In a significant move on Wednesday, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, initiated its latest round of layoffs, affecting an estimated 6,000 individuals. These measures are being undertaken as part of Meta’s overarching strategy dubbed the “Year of Efficiency,” aimed at streamlining operations, reducing costs, and flattening the organizational structure.

The workforce reductions did not come as a surprise to employees, as Meta’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had already announced the impending job cuts in a blog post back in March. Zuckerberg had outlined plans to eliminate a total of 10,000 positions across two rounds of layoffs, with the first round occurring in late April and the second in late May. It’s worth noting that Meta had already shed 11,000 roles in November. While the April layoffs predominantly impacted technology teams, this week’s cuts primarily targeted business-related positions. Additionally, Meta halted recruitment for approximately 5,000 open roles. Thus far, the total number of job losses at Meta stands at approximately 21,000, resulting in a reduction of the company’s global headcount by around a quarter since November when it had approximately 87,000 employees.

Reflecting on the previous round of workforce reductions, Zuckerberg noted in his March blog post that the company had observed unexpected gains in productivity following the downsizing. He admitted underestimating the indirect costs associated with lower priority projects, leading to a realization of the benefits of a more focused workforce.

The announcement of layoffs has created an atmosphere of low morale within Meta. Employees have anxiously awaited their fate for months, uncertain about whether they will retain their jobs. For some, the ramifications extend beyond employment concerns, as they face potential loss of healthcare coverage or work visas.

Simultaneously, Meta has made significant investments in its Reality Labs department, having spent a substantial $13.7 billion in the past year for the development of its metaverse projects. While some investors remain skeptical about the viability of virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) as the next frontier of social connection, Zuckerberg remains resolute in his commitment to these technologies.

During a recent quarterly earnings call, Zuckerberg addressed the skepticism, clarifying that Meta continues to prioritize AI and the metaverse. He emphasized the company’s ongoing focus on AI research, as it plays a fundamental role in Meta’s augmented reality (AR) and VR initiatives, including content moderation, algorithmic social feeds, and other critical aspects of Meta’s technological ecosystem. Furthermore, Meta has unveiled its own generative AI coding tool and an advertiser-oriented tool called AI Sandbox. Looking ahead, the company is working on developing custom chips and a supercomputer to support large-scale AI research, positioning itself to compete with tech giants like Microsoft and Google, which possess similar high-performance computing resources.

With these restructuring efforts and investments in AI, Meta aims to consolidate its position and optimize its existing business areas. While this round of mass layoffs is expected to be the last for the foreseeable future, the company’s remaining employees hope for stability and respite from further workforce reductions. Despite attempts to seek comments regarding these developments, Meta did not provide a response.