Quick facts

About Compaq Computer

Staff benefits at the world’s top seller of personal computers cover as wide a range as its products. Launched in 1982 by three Texan businessmen, the firm broke American sales records for a new company, making $111m (£78m) in its first year. By 1995, it was selling more PCs than any other company globally and Compaq products are now available in 140 countries through 100,000 marketing partners.

Compaq designs, develops, manufactures and markets computer hardware and software programs and also offers business services. The UK operation consists of sales, marketing and technological support staff, split equally between the call centre and the head office in Reading, Berkshire.

UK sales have hit £1.97 billion, but the firm made 278 redundancies last year and another 269 in 1999. Last year, Compaq announced a merger with Hewlett-Packard, and this was approved by the European Union at the end of January, though it was awaiting US competition authority and a shareholder vote at the time of going to press.

Staff benefits include a nine-day fortnight which was introduced after trials in some departments. Two in five employees work from home or telecommute already.

Compaq shares its profits, giving stocks to all staff in December 1999 after a successful year. The Reading base has facilities including a free gym, commission-free currency changing, dry cleaning and coffee carts of drinks and pastries, together with a company shop. There are also lunchtime sales of CDs, books, and fashion goods and a 40% subsidised canteen.

One employee said: “We have a good balance between work and home life and I am able to change my work pattern to pick up my children from school.”

Women make up 15% of staff, and are fairly represented at management level, but only 8% of senior executives are women. Employees are left to manage themselves and 89% feel they are trusted to do a good job without over-obtrusive management.

There is a strong sense of pride in the company, and one employee said: “Managers have a clear sense of where the future lies and bringing in new blood and encouraging them to be innovative is an important part of the culture.”

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