Fired via Zoom, processing the blow in isolation. Remote work injects more chaos and angst into a very difficult experience.

57,000 : The number of tech workers who lost jobs since the start of the year, according to Layoffs.fyi, which is tracking job cuts across the industry.

11,000 : The number of workers laid off from Meta, about 13 percent of its workforce.

Layoffs are among the most challenging life experiences, causing more psychological stress than even divorce, according to one study. Losing a job can upend a worker's finances and sense of self.

Just so recently, angst has rippled across laptop screens, with dozens of companies announcing mass layoffs and even the largest and most well-established workplaces finding distinct ways to create extra chaos in the process.

MORE than 1,000 tech companies laid off nearly 160,000 workers last year, according to Layoffs.fyi, which is tracking job cuts across the industry, and 185 more companies have cut some 57,000 tech workers since the start of this year.

And layoffs in the world of remote work have in many cases been especially destabilizing, with employer missteps fueling uncertainty and unnecessary unknowns.

At Twitter, employees were notified in the middle of the night that they had been laid off, and at least one worker found out during a team call when that person lost access to company accounts.

At the mortgage lending company Better.com, Rena Starr, 33, missed a short and unexpected Zoom meeting in 2021, then texted her boss to learn that she and more than 900 of her colleagues had been fired during it.

In a later round of job cuts at Better.com last year, some employees there learned they had been laid off when severance pay hit their payroll accounts; this was months after the chief executive had apologized for summarily firing nearly 10 percent of the company's employees in a roughly three-minute call just before the holiday.

''They're immediately cutting you off from your technological connection,'' said Sandra Sucher, a professor of management at Harvard who has studied layoffs for more than a decade.

''I've been hearing of a number of companies where people were in the middle of things and couldn't continue and didn't know who to address.''

Many laid off workers are left with a long list of questions and an utter lack of clarity about who can help them. A recruiter at Amazon was told within four months of starting her job that it would almost certainly be cut, and she was encouraged to accept a severance package.

She had to mail back her company computer and doesn't have a personal one, making it challenging to search for a new job.

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

But many remote workers don't even have their colleagues' phone numbers, and they don't know who to go to for comfort or information.

Beth Anstandig, a psychotherapist in the Bay Area, is seeing her clients bear the mental toll of this period.

''I hear that people are not sleeping, or sleeping two hours at a time on their couches,'' said Ms. Anstandig, who is working both with clients conducting layoffs and with those experiencing them, many of whom are distressed and overworked.

''They're in tears during our meetings together.''

The Publishing continues. The World Students Society thanks author Emma Goldberg.


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