Peloton lays off more employees as CEO quits, federal employees continue hybrid work despite Biden’s return-to-office push

Study shows many employees are working on vacation — and not telling bosses about it.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few news stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Peloton conducts another round of layoffs as chief executive departs

Peloton, the stationary bike company that pedaled its way into recurring headlines and social media chatter throughout the height of the pandemic, is cutting jobs yet again. On top of that not-so-great news, the organization’s CEO, Barry McCarthy, is departing in a concurrent move.

According to The Verge:

“Hard as the decision has been to make additional headcount cuts, Peloton simply had no other way to bring its spending in line with its revenue,” said McCarthy in his outgoing message, noting that it’s a crucial step as the company seeks to refinance its debt. The layoffs are part of a 12-month restructuring program meant to reduce annual expenses by more than $200 million.

The move is the latest chapter in the company’s volatile history. Peloton thrived during quarantine and had invested hundreds of millions in its supply chain to address pandemic-related shipping delays. However, it failed to foresee how demand would shift once the world reopened after the COVID-19 vaccines.

While layoffs are unfortunately all too common these days, what’s notable here is Peloton’s failure to adjust its business strategy to protect employee roles. This is Peloton’s fifth round of layoffs since 2022, when it incorrectly read the tea leaves and bet on more people staying home to do their workouts rather than returning to the gym. Leadership failures never happen in a vacuum — they have lasting and far-reaching impacts. Five rounds of layoffs are undoubtedly bad for company culture — it’ll be worth watching what Peloton’s next move will be in terms of recruitment, retention and employer brand strategy, because from the outside, it looks like a job at the company isn’t the safest long-term investment.

2. Many federal employees still work some days from home despite the government’s push to return to the office

Remember a few years ago when the federal government was encouraging people to stay home during the height of the pandemic? Things have changed in the interim, and now Uncle Sam wants people back at their desks. But research shows many federal employees are questioning the reason for a return-to-office, with many succeeding in hybrid roles.

According to a Federal News Network survey:

Of the survey respondents, about 30% said they work entirely remotely, 6% work entirely in-person and 64% were working on a hybrid schedule — a mix of in-person work and telework. Over half of employees said senior leadership at their agency had not clearly explained the purpose of returning to the office. More than a third were in strong disagreement.

Alongside return-to-office announcements, many agencies sent messages to their employees, saying they believed increasing in-office work would lead to stronger collaboration, productivity, efficiency, culture, trust and interpersonal connections.

But in practice, whether feds have been working in the office more often for just a couple weeks, a couple months, maybe longer — or even if their return-to-office plans are still undetermined — more than two-thirds of survey respondents agreed that in-office work accomplishes the reverse: It makes them less productive.

If you’re going to implement a return-to-office mandate, that’s within your rights as a company, but you need to be sure that you communicate about it correctly. There shouldn’t ever be a situation in which your employees are questioning why they’re coming back to the office in the first place. Communicators, take a cue from your people: If they tell you being back in the office makes them less productive, believe them. Your people are your best resource — trust them and work to build your culture of communication around them.

3. Study: Employees are secretly working from vacation locales

Would you go on vacation and work from a far-flung place without telling your boss? If you have, you’re part of a large cohort of employees that are doing the same.

According to a study by cloud hospitality service Mews that polled over 2,000 travelers and hotel workers, 29% of the cohort reported that they’d work remotely from a vacation spot without telling anyone or said they’d already done so.

In addition, 28% said they’d work on vacation to hit deadlines, 26% said they’d work from their vacation spot to save on PTO, and 48% (including the writer of this piece) have extended work trips into vacations.

We’ve written about it a lot here — it’s important to maintain a positive relationship with your PTO. PTO should be a time when people can completely unplug and recharge themselves mentally and physically. If employees want to piggyback vacation onto work trips, that’s fine, but as communicators, we need to be sure we’re encouraging employees to take their time off so they can bring their best, fullest selves to work on the days they are clocked in.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.


One Response to “Peloton lays off more employees as CEO quits, federal employees continue hybrid work despite Biden’s return-to-office push”

    Tom Obenchain says:

    I enjoyed this piece and found the part about working on vacation to be particularly interesting. Sean, the way you describe PTO is the way it is presented at most companies: time off so you can be a more productive worker. I think as communicators and thus in a way keepers of the corporate culture, we need to be careful with this line of thinking. Maybe PTO should just be time for employees to live their lives in ways that work for them and not just time to rejuvenate so you can come back and work harder for the company. The latter sends a message that we exist for the company and that even our time off is for the company. This a message that may not resonate well with younger workers especially. Daily Headlines

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