor Police.  The city council is wrestling with a code of conduct that urges elected officials not to roll their eyes.  Or shake their heads.  Or frown.  Experts say the council’s plan to discourage non-verbal forms of “disagreement or disgust” is odd, unenforceable and almost an infringement on free speech.

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