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Zoom in, Zoom out

When it comes to layoffs, can we lay off the Zoom?

WHILE ZOOM HAS become a ubiquitous part of professional life these days, not all of its applications are entirely positive ― particularly when it comes to the growing trend of mass layoffs taking place over Zoom, a practice that experts say is not only somewhat nasty but also creates a host of liabilities for the company at hand.

Perhaps the most infamous use of Zoom to lay off workers was Better, a mortgage company which caught public flack for using Zoom to deliver mass layoffs not once, not twice, but three times since December ― in one instance, laying off all 900 employees on a single call at once, weeks before Christmas, something Fast Company called “perhaps the most bungled corporate downsizing in recent memory.”

But others (particularly in the tech industry) have copied the strategy: when homegrown cannabis producer Canopy Growth laid off around 250 people recently, many of the layoffs were done on Zoom. So did the crypto exchange Coinbase when it slashed 20 per cent of its workforce.

Laying off people this way creates a gigantic reputational liability, says one management expert, especially when the calls are recorded. “It could also be used in legal proceedings if the employee decided to sue the company,” he said.

Others point out that it almost always reflects poorly on the company. “Unfortunately, many of the layoffs we’ve witnessed lately have been lacking one critical thing: empathy,” added Sarah Hamilton, vice president of global human experience at Workhuman. “Leaders must get out of the mindset that it’s ‘just business.’"

“We get it. Layoffs happen,” wrote two tech industry analysts at TechCrunch. “But as we conduct yet another week of analysis into a depressing time in tech, we’re thinking about how these difficult conversations could be a bit less awful if we learned to prioritize care for workers over increasing profit margins.” Kieran Delamont


Sole satisfaction

A new preference for smart casual footwear may outlast the pandemic

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MOVE ASIDE HIGH heels and Oxfords: the road back to the office, for many professionals, is being walked in more comfortable kicks ― with sneakers increasingly displacing their more formal counterparts.

“If you want to know the hottest trend in office attire, just look down,” writes Jane Hanson in Forbes. “You may be surprised at what you see.”

You’ve never been more likely to see black Nike Frees or colourful New Balances on the work floor ― and naturally, the pandemic is behind it. “One thing that Covid taught everybody is that comfort is king,” said Adam Percival in the Toronto Star, discussing Canadians’ new dressing trends. “I was pretty much a suit guy and now I’m starting to dress more casually.”

The shift is particularly visible in the footwear choices of women, who have never been able to get away with sneakers the way their male counterparts might have. “The pandemic may have killed off the popularity of “commuter shoes” and extra high heels stashed under women’s desks,” writes the New York Times, noting that while demand for formal shoes has declined, demand for semi-casual work shoes has “soared.”

And, for some women in particular, they feel their time has come. “Older women are so excited that it’s chic and comfortable and on trend,” said stylist George Brescia. They’ve been doing it for years and they’re like ― okay, now we’re the cool girls.” Kieran Delamont


Terry Talks: Grace under pressure

Life and business are both full of challenges. There are going to be losses, heartbreaks, bad days and less-than-stellar situations. But why do some people choke, while others stay cool and calm? Ahria team member Kristy McQeen shares insight into how perspective ― plus a dose of kindness and joy ― can  help you combat the chaos.

Watch Here
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Balancing act

Seeking improved work-life balance? It might be time to pack up the bags and move abroad

WITH SUMMER BECKONING outside, many of us are thinking about our work-life balance and ways it could be improved to take advantage of the nice weather. But the biggest thing you could do, studies show, is pack up and move to Europe.

A new study from mobile tech company Kisi probed the best and worst cities for work-life balance, looking at factors like work intensity, livability, healthcare quality and time-off policies. The best spot to be? Oslo, the study found, followed by Bern in Switzerland or Helsinki in Finland.

But it wasn’t all bad for Canada’s cities: while Toronto fell to 19th and Vancouver 16th, Ottawa snagged an impressive 7th spot on the list.

Among the conclusions that can be teased out: Life is not great for workers in major hub cities. “Some financial and corporate hubs, which have long been economic powerhouses, ranked poorly. New York City plunged in the rankings, coming in at 59th out of 100 cities, down from 38th the year before and 21st in 2019 before the pandemic took hold. London, while ranked significantly higher, also fell — to 27th in 2022 from 20th the year before and 12th in 2019,” said Bloomberg.

The poor performance of North American cities ― precious few of them actually improved their score relative to 2019 ― might be seen as an ominous trend at a time when work-life balance is prized more than ever.

“The balancing act is hitting an all-time high. The pandemic has forced us to reconsider the basics of work: where we do it, how we do it, why we do it and what it means for our sense of self,” writes Nick Hobson, chief behavioural scientist at Apex Scoring Solutions. “Wearing busyness like a badge and spending the majority of one’s precious time at work or sacrificing weekends for client deliveries isn’t a noble cause. It’s a foolish one.” Kieran Delamont

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Private flying takes off

In a summer of travel chaos, the aircraft charter biz is having a big moment

AS AIR CANADA AND WestJet slash flights in an attempt to ease delays (and the viral TikToks), and every major airport on earth seems to be buckling under an overwhelming travel resurgence, one crowd isn’t really feeling the heat: private jet passengers, who have been racking up the miles throughout the pandemic.

Spending on private jet flights rose 35 per cent among S&P 500 Companies in 2021, reported FT, with the biggest spenders being Tyson Foods, Lockheed Martin and Facebook; the latter spent $1.6m for Zuckerberg’s flights alone.

But it isn’t just the business set fuelling the private air travel trend. “After the pandemic definitely we saw an increase of numbers all across the board,” said Nowrouzi, CEO and co-owner of Toronto-based private charter firm FlyGTA. “And the major increase that we’ve seen is families.”

It helps that the private aviation industry in the US were major beneficiaries of pandemic aid, according to, who reported that private aviation firms collected over USD$600 million in government funds, most of which came in the form of grants rather than loans.

It also helps that flying privately tends to be a predictably luxurious experience, especially against the backdrop of airport delays.

“Flying private means our family is able to avoid the airport security experience, airport crowds, flight rage and being surrounded by people who often won’t mask properly,” said entrepreneur Rick Schirmer.

Or, in the words of Justin Crabbe, the CEO of private jet operator Jettly, once you start flying private, “it’s quite difficult to go back to flying commercial.” Kieran Delamont


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