If you were laid off, would you work for free?

What if your company said that it wanted you to work for free and that was the only way for it to stay viable? When the tech start-up company I worked for in the last recession asked my colleagues and me to agree to a pay cut, we did. But when it said it would pay us in worthless stock options rather than wages, most of us did not agree to work for what was essentially for free. While we all found other jobs, the few who stayed never saw their work pay off and lost many opportunities along the way.

Meanwhile, other companies ask workers to take unpaid vacations - or furloughs. But employees, often worried about their jobs, keep working during that time. That has been the case in several companies and U.S. state and city governments. Is that exploitation, or is it a smart way for employees' to invest in their future, making sure their company gets through the hump so it can continue to employ them? Making a good impression on the boss never hurts either.