The surge in digital activity caused by the pandemic has had a profound effect on the workforce worldwide, with more than 500,000 job cuts announced since October, primarily among white-collar firms as tracked by Bloomberg. The wave of layoffs began with big tech companies, and quickly spread to consultants, corporations and banks. People in professions that were previously considered immune to job losses were now feeling the sting of widespread cuts.
Vimeo Inc., the online streaming platform, was facing “unprecedented” customer demand when the pandemic started, but the subsequent years saw a decline in revenue, resulting in job losses and a 93% drop in their share prices. Similarly, consultants from McKinsey and KPMG, giant logistics companies like FedEx, legacy plane manufacturers like Boeing, and banks like Credit Suisse have all resorted to downsizing, resulting in middle management and bureaucracy cuts.
The stark contrast between job losses suffered by white-collar workers and blue-collar workers is worth noting, as the former have seen their numbers decrease even as their labor-market remains tight. Contrary to the expectation that highly educated Zoom users would have more of an edge over their counterparts during the pandemic, it appears that the so-called ‘Zoomocrats’ are among the first to feel the shock when the axe swings.
The bigger question is whether this trend of job losses has had a temporary effect on white-collar work or whether it will extend far beyond the pandemic era. A full-blown recession might certainly even out the pain, but an analysis of past productivity trends, automation and investment impacts suggest that this might only be the beginning.
During the pandemic, there was a rush to digitize conventional practices, but the amount of investment in the higher end of technologies didn’t ultimately bring an expected increase in ‘digital jobs’. Studies further revealed that while employers hired those with more basic skills, some of the more rigorous job requirements have been preferentially relaxed.
As for Vimeo, the video streaming platform, it’s CEO Anjali Sud recently confessed to succumbing to ‘shiny object syndrome’, as the company realigned its focus on enterprise customers. With the increased adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Generative AI, more and more cognitive tasks are becoming obsolete and many tasks that could have been done by a human are now being replaced by machines. Companies are beginning to leverage the power of AI for a plethora of jobs, and it’s no wonder that CEOs and business owners are excited about this technology.
In light of the changing trends in white-collar jobs, it is important to stay vigilant and cognizant to the potential risks ahead. Despite the job losses suffered by many, being informed and prepared could lead to a successful future in white-collar work.
Vimeo Inc. is a global, cloud-based video platform that provides the latest software and tools to help people create, share and enjoy videos. It was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in New York, USA. It has been a leading online video platform since the early days of online video, offering tools that include live streaming, video hosting, video editing, analytics and more. Vimeo currently hosts over 1.5 million videos from over 200 million registered users, who can be anyone from hobbyists to professionals around the world.
Anjali Sud is the CEO of Vimeo, having taken the helm in April 2018. Prior to this, she was the Marketing and Social Lead at Adobe’s Creative Cloud business and then at Microsoft, where she was responsible for driving vision and engagement in the tech industry. At Vimeo, she has pushed the company to focus on enterprise customers and emphasize the power of online video to reach broader audiences.