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When The Office becomes reality

In a scene that could've come from TV show 'The Office', Vishal Garg the boss of Better dot com โ€” slogan 'we're not just fixing a broken system, we're improving it' ๐Ÿ˜ณ โ€” opts to fire 900 employees on a Zoom call.

Warning: video contains expletives, for understandable reasons.

His explanation is that since he took the decision, he wants the impacted employees to hear it directly from him. Nice words, that are then seriously undermined by the method and content of the communication. The way in which he builds to the 'reveal' is astonishingly insensitive โ€” not least the fact he makes it all about how difficult this is for him.

Not only is this not a good way to treat those who are being made redundant, but it also sends a very clear signal to the remaining employees about the company culture.

And don't get me started on the terrible 'casual, side of desk' video setup

A Creative Director's view

Having seen me post the above on LinkedIn, my friend Mark Heywood โ€” a producer, director and writer โ€” provided the following analysis, which I think is fantastic:

"An arts industry perspective might add to the narrative here:

1) The frame - The clothing (lots of layers), the folded arm, the jutting out desk, the gap to the camera - all equal distance. He's doing everything possible not to engage.

2) Performance - The lack of looking at the camera reinforces this point. So does the body language. He's broadcasting, not engaging with them. He is saying the words, not feeling them.

3) Set dressing - The bare walls suggest little of substance in either the person, the message, or the company - which given they are called "Better" is not good enough.

4) Dialling it in - He says he's done this before. Perhaps not in the same manner but I suspect he's not learned from the first time.

5) Script - Playing himself as victim means the specifics of the message (pay and benefits) is completely lost. This scene wouldn't pass the first edit.

6) Character - Nor would this "character". No empathy, self-serving, and untrustworthy.

7) Lived experience - I've let dozens and dozens of people go in my career. If it doesn't cost you something personally, you aren't doing it right. It isn't a transaction. It's a hammer blow to the other person. He isn't invested in this "scene" because it doesn't impact him - and the words don't count for all the reasons above.

I don't know him or the company - but I hope this helps unpick many of the reasons why this isn't good - on many levels, as already articulated by others more qualified than me to comment. The corporate world can learn so much from the arts - not, ahem, in terms of how an industry should be run, but definitely in terms of how leaders can tell better stories, engage authentically, and learn what it is like to be on the receiving end of them"

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