Don’t come to work! We need the savings

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My friend Barbara Kiviat over at Curious Capitalist sends me this news (from Reuters): Cisco is shutting down most its U.S. and Canadian business for five days to cut costs by more than $1 billion.

Imagine the memo. “DEAR STAFF: Please stay home for the holidays. In an effort to save your jobs and our company, we’re going to give you extra time off in lieu of bonuses. Give a holla to Santa.”

Me, I think I’d prefer a memo like that to one shoving me onto the street corner in time for Christmas. But Cisco and some of its tech sisters are known for smart and innovative approaches to managing its workforce. Take its flex options: over half of Cisco workers work at least two days a week from remote locations. That’s cut down on the company’s office costs and jacked up retention (untethered workers equal happy workers).

Then again, smart and innovative workplace solutions tend to go out the window in hard times. When you’re bleeding red ink, suddenly a diversity committee or a work-life task force just don’t seem so crucial to survival.

Barbara points out that she’s heard of cost-cutting shutdowns in the auto industry, but not in white-collar office jobs. Turns out Cisco is in fact following the lead of HP, which has paused operations in the past to save costs. I’ve read of schools and businesses shutting down to save on gas costs earlier in the year.

Is your employer making a drastic call like an enforced, staff-wide holiday in order to cut costs?