Yesterday, Toast, Inc. announced that it would be laying off or putting on furlough roughly half of our workforce. This sent a shockwave across the organization — it was the most emotional and tense moment I’ve experienced in a long time, especially in any work environment.
After the initial company-wide announcement, individuals began receiving the news of their own standing over the next 24 hours. People who hadn’t yet been notified of their status yesterday were ending the day early to go for walks or reflect on the unfolding moment and make sense of what was happening, only to return to their keyboards during the late and early morning hours to share sentiments of camaraderie and stories about how much their opportunities and relationships at Toast meant to them, no matter how long or briefly they had been at the company, and no matter what the outcome might be for themselves.
One feeling that uniquely stood out in the midst of all the layoffs happening around the world was a collective satisfaction with how leadership handled everything up through this point. Our executives have been hosting weekly company-wide all-hands meetings to update employees on everything that was happening or that might happen due to coronavirus, including the possibility of layoffs as it became closer to reality.
Unlike the nightmarish stories of recent layoffs at other companies like Bird (you’ll want to read the comments), Toast’s story is one of community and compassion. We were provided many avenues over the past few weeks to help us understand the reality of the state of our industry and how it was affecting Toast, and to prepare for what was or might be to come. Even though the circumstances are out of anyone at Toast’s control and the decisions make sense on paper at the end of the day, that didn’t prevent our leaders and peers from focusing on using those final moments on Zoom and Slack to share contact information, gratitude, and so many tears as 50% of the Toast family prepared to say goodbye from a distance.
Those who remain at Toast will continue to carry the torch for those who don’t, and together we will all carry with us the amazing experiences we’ve shared and lessons we’ve learned as Toasters. We will get through this. A mentor of mine recently said this to me, and it couldn’t be more relevant now:
This isn’t goodbye with a period; it’s goodbye with a comma.