It’s a gloomy sign of the economic times — but, if you’ve ever wanted a private, in-home phone booth, now’s your chance to snag one.
2023 is already vying to be the year of the layoff. (As it turns out: Beyoncé’s resignation anthem continues its prophetic run, seven months after its release date… albeit under more forced circumstances.) Microsoft announced earlier this week it will lay off 10,000 employees — 5% of the company’s workforce. Similarly, Google announced plans to lay off 12,000 more employees after shrinking its global staff by thousands in 2022. Amazon, too, has shrunk by some 18,000 workers since the start of 2023. And it’s only January.
it’s happening pic.twitter.com/ipzpJ8Jw8k
— gilad (@giladrom) January 21, 2023
It’s estimated that since the beginning of last year up until now, the technology sector has seen at least 190,000 layoffs; the vast majority of those have come from larger companies, like Twitter, the Alphabet Company, Facebook, and Amazon.
Fearful whispers of a global recession have been circulating since early spring of last year as inflation rates began souring and the real estate market reached new heights of financial improbability. Those faint calls have evolved into megaphoned pontifications, leaving tens of thousands to navigate unemployment applications and severance package negotiations.
Coming up on its seventh birthday, Facebook Marketplace has existed as a cultural touchstone ever since it was launched in October 2016. It’s a canary in the coal mine of the social media age. Right now… that canary has its fair share of corporate office equipment for sale in the Bay Area to perch on.
Spurred by curiosity, I recently went down the rabbit hole that is the Meta-owned product in search of a mid-century chair; I wanted something aged and inexpensive to rest on while I populate Google Documents. What I unearthed, however, was two things: A well-priced antique from the 1950s and a clear trend that bent toward physical SF Bay Area offices ridding themselves of unnecessary supplies.
Office chairs worn by time are being sold for pennies on the dollar in liquidation sales. L-shaped desks unfit for any room other than a business space can be found for as little as $30. The death of the open office concept seems to, in fact, have a price tag on it: Massive glass table tops and pop-in desk spaces are being sold anywhere between $50 to $500; the infamous Knoll-styled benches are being offered for hundreds off their initial sale prices.
By far the most glaring for-sale metaphor of the times is the current selection of private phone booths and office pods for sale — two in-office peculiarities that rose to cultural fanfare and fodder in the early-2010s. This nearly $7,000 example includes not one, but two single-person seats, a circular table to rest a loaned MacBook Pro on, and a power bank to charge your various devices from.
If the above-mentioned offering seems too spacious for you, then why not pay just half to get this one that looks like it could induce a fit of claustrophobia within five minutes of a Zoom call? No need to rush your decision-making process, either; it’s been on the market for over two months.
Situational humor aside, I can’t help but see these ads and wonder what’s next. How many of these unwanted products will go unsold and crowd our cramping landfills; the inevitable layoffs to come, which will only increase collective hardships; what’s to become of these emptied offices that continue driving up San Francisco’s present 27% business vacancy rate — and when will these space be converted/rezoned to allow for residential housing units.
Alas, contemplating days that have yet to pass is as pragmatically futile as it is corrosive to one’s mental health. For the time being, I find it no better time to reignite my gratitude journal practice… and keep an out for an affordable desk I can take off a downsizing startup’s hands.
Feature image and all included images are screenshots taken on Facebook Marketplace