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Remote workers and middle managers are most likely to get let go during layoff season, experts say

Sawdah Bhaimiya   

Remote workers and middle managers are most likely to get let go during layoff season, experts say
  • Major US companies have laid off thousands of workers in a bid to improve efficiency and cut costs.
  • Remote workers and middle managers are often more vulnerable to layoffs, experts say.

It's been a grim start to the year with major US companies cutting thousands of jobs.

Payment company PayPal was the most recent example. Its CEO announced Tuesday that it would cut 9% of its workforce — about 2,500 jobs — to reduce costs and increase profits while also scrapping hiring for more positions in 2024.

Still, there's likely to be more cuts on the way, experts say, and remote workers and middle managers may be prime targets.

"Being remote makes it easier to let you go," Ariel Schur, chief executive officer of ABS Staffing Solutions, told Bloomberg.

Put simply, if you don't have a day-to-day interaction with your manager, it's easier on a human level to let go of someone, he added.

Andy Challenger, senior vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reiterated this in recent comments to The Wall Street Journal.

"When a hiring manager gets news they have to cut 10% of the staff, it's easier to put someone on the list you don't have a close personal relationship with," he said.

Middle managers are also vulnerable, experts say. Last year, tech firms like Meta, Amazon, and Salesforce all made cuts to these roles or gave them the option to transition into a contributor position.

Contributor positions refer to roles that don't involve managing other people but instead focusing on tasks like coding or research.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in 2023: "I don't think you want a management structure that's just managers managing managers, managing managers, managing managers, managing the people who are doing the work."

Daniel Zhao, a lead economist at Glassdoor, told Bloomberg that middle managers are often squeezed from both sides at a time like this.

"They're often cut, but they're also often responsible for implementing these measures to get more efficient," he said.

It's time to 'show up'

Though remote work remains popular among workers, many companies have started to put return-to-office mandates in place over the past year, potentially signaling the end of the golden age of remote work.

One expert, Daniel Keum, who is an associate professor of management at Columbia Business School, told Bloomberg that if remote workers want to prevent being laid off they should "show up" and "show commitment."

"The era of remote work is in decline. If the work can be done remotely, it can be moved abroad," he said.


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