For some employees, the meeting took place in a frosted-glass room at the headquarters. Staffers who spoke with CNN Business recalled an executive dryly reading a few lines apologizing for a period of uncertainty and notifying those in the room — who ranged from entry-level hires to senior-managers — that their jobs were being eliminated. Some joined by video conference to find out their fates. After that, an HR official took over to explain severance and said those laid off would receive more details by personal email.
At the end of this brutal week, WeWork’s recently appointed executive chairman, Marcelo Claure, briefed employees on the company’s strategy. At an all-hands meeting on Friday morning, he addressed the layoffs, made several new leadership announcements and explained a six-point plan for the future, according to a source familiar with the matter. He also shared financial goals to inch it closer to profitability after bleeding money.
Employee reactions to the layoffs were a mix of shock, disappointment and relief after what some described as a waiting game. For months, there had been waves of people leaving the company.
One former staffer said he felt “blindsided” because he had asked some higher-ups whether his job might be impacted ahead of this week’s news. “According to them, there was nothing to be worried about,” he said, noting his surprise when he received a meeting invite. He and several others spent a few minutes deciphering if the invite could be anything but the layoffs before calling loved ones.
In the same meeting where employees were told their roles were being terminated, some staffers were told they could apply for other internal jobs at WeWork. Those at the company for four years or more were given six months severance and those who were there for a shorter period were given at least four months, according to one of the sources.
By the end of the week, many employees had posted on various social media platforms about their departures. These posts highlighted the sense among some employees that they had gone on a wild journey those outside the company couldn’t fully understand. They had believed, and still do, in its mission to create better work spaces that foster community. Some expressed frustration with leadership for leading them astray, others simply praised their time at the company and the people they had met along the way.
“For all of its flaws, I do think that the vast majority of people were there because they wanted to be involved in community, there was a lot of good will and hard work,” one person, who was also let go this week, told CNN Business.
Another former employee said there was a weight lifted after receiving the meeting invite. Some staffers hugged once the meeting ended, then left the office for the last time to gather at a nearby bar. Others who didn’t lose their jobs also joined, the employee said, noting the camaraderie. They also expressed empathy for the thousands of people who remain employed by WeWork and are left to pick up the pieces.