What Does Workplace TikTok Look Like During Layoffs? It Gets Weird.

The mood changed. Workers began to post videos detailing the long hours they worked and the intense pressure they felt.

The clip opens with the caption "Here's the day in the life at Google." We see a woman from Los Angeles driving to work, getting valet parking, fetching iced coffee, and taking care of some tasks on a blurred screen. The woman shows off, but she declines to eat the snacks in her drawers. She then details her complimentary salad. Another clip opens with "Welcome, to a day of my life as a 22 year-old living in NYC while working at Google." The employee describes a day of meetings but also films food and interiors. There are open areas with colorful couches and a room filled with plants. The bathroom is stocked full of Listerine, Lubriderm cream, and Bobby pins. Red Bull, baby carrots, and a variety of juices are all found in the fridges. She brings home a plate of barbecue. She pulls out a tray of barbecue and opens the drawer labeled "snacks." Each drawer contains more goodies than the previous: mints, gum, M&Ms, and various chips. Workplace TikToks walks us through a typical day in a job, which is usually in banking, tech or consulting. The energetic narrators are often young women in their 20s. They show us compressed versions of their daily routines -- including coffee, commutes, tasks, amenities and lunches. As workers showcased the perks of working at tech and finance companies, the videos reached their peak in 2022. Most of the work was secondary; many people saw the videos as proof of how lazy and spoiled the young professional class. The clips weren't about labor. Offices convey luxury and ease. The food is delicious and the textures are perfect. The tasks are in negative space and the amenities fill the rest. These videos are the same as those films and shows that once offered aspirational images of different industries. There were the romantic comedies about magazine editors and the TV dramas about glam lawyers. There were also stories about young tech workers working in offices with foosball tables. None of these stories emphasized the part where characters answered emails. Media has been a source of ideas for young people, even if they are not based on reality. They get their ideas from workers, not Hollywood producers, on TikTok. In fact, TikTok workers often say in interviews and voice-overs that they want to improve access to work spaces and educate young workers, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups.