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


It's a challenging beginning to the year as several major US companies have announced significant job cuts. For example, PayPal has stated that it will be reducing its workforce by 9%, cutting approximately 2,500 jobs, and halting hiring for additional positions in 2024. Industry experts suggest that more layoffs may be on the horizon, with remote workers and middle managers likely being particularly affected.

The shift to remote work has made it easier for companies to let go of employees, according to Ariel Schur, CEO of ABS Staffing Solutions, and Andy Challenger, SVP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. They explain that the lack of daily interaction with managers makes it less emotionally challenging to terminate remote workers.

Furthermore, middle managers are facing increased vulnerability to job cuts. Tech companies such as Meta, Amazon, and Salesforce made cuts to these roles or offered the option to transition into contributor positions, which are non-managerial roles focused on tasks like coding or research. This is in line with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's statement about not wanting an extensive management structure solely focused on managing managers.

Daniel Zhao, a lead economist at Glassdoor, noted that middle managers are often caught in a difficult position during cost-cutting measures. They are frequently responsible for implementing efficiency measures while simultaneously being at risk of being let go.

Despite the popularity of remote work, many companies are now implementing return-to-office mandates, potentially signaling the waning of the remote work era. Daniel Keum, an associate professor of management at Columbia Business School, advised remote workers to demonstrate commitment and engagement to reduce the risk of being laid off. He also mentioned that as remote work loses its popularity, there is a risk that work that can be done remotely may be moved abroad.  

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