June 16, 2024

“It’s a day at work at Google,” the clip begins. We saw a woman in Los Angeles drive to the office, get valet parking, grab some iced coffee and a banana, and then tackle some tasks on a blurry screen. She showed off but refused to eat the snacks that filled the cabinet, and then described in detail the salad she offered for free. Office Highlights Her surroundings include a nap room and a Harry Potter-themed conference room filled with twinkling lights and flags.

“Welcome to a day in the life of my 22-year-old, living in New York and working at Google,” another clip began.this Employees described a day of meetings, But shoot the food and the interiors: the open area is filled with colorful couches, and the rooms are filled with plants. The bathrooms are stocked with Listerine, Lubriderm lotion and hair clips; the fridge is stocked with Red Bull, baby carrots and various juices. She brought a plate of barbecue. She opened the drawers labeled “Snacks,” each filled with more than the last: chewing gum, mints, M&Ms, bags of assorted potato chips. She ends with a view of Chelsea Piers.

Workplace TikToks take us through a day at work—often high-paying jobs in tech, banking, or consulting. Energetic narrators, usually women in their 20s, present condensed and curated versions of their daily lives: commutes, coffee, tasks, amenities, lunches, meetings, happy hour trips. As a format, video appears to be peaking in 2022, as workers demonstrate the elaborate perks of working for tech and financial giants. For the most part, the substance of the work is accidental; the narrator glosses over spreadsheets, deadlines, and check-ins so much that many see these videos as how spoiled and lazy the young professional class has become evidence of. But these clips have nothing to do with labor. They are about the representation of class roles that labor brings.

Thus, the office conveys the expense and convenience. The texture is smooth and the food is rich. Tasks live in the negative space, and amenities fill the rest. The videos play the same role as the movies and TV series that once provided inspirational images of different industries: a romantic comedy about a magazine editor, a TV series about a glamorous lawyer, an office littered on a foosball table Stories of young tech workers in the novel—these are not marked for the part where the characters reply to the email. Young people have long turned to the media to form ideas about work, including off-base ideas. On TikTok, their ideas come not from Hollywood producers, but from the workers themselves. Indeed, those who make TikToks Workday often claim in voiceovers and interviews that they are working to increase access to exclusive workspaces and educate young workers, especially those from groups that have historically been denied access to elite jobs.

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