Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Fallout

Well, it's not just another day in the life of a high-tech worker... it's the day after my entire office got laid off, two weeks before Christmas.

The last time this happened to me nearly three years ago, I was at a telecommunications company along with about 90 others in Vancouver. They gave half of us three months notice, and the other half no notice at all. The severance packages were fantastic and the timing was good for me - a bunch of co-workers had recently resigned to begin a startup. I got a call from the startup two days later, asking me if I wanted to come join them. So for four months, I was getting two paychecks, double benefits, and a new and exciting job. Not a bad way to live!

This time is a bit different. The startup company was bought out by a big supercomputer company in 2003. They wanted our product badly to fill in a gap that their business case was lacking. So they acquired us, mismanaged us, and finally gave us the boot. Our product is now their product and our people got the shaft. Most of the people here will be terminated as of March 31, 2006. Some in July, some in December. So instead of severance packages, we get "working notice".

But, such is the vicious cycle of high-tech... startup, buyout, layoff... I feel so cynical to think of it that way, but that's just the way it is. This time there are no huge severance packages, and there is an incentive to leave early to collect some extra cash - up to 50% of your working notice.

Well, for everyone but me. Being 5 months pregnant hardly makes me an attractive candidate for employment, and I think the job search is more stress than I'm willing to take on. And I'm lucky that I don't have to, my higher-ups definitely went to bat for me and managed to get me my maternity leave with benefits, if I stick around until my due date. That's a better severance package than anyone else got! When I return, I am supposed to resign, since there will be no job waiting for me. I'm still not quite sure of the legality of things and find it perplexing to find out how much of a favour these people are doing me.

That means coming here to work each day. The environment is so toxic. Everyone is working on their resumes, searching for new jobs, venting about the company bigwigs, etc. I've been told that I should just "work from home", meaning work on my knitting, renovations, walk the dog, and all while receiving a paycheck. Crazy but true.

Sounds like a great situation, doesn't it?

It's not. I feel guilt coming into a job and getting paid for sitting on my heiny. I feel bad for the people around me that are all competing for the same set of jobs. I hate that people's Christmases have been ruined by this, when I just carry on, business as normal. How can anything be normal? What do they really expect us to accomplish in the next three months?

All I know is that surfing the web, blogging and polishing my resume makes for a really long and boring work day.


  1. Holy wow - this completely sucks Callie - but sadly I know all too well how you feel (except for the five-months pregnant part). I'd suggest that you take a big break - and don't look for anything for a while. There will be time enough to get things back on track after your maternity leave ends - just laugh at the absurdity of this life and enjoy the things that are really important.

    I try to keep warning people - don't get into high-tech - it's a deathtrap! If I can convince just one budding engineer to get a botanist job instead, I'll be content.

  2. Go home Callie. Enjoy your early maternity leave.

    Look after yourself, your baby, and your husband and ignore the office. It is toxic and will eat at you...I've been in the same situation recently.

    Just go home. Don't feel guilty, it's a waste of effort and stomach lining. They are willing to pay you...just take it.

    Go home.

  3. Hi - I stumbled upon your blog. Congrats on your pregnancy - I'm sorry to hear about the sad work situation - that can't be fun at all. Sending you good thoughts! Would you mind if I added you to my blog roll?

  4. Sorry to hear about the lay-offs, Callie. That really does suck. I guess that's why us civil engineers don't make as much, at least we have the job security.

    Try and enjoy the extra non-work time, and take care of yourself!

  5. Wow Callie,
    I thought the people I work for lacked class! That is brutal news to deliver to people two weeks before Christmas. I know this sucks now but there is no doubt new opportunities will come your way! I'm glad to hear you have your maternity leave secured. I agree with gkarlsen - relax, ignore the office and don't get drawn into the toxic crap (I don't expect you would anyway).

  6. Callster... been there...got through it. Take the favour and run. Enjoy the time off pre-baby and take the time to prepare and relax because life does get unusually busy after the birth.

    Don't feel guilty. They didn't feel guilty making you work long hours and not compensating you for it!!