Published January 19, 1999
Volume 7, Number 1

Sun Offers Alternative to Traffic Jams
New Office Gives Employees an Oasis From Freeways

Sun will be creating an alternative office environment for area employees in  this building at 5934 Gibraltar.

By Jay Hipps
Network Editor

The commute to the South Bay along I-680 is acknowledged as being one of the most crowded in the Bay Area, second only to I-80 and the Bay Bridge. Long hours on packed freeways takes a mental and physical toll on commuters. 

Enterprising businesses have applied a variety of solutions to this problem, including telecommuting and flex time, with varying degrees of success. Sun Microsystems has another answer to the commuter crisis, however. 

The computer giant has leased space at 5934 Gibraltar Drive to serve as "an alternative office environment," where employees can spend a few hours getting work done while the worst of the traffic passes, then continue on their way to Sun's offices in Palo Alto and the South Bay. 

"We believe that we're one of the first to do specifically what we're trying to do," explains Anthony Smith of Sun's Real Estate in the Workplace group. 

Sun has a number of goals for the new program, which is being inaugurated in two other Bay Area locations as well. 

"We see it as an employee benefit, an opportunity to improve quality of life," explains Smith. "Of course, one would hope that there would be some productivity gains as well." 

More Than "Hoteling"
The idea differs substantially from "office hoteling," where employees who normally telecommute can reserve office space on a daily basis, much like a traveler can rent a hotel room when on the road. 

"Hoteling and 'alternative officing' are options that are driven by people's patterns of work, and the fact that they aren't in the office place 100 percent of the time," explains Sean Prasad, project manager for Sun. "Hoteling is a sharing of resources.

"This is nothing like that, because this is a location that provides an alternative to go to work at any given time, to help with employee commute patterns."

Scheduling Certainty
The new workplace will provide a welcome element of certainty to the daily schedule of Sun's employees. 

For example, a parent that needs to pick up their child from a local daycare provider everyday at 5:15 p.m. can leave a South Bay office in mid-afternoon, before the onslaught of rush hour. By working the final hours of the day in the new Gibraltar Drive workplace, they can be sure that they will be able to pick up their child in a timely manner everyday. No more are they subject to the problems of freeway congestion.

A Quality of Life Issue
The program is an innovative solution to an important quality of life issue faced by many Silicon Valley companies. 

"I think Sun is breaking new ground here," says Prasad. "This is not hoteling or alternative officing, but really an alternative to improve quality of life for our employees. 

A Bright Idea from Sun
Sun is known for innovative products as well as its workspace innovations. The company, ranked 184 on the Fortune 500, saw sales of over $10 billion in fiscal 1998. Sun employs over 27,000 worldwide.

The company was founded in 1982, based on a shared vision of decentralized, heterogenous computing systems, as exemplified in their slogan, "the network is the computer." 

Though the company is perhaps best known for its workstations, Sun's product line has broadened over the years to include workgroup, department, and mainframe-capacity servers; mass storage systems; system software; network management solutions; and more. Sun also produces its own microprocessors, chipsets, modules, and boards. 

Sun is also the creator of the Java programming language and operating system, which allows programmers to create software applications that can run on a variety of computers, servers and other computing devices. The company unveiled a new revision of the software, Java 2, in December. 

Sun also operates two sales offices in Hacienda at 3875 Hopyard Road, suites 201 and 300.

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