About Sun Microsystems

Like many chief executives, Scott McNealy enjoys a game of golf in the sun. But he was surprised when the

golf course came to Sun — one April 1, his staff transplanted turf, tee and bunkers into his office.

[email protected] is both a catchphrase and a social events programme at the young, flexible company, which was founded by McNealy in 1982. It makes servers and workstations to help people connect to the internet as easily as flicking on a light.

McNealy’s golfing passion and straight-talking approach have been beamed to the firm’s 16 British offices — 88% of staff praise his positive energy, the 11th-highest score. And last year the company took over Skibo Castle in Scotland for a golf marathon to raise money for children’s charities.

After almost three decades of success, developing the Java computer language, and starting to challenge the dominance of Microsoft, Sun had a difficult year in 2002, recording losses of £373m. In Britain,

this has meant redundancy for 278 people, 9% of the workforce. All were given payments above the government requirement and help from an outplacement service; rather than hide in their offices, managers aimed to be as visible and helpful as possible.

Despite some tough times, employees are not gloomy. Although only 14 firms scored lower, 65% still say they love working for Sun Microsystems. About 70% of them praise their workplace benefits, which include a gym, and fitness and wellbeing centre in a state-of-the-art new building in Blackwater, Surrey, with qualified therapists, a hairdresser, beauticians and concierge.

The office was built to accommodate one of the company’s strong points: complete flexible working for everybody. There is hot-desking everywhere and special courses on how to cope with the flexibility. People can work from home, any office or customer location, or use the London drop-in zone — although the slight negative is that 40% of staff say work interferes with their responsibilities at home and they are not happy with their work-life balance.

Even when there are hard questions to be asked, the firm takes a soft approach:

last year’s annual address given to the entire UK operation was given by the human resources director, Mike Dunlop, lying on a leopard-skin covered bed, on stage and interviewed by Lily Savage.

Company Statistics

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  • Under 35 to Over 55 Ratio:

    No employees under 35

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