Jan 29, 2023 - Economy

Lonely layoffs in the work-from-anywhere world

Illustration of a stack of pink slips with a pointing finger cursor holding them up

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The recent wave of layoffs in the tech industry and beyond is exposing a harsh reality of the remote and hybrid working world.

  • Virtual layoffs add a layer of loneliness and stress distinct from in-person job cuts.

Driving the news: Some 58,000 tech workers have already been laid off this month, per Crunchbase News. And around 140,000 were let go in 2022.

  • Thousands of those workers are getting laid off in their home offices or living rooms — immediately losing access to email, Slack and their community of colleagues, The New York Times' Emma Goldberg writes.

The experience is especially jarring for younger workers, many of whom joined their jobs remotely.

  • Madeline Whitney, a 2022 college graduate, was working from home when she was laid off from Yext, a midsize tech company, this week. She joined a morning call that popped up on her calendar, and after a five-minute conversation, her job was gone. Within 15 minutes, her email was cut off.
  • "The hardest thing was that we didn't get to say goodbye," she says.
  • Her colleague Anna Karl, another new graduate, was laid off the same day. "When you're dealing with the hybrid environment, you don't have people there for you to talk about it or ask for recommendations for new jobs," she says. "There are so many people I loved working with that I'll probably never see again."

The big picture: Another anxiety for laid-off remote workers is finding their next job.

  • 41% of office workers are confident in their ability to find a new job in a month if they’re let go, compared with 24% of remote workers, per a recent CNBC/Momentive Workforce Survey.
  • And remote workers who are let go may not be able to keep that flexibility and continue working from home. Per LinkedIn data, demand for remote jobs is outpacing supply, with two applications for every remote position.

What to watch: As remote firings become a part of our new reality, managers will have to figure out how to handle these conversations.

  • “No fire announcements should be made by e-mail or messenger, and certainly not during group calls,” Pavel Podkorytov, founder of San Francisco-based HR platform TalentService, told Axios' Javier David.

The bottom line: Layoffs spotlight one of the toughest parts of remote work — how isolating it can be, David notes. Some conversations are just better in person.

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