COVID-19: Pulling Together During Pay Cuts, Furloughs, and Job Losses

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

• There has been widespread evidence of layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs at IT vendors, partners, and their customers and more economic pain on the horizon

• Individuals can help each other, paying forward with job introductions, recommendations, and encouragement

Times are tough for enterprise IT vendors. The economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit them hard. Some IT vendors, particularly the ones involved in cloud or collaboration have of course seen great increases in business, but the traditional vendors and of course startups are taking a beating.

At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an entirely expected relaxation, a feeling that the pandemic is passing. It’s entirely normal, people have difficulty maintaining high alert for long periods. Hotspots such as New York City and other areas are showing decreases in new cases and deaths. Countries are relaxing restrictions on movement, travel and businesses are opening up again. Economic data has been grim, but the stock market seems to be hanging tough. However, pandemics typically have a second wave, and we have not really seen the CYQ2 2020 results yet, particularly from IT vendors who often operate on an alternative fiscal year, shifted from the calendar year. There are more challenges from COVID-19, which may include more shutdowns, and more economic damage that has not been seen yet. Savings and bailouts have held many together to date, but with unemployment so high and consumer confidence down, there are economic difficulties yet to be navigated.

As a result, some IT vendors have been engaging in furloughs, pay reductions, and outright layoffs. The same has been happening at their partner organizations, the VARs that in most cases deal with customers. This represents not only a loss of institutional knowledge at vendors and partner organizations, but also as a loss of capability and capacity. Sales and productivity will suffer more than it already has as adjustments are made, work redistributed or discontinued entirely.

Everyone, including vendors, partners, and customers are having a shared traumatic experience. But it is possible to help one another from a company and personal standpoint. We can keep track of our contacts, the people we’ve worked with at the vendor, partner, or customer and look out for them. Quality people, through no fault of their own, are being let go due to economic circumstances. Yet, there are still some positions to be filled and one of these contacts, people for whom you know their knowledge and work ethics, could be an asset to your organization or one of the organizations you deal with. Be proactive, connect, and help when and where you can with introductions, recommendation letters, and advice. The world of IT can be and is more than just strictly transactional and it’s up to us to show and prove it.

Lastly, it cannot be said enough that we all need patience, kindness, and understanding with each other. 2020 is proving to be exceptionally difficult for everyone. No one has been untouched, either by the COVID-19 outbreaks, the economic downturn, or the recent racial unrest. The IT community has been doing its part, but the work is not over and it is more than just what we do with technology.

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