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Workplace blues in election aftermath

Tech industry workers find that the election's outcome is affecting workplace morale, concentration. Photo: Company president holds morale meeting

Software programmer Sandy McReynolds didn't attend to his tasks cheerfully Wednesday--not after George W. Bush won re-election.

"I was in an absolutely foul mood," McReynolds, a Berkeley, Calif. resident, said Thursday. "I got some work done yesterday, but I was grumbling and bitching and moaning."

As in other industries throughout the country, strong feelings surrounding Tuesday's election spilled into technology world workplaces Wednesday and Thursday. Given the concentration of technology workers in settings such as the San Francisco Bay Area, the Seattle region and Boston--all areas that voted for Sen. Kerry, according to a USA Today map of county voting--it's likely that McReynolds was far from alone in his grumbling.

For instance, the entire San Francisco office of recruiting company Coit Staffing needed a pep talk Wednesday. All 15 members of the office had voted for Kerry, said Tim Farrelly, president of the company, which serves clients in technology, biotechnology and other fields. "It was such a somber mood all day yesterday," Farrelly said. "We had a company meeting. We had to pump each other up."

Richard Blish, a computer chip reliability specialist at Advanced Micro Devices, said his productivity suffered on Election Day. "I absolutely couldn't concentrate," said Blish, who works in Sunnyvale, Calif. "I went to an off-site meeting and made three wrong turns getting there."

Blish--who is critical of Bush's leadership on a number of fronts, including the Iraq war--said he's angry, disappointed and frustrated that Kerry lost the election. But he's managed to be effective on the job the past two days. Working has been a way to forget about his feelings, he said.

It's not just strong Kerry supporters that have been blue since Tuesday. George Gilbert, a principal at consulting company Tech Strategy Partners, reluctantly voted for the Democratic candidate. "I may be a lifelong Republican," Gilbert said. "But I don't want to see us radicalize the entire Muslim world or run up foreign debt (so) that we can't even service it." At work Wednesday, Gilbert said, "I was kind of glum."

But not everyone in technology has been dragging. Some leaders in the field, including Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers, supported the Bush campaign with contributions.

In addition, the CEO of India-based IT services company Tata Consultancy Services--one of a number of companies engaged in the controversial practice of offshore outsourcing--gave Bush a slap on the back Thursday.

"Our hearty congratulations go to President George W. Bush, on winning the election, and we wish him all the best in his second term," S. Ramadorai said in a statement. "We expect that he would continue to provide leadership in the U.S. as a globalizer and bring home the positive outcome of globalization to the U.S. economy."