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Apr 25, 2023

Remote Work Layoffs Threaten Morale and Productivity of Remaining Employees

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Remote Work Layoffs

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.

Key Take-Away

Remote work layoffs impact employee morale and productivity. Mitigate with support and resources like training, flexible work, and collaboration...>Click to tweet

Image credit: George Milton/Pexels

Lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at

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