What does the TikTok Workplace look like during the layoffs? It gets weird.

What does the TikTok Workplace look like during the layoffs? It gets weird.

What does the TikTok Workplace look like during the layoffs? It gets weird.

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“Here’s a day in the life of working at Google,” the clip begins. We watch a woman in Los Angeles walk into the office, get valet parking, get iced coffee and a banana, and take care of some tasks on a blurry screen. She shows up but refuses to eat drawers full of snacks, then details her free salad. Highlights of the office space around her include a nap room and a Harry Potter-themed conference room filled with twinkling lamps and house flags.


“Welcome to a day in my life as a 22-year-old living in New York and working at Google,” another clip begins. This employee describes a day of meetings, but films the food and the interiors: open spaces filled with colorful sofas, a room filled with plants. The bathroom is stocked with Listerine, Lubriderm lotion, and bobby pins; the fridges are overflowing with Red Bull, baby carrots and a wide selection of juices. She goes to get a plate of barbecue. She opens drawers labeled “snacks”, each containing more delicacies than each other: chewing gum, mints, M&M’s, various packets of crisps. It ends with a view of Chelsea Piers.

Workplace TikToks guide us through a day at work – typically a high-paying role in tech, banking, or consulting. Energetic narrators, often women in their twenties, present compressed and organized versions of their routines: commutes, coffee, chores, amenities, lunch, meetings, happy hour dip. The videos appeared to peak, as a format, in 2022, as workers showed off the elaborate perks of working for tech and finance giants. In most cases, the substance of the work was incidental; the narrators glossed over spreadsheets, deadlines and records to such an extent that many saw the videos as proof of how spoiled and indolent the young professional class had become. But the clips weren’t about work. They were about exercising a class role that accompanies work.

Offices, accordingly, transmit expense and ease. The textures are creamy, the food is abundant. Tasks exist in negative space and amenities fill in the rest. These videos play the same role as the movies and shows that once provided ambitious images of different industries: romantic comedies about magazine editors, TV series about glamorous lawyers, stories of young tech workers in offices. littered with foosball tables – none of which emphasized the parts where the characters answered emails. Young people have long turned to the media to form ideas, including offbeat ones, about work. On TikTok, they get these ideas not from Hollywood producers but from the workers themselves. Indeed, people who make TikToks at work often claim, in voice-overs and interviews, that they are trying to increase access to exclusive workspaces and educate younger workers, especially those from of groups historically deprived of access to elite jobs.


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