“If you’re on this video call, you’re fired.” Do you remember this phrase? It was pronounced last December by the CEO of the fintech Better.com, when he decided to ‘kick’ the 900 employees who were watching him at that time through the application of Zoom videoconferences.
And it is that, since teleworking has become widespread, the number of ‘situations to forget’ in terms of layoffs has only skyrocketed (it is not that a layoff is any memory to hoard, but you know what we mean).
Recently, other startups like Booking and Peloton have joined this list.
Booking fires 2,700 employees and offers them ‘scare or death’
Just yesterday, at 9 a.m. Spanish time, the CEO of Booking.com —Glenn Fogel— fired almost all of his customer service employees: 2,700 jobs around the world, from Spain to South Korea, passing through the US, Thailand or Singapore.
And he did it, to make matters worse, through a pre-recorded video, a detail that the Reddit user ‘TheSnitcher’, one of those fired, does not value very positively:
“It’s just one more thing to keep in mind when you’re watching his fancy Super Bowl ad.”
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The user clarifies that he cannot publish the video or its transcript because the contract includes “a kind of confidentiality clause” and because he would have to take screenshots of his internal communication platform, Workrplace .
Those dismissed employees will not, in principle, join the ranks of the unemployed: they have been offered to join Majorel, the subcontractor to which most of the tasks carried out by Booking so far (although they will still keep two of their own customer service centers in Amsterdam and Manchester).
But that does not reassure many of the affected employees: accepting the new job, the working conditions will only be maintained for the first 6 months, after which they can be bouncing from one customer service to another , or even be relocated to other countries (even others with lower salaries than the current ones).
The alternative doesn’t seem particularly beneficial, either: refusing to accept the new job could lead to the loss of Booking’s severance packages. And, as ‘TheSnitcher’ explains:
“If you don’t agree, quit or face disciplinary dismissal—which is more or less the same thing—unless you have the time and resources to sue a billion-euro company located in… — who could have guessed—Luxembourg!”
Almost at the same time, the exercise machine startup Peloton, so popular during the pandemic, also notified its employees of a similar number of layoffs (2,800), shortly before the welcoming videoconference the newly appointed CEO, Barry McCarthy.
The company’s lack of tact and/or foresight caused the dismissed workers to enter the videoconference en masse, and McCarthy had to ‘lighten up’ his greeting message in the face of the barrage of negative comments that began to pour into the chat.
“The math just didn’t add up and the status quo was unsustainable,” McCarthy assured in an internal email a couple of days earlier, trying to explain the company’s restructuring after losing 75% of its its market valuation.