Bird employees say they were locked out of their email and Slack accounts as they were told their jobs were gone
- Last week, electric scooter company Bird shocked hundreds of employees in a minutes-long Zoom call informing them that they had been laid off.
- Although the company stressed that the call's setup - hosted by an unidentified Bird executive, with the participant list obscured - was in order to ensure employee privacy, it has drawn backlash from those laid off.
- Some Bird employees began to get locked out of their email and Slack accounts as the call was underway, according to a report about the layoffs from dot.LA's Ben Bergmen.
- Although employees would be unable to clear their desks amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company is still sending out boxes for them to retrieve laptops, chargers, and company badges, the report says.
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Last week, electric scooter company Bird shocked hundreds of employees in a minutes-long Zoom call informing 30% of its workforce that their jobs had been cut.
Although the company stressed that it had set up the online call with video turned off and the participant list obscured in order to ensure employee privacy, the company's method has drawn fire from those laid off.
For one thing, the morning call, hosted by an unidentified Bird executive, lasted somewhere around 2 minutes rather than the 30 minute-block booked by the calendar invite to the call. Employees stared for several minutes at a dark grey on-screen slide that said only "COVID-19" before being greeted by the mysterious voice, according to a report from dotLA's Ben Bergmen.
And the mass-layoff call wasn't immediately followed up by one-on-one calls with managers; instead, some employees discovered they were being locked out of their email and Slack accounts during the short call - despite being told that their last day would be April 3rd.
"It felt like a 'Black Mirror' episode," one Bird employee told dotLA.
Several employees who missed the call (employees were only given an hour's notice to join the meeting that morning) and logged on to their computers after had no idea why they were unable to access their emails, a Medium post from a former Bird employee said.
The online layoffs were a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the economy. Because startup employees in California and many other regions have been forced to work from home to avoid spreading the disease, employers have not been able to deliver the bad news in person when they've had to layoff staff.
Bird has pushed back on some claims that the employees were laid off during a pre-recorded call; a tweet from Bird CEO Travis Vanderzanden said that the live Zoom call had just turned off video to be "more humane" - but admitted that the company should have led with one-on-one calls informing each worker how they'd been laid off.
A later tweet from Vanderzanden said that the company's managers had been told to reach out to employees immediately after the phone call. "I've personally been in contact with many," he added.
Some timeless practices - like workers clearing their desks of personal effects - have been put on hold because of the pandemic. Laid-off employees would receive their personal effects back in the mail at a later date, dot.LA's report said.
But Bird is still ensuring that employee laptops and badges are returned to them, according to dot.LA. "IT will send a box with a return shipping label to retrieve company assets ... all items should be put in the box and mailed back to us by April 15," a company off-boarding memo obtained by the publication said.
We did NOT let employees go via a pre-recording. It was via a live zoom mtg (not ideal either) b/c we're all WFH during COVID. Video was turned off which we thought was more humane. In retrospect, we should've made 1on1 calls to the 100s impacted over the course of a few days.- Travis VanderZanden (@travisv) March 28, 2020
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