This Is How We Get Laid Off Now. At Home, Alone

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.On March 17, I lost my job. It came as no surprise to me: I worked for G Adventures, a small group travel company, and travel and tourism are among the industries hardest-hit by the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. And my position—overseeing the company’s in-house blog—was, I will readily admit,…

This Is How We Get Laid Off Now. At Home, Alone

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.On March 17, I lost my job. It came as no surprise to me: I worked for G Adventures, a small group travel company, and travel and tourism are among the industries hardest-hit by the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. And my position—overseeing the company’s in-house blog—was, I will readily admit, very easy to justify as inessential. It wasn’t unsurprising to everyone, though—least of all how it went down. The layoffs came just a day after G Adventures instituted its mandatory work-from-home policy, following suit with most major offices around the world in telling its employees to stay home in order to enforce social distancing protocols. And how do you lay off people—and I say “people” because, by and large, this is happening en masse—when you can’t sit in a room with them? Remotely, of course. These were layoffs with all the life-shaking devastation of losing your job, but none of the humanity. And for now—and for the foreseeable future—that’s the status quo. The use of the remote layoff isn’t exclusive (or novel) to the COVID-19 epidemic and its ensuing economic turmoil—but its prevalence certainly might be. Mass layoffs in the time of coronavirus have largely come after companies told its employees to simply stay home, meaning we’re all finding out in different, varyingly detached ways—over Zoom calls, via email, on Skype or, heaven forbid, over Slack—that we’ve lost our jobs. It seems cold, but right now, what’s the other option? “Heeding advice now in regard to safety trumps requirements for providing face-to-face disclosure,” said Nita Chhinzer, an associate professor in human resources and business consulting at the University of Guelph. “There’s a general understanding now that some of these conversations, even things like performance reviews, are no longer taking place face to face. I think the scale at which layoffs are happening necessitates some sort of impersonal experience for layoffs.” Peter Morin worked as a R
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