Remote Work Layoffs Threaten Morale And Productivity Of Remaining Employees

Remaining employee after layoffs..ullstein bild via Getty Images

As companies continue to navigate the challenges of remote work, one issue that has become increasingly prevalent is the impact of layoffs on remaining employees. With remote work becoming the norm for many companies, layoffs can create new challenges for companies in maintaining employee morale and productivity for the remaining employees.

Companies need to be proactive in addressing these challenges to mitigate their negative effects. Having helped 22 companies figure out long-term hybrid and remote work arrangements, I have observed the good, bad, and the ugly of remote work layoffs.

Remote Work Layoffs and the Decline of Employee Morale

Remote work has made it easier for employees to feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues, leading to a decline in morale. When layoffs occur in a remote work environment, the remaining employees may feel as though they are carrying the burden of the company alone, leading to an even greater decline in morale.

This can have a significant impact on employee productivity, as employees who feel unsupported and disconnected are less likely to be motivated to work effectively. Remote work has made it easier for companies to carry out layoffs, but it has also created new challenges in maintaining employee morale and productivity for the remaining employees.

In many cases, remote workers already struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness, and the lack of in-person interaction during a layoff can exacerbate these feelings. This can lead to decreased morale, motivation, and productivity among remaining employees, as they may feel unsupported and disconnected from their company and colleagues.

A case study of a mid-size IT company found that after a layoff was carried out via email, remaining employees reported feeling disconnected from their company and colleagues, which led to a decrease in morale, motivation, and productivity.

The employees felt that the layoff was handled insensitively and without empathy, and they struggled to understand the reasons for the layoff and ask questions. The company struggled to maintain employee morale and productivity for several months after the layoff, leading to decreased productivity and decreased employee satisfaction.

The Role of Cognitive Biases in Layoffs During Remote Work

Cognitive biases can play a significant role in how companies handle layoffs during remote work. Confirmation bias, for example, can lead companies to focus on the perceived benefits of layoffs without considering the impact on remaining employees. This can result in a lack of empathy and understanding towards the employees who are being laid off, as well as decreased morale and productivity among remaining employees.

Attentional bias can also play a role in the impact of layoffs during remote work, as companies may focus their attention on short-term gains, such as reduced costs, without considering the long-term impact on employee morale and productivity. The status quo bias can also impact the way that companies handle layoffs during remote work, as companies may be more likely to continue with traditional layoffs methods, such as cold emails, without considering the impact on employee morale and productivity.

The Importance of Supporting Remaining Employees

To mitigate the negative effects of remote work layoffs, companies must be proactive in providing support and resources to remaining employees. This can include offering training and development opportunities, providing regular feedback and support, and encouraging collaboration and teamwork.

In addition, companies can also provide support through flexible work arrangements, such as flexible schedules and the ability to work from anywhere, which can help employees maintain a better work-life balance. For instance, a large financial services company was able to maintain employee morale and productivity by implementing a comprehensive support program for its remaining employees.

The company provided training and development opportunities, offered flexible work arrangements, and encouraged collaboration and teamwork through regular virtual meetings and events. This approach helped the remaining employees feel supported and connected, leading to improved morale and productivity.


Remote work can complicate layoffs by making it more difficult to maintain employee morale and productivity for the remaining employees. However, with the right support and resources, companies can mitigate these effects and ensure that their employees remain motivated and productive. By providing training and development opportunities, offering flexible work arrangements, and encouraging collaboration and teamwork, companies can create a supportive and connected remote work environment that benefits both the employees and the company as a whole.

I help leaders use hybrid work to improve productivity and retention while cutting costs as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster

Source: Remote Work Layoffs Threaten Morale And Productivity Of Remaining Employees


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The Oldest 17,300-Year-Old Kangaroo Painting Discovered In Australia

A life size red ochre  kangaroo painting has been discovered in  Australia. The ancient artwork has been dated to around 17,300 years old and the researchers are calling it “the oldest dated painted figure in an Australian rock shelter.” What can it tell us about the ancient history of Australia?

The Kimberley region of Western  Australia is sparsely settled and known for large swaths of rugged mountain ranges and deep gorges. Set amidst a semi-arid savanna and greatly isolated coastline, the region contains thousands of rock paintings similar to the one that features in this article.

Dating such images has always been a problem for researchers. But now, professor Damien Finch from the  University of Melbourne  has dated a series of ancient paintings in eight rock shelters in Balanggarra Country, which lies in the north-eastern Kimberley region.

Finch and his colleagues worked in conjunction with the  Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation , which represents the traditional owners of the land. Rock cannot be dated because it is not organic, but what did contain ancient data was “the radiocarbon signal from ancient wasp nests that lie beneath and on top of the artwork.” The  kangaroo was discovered painted on a rock behind the nests, that when dated are said to have been created some where between “17,500 and 17,100 years ago.”

Cissy Gore-Birch, Chair of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, said that this rock painting “is the oldest known painting in an Australian  rock shelter .” The painted kangaroo is about 2 meters (6.56 ft) in length and it was one of 15 other images that were analyzed during the recent project.

According to an article in the  New Scientist , the team of researchers also measured a 3-meter-long (3.28 ft) snake, “and a lizard-like creature,” as well as other kangaroo-like animals. It was concluded that this “naturalistic style” of animal paintings proliferated in this region for Australia between 17,000 and 13,000 years ago.

While this kangaroo painting represents Australia ‘s oldest rock painting inside a shelter, or cave, humans arrived around 65,000 years ago so it’s far from the  first art works  ever discovered in Australia. In 2009  Antiquity published an article about the discovery of  rock art , including engravings, or carvings, depicting now extinct megafauna such as  Genyornis and Thylacoleo from the Pleistocene era.

While the discovery of the 17,300-year-old kangaroo painting is indeed a remarkable find, it falls way short of the impact of Jeff During’s 2000 work:  Gwion Gwion: Secret and Sacred Pathways of the Ngarinyin Aboriginal People of Australia . This research presents what is “the oldest firmly dated rock art painting in Australia.”

This unique charcoal drawing was discovered on a rock fragment found during the excavation of the Narwala Gabarnmang rock shelter in south-western Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory in the 1990s which was dated “at 28,000 years old.” This location is described as “one of the oldest known pieces of  rock art  on Earth with a confirmed date”.

Read more:

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“Sistine Chapel of the Ancients”: Researchers Discover Thousands of Ice Age Rock Paintings

The 17,300-year old kangaroo painting is far from being Australia ’s oldest known  rock art , but what it does do is further illustrate the emerging picture of life in Australia during the Paleolithic. Cave art has been discovered in caves in Spain dated to 65,000 years ago, and according to  National Geographic  this “includes the oldest cave art ever found” that predates the arrival of modern  Homo sapiens  to Europe, which means someone else must have created them.

And that someone else were the  Neanderthals, who were  painting in caves around the same time we  Homo sapiens  were arriving on the shores of Oz.

Damien Finch, the lead author of the research paper, pioneered a method of testing mud wasp nets with carbon dating. To date the kangaroo, the researchers used the fossilized mud wasp nests surrounding the painting. After deciphering the specific layer of ocher belonging to the kangaroo (under more recent artwork), the team tested a nest below the ocher as well as one above. This gives a date range for when the kangaroo was drawn.

The results suggested the kangaroo is between 17,500 and 17,100 years old, with 17,300 years old being the best estimate. The team was lucky to find nests providing such a close date range. “This makes the painting Australia’s oldest known in-situ painting,” Finch said.

According to Cissy Gore-Birch, Chair of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, partnership and knowledge sharing are critical to preserving this history. Gore-Birch commented, “It’s important that Indigenous knowledge and stories are not lost and continue to be shared for generations to come… The dating of this oldest known painting in an Australian rock shelter holds a great deal of significance for Aboriginal people and Australians and is an important part of Australia’s history.”

How Does EMDR Treat Trauma? Psychologists Explain


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed in the 1980s to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since then, use of the treatment has grown—and so has the evidence behind it. Nancy J. Smyth, Ph.D., a dean and professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, uses EMDR with patients coping with trauma; here, she explains how it works.

What is EMDR, and why does it help with PTSD?

Smyth: Trauma can overwhelm our minds’ natural information processing system, leaving the memory stuck as though the experience is still happening. When people have PTSD, rather than remembering the trauma, recognizing that it was disturbing, and knowing that it’s over, they can feel as if they’re reliving it. EMDR is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist uses bilateral dual attention stimulation (such as side-to-side eye movements) to help change the way memories are stored.

What happens during EMDR treatment?

Smyth: First, you’ll talk to your therapist about the reason you’re seeking out therapy and about events in your past that have been distressing for you. Next, you’ll do preparation, during which your therapist will see if you have the skills and tools you’ll need to cope with difficult emotions. If you don’t, they will help you learn them (possibly using other types of therapy). Then the therapist will ask questions to make sure you’re both on the same page about the target of treatment.

During treatment, the therapist will prompt you to start by focusing on a traumatic memory as you follow their fingers or an object as it moves from side to side. (Sometimes sounds on the sides of the body—the “bilateral” part of the stimulation—are used instead.) Throughout this, your therapist will ask you to notice thoughts, feelings, or sensations you’re experiencing. They won’t do a lot of talking, but will ask questions like “What comes up now?” The idea is that the bilateral stimulation activates the body’s natural adaptive information processing system in a safe environment, letting you stay in the present moment as you’re simultaneously remembering a distressing experience so your mind can reprocess that memory as a neutral one.

Is there evidence that it works?

Smyth: Yes, research indicates that compared with other types of therapy, like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or prolonged exposure, EMDR is just as effective for addressing PTSD or perhaps more so.

How quickly does it work?

Smyth: It varies. If you have healthy coping skills for managing stressors, the prep phase of treatment may be shorter.
If you’re seeking treatment for an isolated traumatic experience, the history-taking and stimulation parts of treatment may be shorter than if you’ve experienced a lot of trauma. Typically, the process takes at least three to 12 sessions.

How can I find a provider?

Smyth: You’ll want a licensed mental health professional who is trained in EMDR. The EMDR International Association is the major professional organization that certifies therapists; you can search the group’s directory at

Is this the same therapy Mel B used?

Yes, in 2018, the Spice Girls singer (whose full name is Melanie Brown) told British tabloid The Sun that she was checking herself into rehab for alcohol and sex issues and undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Brown revealed that working on her book, Brutally Honest, surfaced “massive issues” that she suppressed following her divorce from film producer Stephan Belafonte, whom she has claimed physically and emotionally abused her for years. The singer told The Sun she was diagnosed with PTSD and had begun EMDR. “After trying many different therapies, I started a course of therapy called EMDR, which in a nutshell works on the memory to deal with some of the very painful and traumatic situations I have been through,” said Brown. “I don’t want to jinx it, but so far it’s really helping me,” she said. “If I can shine a light on the issue of pain, PTSD and the things men and women do to mask it, I will.”

As an addiction and relationship therapist, Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a psychotherapist based in New York City and Telluride, Colorado, says he recommends EMDR frequently. “Its success, however, depends of the integrity of the therapeutic relationship the patient has with the clinician providing the actual EMDR treatment and me, the primary therapist making the referral,” he says. “This heightened level of care is essential because EMDR requires the patient to reprocess their original trauma.” If you have symptoms of PTSD and are not yet seeking treatment, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a PTSD Treatment Decision Aid to help you learn more about the various treatment options. You can use this as a jump-off point to start the conversation with your mental health provider.

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Pingdemic Staff Shortages: How Business Can Cope With Isolating Employees

Despite the lifting of most legal COVID-19 restrictions on July 19, the pandemic’s effect on the health, economy and wellbeing of the English public is far from over. The latest development is in the form of the “pingdemic” –- the term referring to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been instructed to self-isolate in recent weeks via the NHS COVID-19 track and trace app.

The so-called pingdemic has had a massively disruptive effect on businesses, who are suffering from widespread staff shortages across sectors. Another casualty is the food supply chain. We are missing items on our supermarket shelves as a result of shortages of workers both because of the pingdemic and Brexit complications.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that people may be deleting or disabling the app, posing a threat to the attempts to control the spread of COVID variants. Business leaders, confused by conflicting government guidance, are now caught between the need to protect their employees’ health and safety, and to avoid the financial impact of closures after many months of lost income.

The government has attempted to combat this through an emergency plan to exempt NHS staff and some key workers, such as in the food supply industry, from isolating if they are pinged, so long as they take daily COVID tests and are fully vaccinated. But food bosses say they have not been properly briefed on what they think is a bureaucratic process to exempt workers.

Get coronavirus updates from health experts

The app, despite its various flaws, is doing what it is designed to do -– businesses cannot ignore requirements to self-isolate, but must be flexible in how they handle employees who have been pinged.

Of course, as has been highlighted throughout the pandemic, there is a vast gap between jobs that can and cannot be done remotely. While no solution will be one-size-fits-all, there are a few things that businesses affected by isolating workers can do to mitigate the disruption and ensure the safety of both their employees and their business success.

How can businesses respond?

Now that we are hopefully on the way out of the depths of the pandemic, the pingdemic calls for businesses to persevere and innovate. This means that in the short term, they may need to rotate employees into different roles, as well as change existing ways of working.

Employers should make workplace changes to reduce the likelihood of contact with others and being pinged – whether this means returning to early-COVID days of social distancing, reduced opening hours, or more people working from home.

If they have not done so already, businesses who can afford to should set up isolation funds, independent of the government’s support payments for low-income individuals, to ensure that workers experience no financial impact from being asked to isolate. If a job cannot be done from home, employers could use the opportunity to invest in remote training or development for workers who are healthy but have been asked to isolate.

For sectors like social care and construction, partnerships with employment agencies could temporarily increase their pool of workers and provide a “safety net” of employees.

Businesses in sectors like retail and hospitality may have to initially operate under reduced hours. But looking to the longer term, they could learn to cope with staff shortages in different ways. For example, a warehouse operative may rotate to an administrative position while they are in isolation, or help to train agency workers remotely, or work on their own development and training.

HGV drivers are currently in high demand due to staff shortages in their industry. This has led to a potentially dangerous situation where some are driving for too many hours. Government plans to improve working conditions and recruit more drivers have not been received well, and industry groups are calling for longer-term proposals to combat the shortage, including better pay and new recruitment techniques.

Business leaders, like all citizens, have a moral responsibility to protect others and prevent further pressure on the NHS. They should respond in a way which protects their employees, and gives them adequate financial protection and flexibility to self-isolate, as well as making workplace changes to reduce the likelihood of being pinged.

Finally, as much as the pingdemic is a concern, it may also be a distraction from wider sociopolitical issues like Brexit, an ageing population, inflation and increasingly also youth unemployment – not to mention the continuing health threat of COVID-19.

Misinformation and outlandish claims are reaching a wider audience now more than ever. The Conversation publishes research-informed journalism by academics to help you understand what’s really happening. Our only aim is to make sure people hear from experts. But without your support, we won’t be able to keep going.


Senior Lecturer in International Human Resource Management, University of Portsmouth

Reader in Leadership & Development, Manchester Metropolitan University

Source: Pingdemic staff shortages: how business can cope with isolating employees


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Living Empathy, Active Listening are Keys To Understanding Those Thinking of Suicide – Carolina Living


Suicide is a tough topic. It has been in the headlines recently with the passing of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. The topic has spurred much debate on mental health awareness and reform. I understand it is a sensitive issue and challenging for many to talk about.

However, I am not one to shy away from a challenge. Recent figures from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention list suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 44,965 Americans pass away from suicide each year. The state of North Carolina accounts for 1,373 of those deaths, making our state 38th in the national ranking.

Being we are in a military community, the harrowing figure released by Veterans Affairs states veterans are at a 22 percent higher risk for dying by suicide than non-veteran adults. I also want to make note of this since “Raising Healthy Minds” primarily focuses on youth, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for individuals 15 to 34 here in NC. What can we do individually and as a community to help prevent this tragedy?

While there is no convenient solution, there are attainable ones. The main point to drive home is that suicide is the final symptom in depression and other mental health struggles. It should not be thought of as a selfish or attention-seeking act. People who die from suicide typically feel isolated, overwhelmed or like they are out of options.

A myriad of factors including past mental health history, access to treatment and amount of support all contribute to whether someone may succumb to it. To help you be able to identify if someone may be at risk, here are a few warning signs:

  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Talking about feeling trapped or hopeless
  • Searching for methods through print or online

People can be very good at hiding these symptoms and putting on a happy mask. These symptoms can often linger on for months or years before a person actually starts planning to take their life. However, taking time to really be observant and have deep conversations with those you see are struggling can bring their true thoughts and feelings to light. Listen and do not insert your opinions or advice.

Let them reveal what is going on and then start to guide them to resources that can help. Suicide is a very serious mental health concern and reporting it can lead to a person being hospitalized Only take immediate action such as calling 911 or other emergency services if you suspect the person has immediate plans. If you do, however, do not hesitate to act. You could save a life.

The good news is that treatment is available. Cognitive behavioral therapy, medications and rehabilitation from any substance abuse are all some ways suicidal thoughts and ideations can be addressed and resolved. While the road to recovery can be long, it is reachable. Together, we can address and overcome this horrible phenomenon.

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