Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Talk About the Layoffs

. Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I had a little sense of relief coming to work today. The bad news is done and over now (for a while at least). The first thing that struck me when I got to work was the empty name plates on the people's cubes. There's something very personal about a person's name. So to see their name missing made the layoffs all that more real. The work spaces were clear of their personal items, and their computers were taken back to the IT department so they could be "reformatted" for the next person.

I have to remind myself that this was a business decision that had to be made. There rarely is ever a person who "deserves" to be laid off. It seems that each person that was cut has some sort of personal story. Some were kids fresh out of school. Others were older people that have been around the block many times. It's especially hard thinking about those with small kids and families. But we all fit in that boat, and it wouldn't be possible to lay anyone off if you look at their personal situation.

But life must go on, and work has to get done. The projects that those people were working on were reassigned to other people. We lost one of our MEP/CA guys so I'll have to pick up the slack answering more RFIs and going out in the field more often to review the Contractor's work. It feels weird having to rummage through someone else's files. You can tell people are feeling guilty about having a job while some of our coworkers (and many other people) have lost their jobs.

Our president said that he's hoping that things will start improving in late 2009, and the cuts made reflected that belief. We'll be keeping a closer eye out for RFPs that we might not have gone after in the past. Firms are coming from out of state into the region that we serve looking for work. There was a firm from Nebraska competing for a North Carolina school job that we were also competing for.

Another interesting thing I noticed was how much more personable people were in the weeks leading up to the big announcement and during the days after. People (myself included) were more apt to say "good morning" or "how's it going" while passing in the hallway (not that we were a bunch of trolls prior to this by any stretch of the imagination).

Our studio engineering leader reaffirmed that those that were let go were let go due to performance reasons. They weren't necessarily poor workers, but were in the unfortunate position of being lower performing than the rest of their coworkers. For those people that I worked with on a project, I was only surprised about only one person that was let go. Otherwise, I was in agreement with the tough choices that were made.

So I think the rest of December will be kind of a downer in the office. The studio that I'm in is fortunate to still be pretty busy. The main project in 2009 for us will be a new $100 million prison and sounds like it will be one of the biggest projects that I'll be involved in to date. I hope that the local and state governments get much needed funding from the federal government. We've got a tremendous backlog of work. As I stated before, the problem is that they are not having us start the designs for those projects due to lack of funding resulting from the drastic cutbacks that the local and state governments have made. January 20, 2009 can't come soon enough.