Optical Companies Extend Holidays

Most U.S. companies count July 4th as a holiday. Canadian firms take off July 1st for Canada Day. But some optical networking companies told employees to take off the whole week.

Is this the work of generous CEOs? Not exactly, for many it is seen as a way to cut costs without cutting jobs.

Lynx Photonic Networks, a California-based optical startup making optical switch subcomponents, has shut down its facility in the U.S. for the whole week. While the company only has a total of 20 employees, Kelly Williams, director of marketing for Lynx, says it is still an easy way for the company to save money.

“This part of the summer is usually slow anyway,” she said earlier this week in a phone interview. “We can save on some operational expenses, and people can rest and get geared up for the deluge of marketing and sales activity in the fall when the tradeshows start up again.”

Lynx also shut down its facility between Christmas and New Year’s last year. Williams says that week is also typically slow in the telecom industry. She said the company hasn’t yet decided whether it will be giving workers a break during that week again this year.

Other optical networking companies have also closed up shop for the week. Access equipment maker Zhone Technologies Inc., which cut 120 jobs from its roster in March, has shut down its facilities in the U.S. and Canada (see Zhone Rezhones (Again)). Tektronix Inc. (NYSE: TEK), an optical test equipment company, has essentially shut down its Beaverton, Ore., facility, only leaving essential staff to man posts. And Tunable Photonics Corp., a tunable optics startup, has closed its offices for the week.

The way this company-wide vacation typically works is that workers who have vacation time can count four days off against their vacation allotment. For those without vacation time left, they can borrow against next year’s vacation or they can take four days without pay.

The shutdown serves two purposes for the company. It forces employees to take their days off during a period that is slow. The other thing is it helps save on basic operational costs. Simply keeping the lights and air conditioning off for a week can save a tremendous amount, says Williams of Lynx.

Number crunchers at these optical companies aren’t the first to realize that periodically shutting down production can help save costs. Technology companies in Silicon Valley have been doing this for years, particularly when there is a downturn in the market. Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP) are among the largest firms in the Valley to shut their doors this week. Sun closed shop for the same week last year, as well.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 10:09:09 PM
re: Optical Companies Extend Holidays Most of the optical swich companies have disappeared because they are not needed. It is very surprising that some are still around and extending their survival. This strategy is meaningless as there is not much demand for the optical components.
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