In the early 1980s, Austin was a burgeoning hub for technology firms.
One of the handful of tech companies that had an Austin presence was Intel. Its Austin workforce focused on developing database-management software.
But on January 12, 1982, Intel was going through some tough times, and employees were asked to put in longer hours without overtime pay to help the company through a slump in the semiconductor industry.
From the story:
Instead of putting in the standard 40 hours, many Intel employees are working 50 hours a week without overtime pay to help the company through hard economic times.”
The reasons for this business slump were “falling demand and increasing Japanese competition.”
Intel’s solution: instead of announcing mandatory vacations and layoffs, they came up with what they termed a “125 percent solution,” which meant working 50 hours a week instead of 40.
But the story notes that the longer work hours were “strictly voluntary.”
Again, from the story:
By lengthening the workweek, Intel executives said the company could push ahead in introducing new products and thus get an early jump on increasing sales when the current recession lifts, as it is expected to do later this year.”
Intel spokeswoman Ellen Healy said that the 50-hour work week mentioned in the 1982 article was part of a “short-term, voluntary program” introduced to accelerate product development and boost sales.
The reporter on this story, longtime American-Statesman tech writer Kirk Ladendorf, interviewed a local Intel worker about the new 50-hour week. One employee, Jane Glasser, said she was taking more work home with her, which is almost quaint considering how common working from home is today.
Glasser noted that some employees already worked 50-hour weeks so the new policy wasn’t that different.
Intel still operates several Austin offices today — you’ve probably seen their Barton Skyway building off MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1.) Its Austin workers do research and development focused on the design of “System on a Chip” and microprocessor components, as well as “programmable solutions.”
Intel says they employ 1,500 in the Austin area.
As for the 50-hour workweeks, Healy said that today, employees’ workweeks “may fluctuate according to team priorities and demands, but we endeavor to provide an environment that promotes work-life balance so that employees can nurture both their personal and professional lives.”
Read the original 1982 story for yourself below:
This article was updated at 4 p.m. to include information that Intel’s 50-hour workweek program is voluntary, along with a new quote from an Intel spokeswoman.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.