On Tuesday morning, an email from the CEO showed up in everyone's inbox with an important video announcement: we were undergoing "corporate restructuring." Shortly thereafter, a series of "mandatory business update" meeting invitations from various important people popped up on the Outlook calendar (is it still called an "invitation" if the meeting is mandatory?), presumably to inform the masses of all the relevant details. Hours before the first of these meetings was scheduled to take place, however, the news had already been announced publicly.
There would be significant layoffs accompanying this restructuring effort, and we would later learn that roughly 10% of the main office population would be taking the 'ol mandatory, extended, unpaid vacation. What we still don't yet know is who stays and who goes. Employees don't learn their fate until late June, which leaves a five week stretch of waiting, wondering, and rampant speculation.
Some are genuinely worried, but I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy. In the spirit of looking for the silver lining in this situation, I've prepared a list of the top ten reasons that corporate restructuring can be fun. Today's post includes #10 through #6...and yes, that means I'm going to milk this for all it's worth and spread this post out over two days. But at difficult times like these, I think it's safe to say that the world could use an extra day of unbridled optimism:
#10: A Day at Work "Away From the Cubicle"
The instant I read the email from the CEO on Tuesday morning, I knew absolutely no work was going to get done that day. Over the next twenty-four hours, I spent almost no time at my desk as I attended four different "mandatory business updates," each ranging in length from thirty to sixty minutes. Since each different business leader was required to stick to the same canned (no pun intended) script and PowerPoint presentation, these updates were painfully repetitive and uninformative. It was the same message over and over: "lots of you are going to get fired and most will end up in a new job, but that's all you'll know for five weeks." But as I expected, nothing got done on Tuesday, so the day wasn't a total loss.
#9: Count the Synergies!
As referenced above, the "mandatory business updates" were a spectacular waste of time, but it was mildly entertaining to count the number of times a division president could sneak some variation of the word "synergy" into a prepared statement. I lost count somewhere around seventy-eight, halfway through the first mandatory business update.
#8: The Retirement Blues
Retirement is a time for celebration and reflection, but for the unlucky bunch who announced summer retirements in the weeks leading up to the announcement, Tuesday didn't offer much fuel for the celebratory fires--if only they'd withheld that announcement a little longer, there's a good chance they could have collected a hefty severance package before riding off into the sunset. During the Q&A session at one of these meetings, it's rumored that one such pending retiree asked, "can I rescind my retirement and be severed?" Apparently the answer was "no." Bad news for the older workers, yet absolutely hilarious for those of us in the infancy of our careers.
#7: Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?
In the days following the announcement, it's been delightfully entertaining to watch the reactions of my coworkers. Employees' responses to the chaos generally fall into one of three categories. Some aren't terribly concerned and go about their business as usual. Others fear for the worst and adopt the philosophy, "if there's any chance I'm about to get fired, I'm not gonna go down working hard!" The threat of layoff seems to have a lit a fire under the seats of the third group of workers, who seemed mysteriously motivated and friendly this week. In my opinion, at this point it's too little, too late--I think the layoff decisions have already been made, even if they're not officially unannounced until late June. But regardless, the next five weeks hold the promise of pure entertainment as I watch the spectacularly lazy, the suddenly motivated, and the generally indifferent work together in all kinds of potentially hilarious office situations.
#6: The Summer Of George!
An unplanned job search is about as appealing as licking a toilet seat at a truck stop, but it's tough to frown too hard when my mind wanders to the image of collecting a severance package and getting paid to do absolutely nothing for an extended length of time. Paid unemployment would be a sweet, sweet early preview of retirement...or, for the overly motivated show-offs who hate fun and choose to go back to work immediately, it could mean collecting a double paycheck while working a single job.
Much like George Costanza's glorious three months' severance pay after getting laid off from his job with the New York Yankees, the Summer of John makes for an enticing fantasy...
Check back tomorrow for the top five reasons corporate restructuring can be fun. If you thought today's blog post sucked, then check back on Sunday, because the outlook for tomorrow looks surprisingly similar to what you just read today....