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Remote workers face a lone wave of layoffs

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At some companies, people noted that their teammates were much more helpful than their employers after a layoff. Shortly after losing her job at an e-commerce marketing company in November, Erika Kwee, 32, overheard a colleague who had collected a list of recruiter opportunities and contacts to help Ms Kwee navigate her research process.

But many remote workers don’t even have their co-workers’ phone numbers and don’t know where to turn for reassurance or information. Beth Anstandig, a psychotherapist in the Bay Area, sees her clients bear the mental toll of this period.

“I hear people don’t sleep or sleep two hours straight on their sofas,” said Ms Anstandig, who currently works with layoff clients and those affected, many of whom are in distress. and overworked. “They are in tears when we meet together.”

Millions of American workers have never known a world without the specter of mass layoffs. This type of instability has characterized the economy since the late 1970s and 1980s, when the notion of putting shareholders above all else took hold and companies adopted the strategy of rapid growth and then rapid reduction. Some executives were quick to portray this turmoil as intrinsic to corporate life: In 1996, Robert Eaton, CEO of Chrysler Corporation, declared that downsizing and layoffs were part of the price to pay to become more competitive. Today, 85% of workers rank job loss as their top concern, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer.

Last year ended with job cuts at tech behemoths: Meta laid off more than 11,000 workers, or about 13% of its workforce, and Lyft laid off 13% of its employees. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, said last week it planned to cut 12,000 jobs, or about 6% of its global workforce; Microsoft plans to cut 10,000 jobs, or 5% of its employees; and Spotify this week announced it would cut 6% of its workforce. For many of these companies, these cuts followed years of free benefits and flexible working hours that were part of what was called a “war for talent”.

“It’s one of the great contradictions of corporate life,” Ms Sucher said. “All companies say ‘people are our most important asset,’ but they don’t really seem to believe it.”

“Calling someone ‘talent’ is very different from calling them a person,” she added. “People are not a resource that can run out over time.”

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