TikTok’s Work Culture: Anxiety, Secrecy and Relentless Pressure
May 6, 2022 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Former U.S. staffers tell of sleep deprivation, work on weekends and mandatory meetings with colleagues on the other side of the globe. Mr. Martinez said he left after he objected to having to work all weekend even though his project was on schedule, and the response he received from a manager was: “That’s not how we do business here.” ... For months, some former employees said, members of the human resources and finance teams in the New York office didn’t know there were separate teams performing the same functions in California ... TikTok describes itself as a home for “joyful, entertaining, diverse and unexpected experiences.”
posted by geoff. (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds like a job in tech alright. I feel like tech labour is slowly waking up that having what for many people is their dream job doesn't mean they should let themselves be exploited. I did the startup life once, never again.
posted by signsofrain at 6:32 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


Was this story planted by Zuck?
posted by Borborygmus at 7:03 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


"OK Google..search facebook work culture before 2012"

I'm inclined to be charitable and say that this isn't the companies per se, but the VC industry and the MBA industry and how they exert influence on the future of commerce. Of course someone on the company side has to acquiesce, but few are able to withstand the pressure. This process is how revolutions are tamped down. Crazy work schedules and management demands is just the chaotic bloodflow of the organism as its independence it quashed.
posted by rhizome at 7:10 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


Seems like a very performative way of running a startup - people having 80+ hours of meetings a week will produce negative value. The management style is exactly the same as what we saw with Theranos.
posted by monotreme at 7:55 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing yet another ghoulish tech company designed to trigger our dopamine receptors with an ever expanding buffet of trash would behave this way.
posted by glaucon at 8:47 PM on May 6 [50 favorites]


Best thing I ever did as a tech worker was to get a job working with a bunch of government biologists. The pay is shit but I sleep every night and spend a couple weeks working on the beach every summer.
posted by klanawa at 9:41 PM on May 6 [36 favorites]


Best thing I ever did as a tech worker was to get a job working with a bunch of government biologists

Part of this is the bro-culture tech has seemed to take on, it feels like the same culture that Wall Street attracted when I was in school. I've said this before but social media seems to amplify it and even ignoring it, one still has to use tools like LinkedIn which feels like you're a senior in high school being force to read the US News College Rankings every. single. day. "So blessed, worked 17 jobs in college now I'm at Google!" (10,000 likes all from recruiters).

What's funny is that the people in this article are complaining about things the rest of us had to do when working for a global company. Headquarters in Paris and they have a 10AM local time meeting? Get up early, make the call, go back to sleep. Some seem spoiled having worked for apparently just companies in their own time zone and forcing offshore employees to hit their schedule.
posted by geoff. at 10:24 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Forgot to add that all of those biologists are women. Hands down, the best, healthiest work environment I've ever encountered.
posted by klanawa at 11:00 PM on May 6 [19 favorites]


Some seem spoiled having worked for apparently just companies in their own time zone and forcing offshore employees to hit their schedule.

Spoiled? Fuck that. Why should it be considered “spoiled” to expect basic courtesy from our coworkers and employers?
posted by rhymedirective at 6:40 AM on May 7 [15 favorites]


Best thing I ever did as a tech worker was to get a job working with a bunch of government biologists. The pay is shit but I sleep every night and spend a couple weeks working on the beach every summer.

A lot of government workers are unionized, know it, and are cheerleaders for work/life boundaries!

Government work gets shat on a lot, but that's usually because of shitty laws that workers have to follow - laws that (obv) are put in place by politicians, not by workers. My several government jobs have all been far, far superior than my private sector jobs, despite being burdened by predictable punchlines like bad technology, dumb rules, dirty cubicles, and other symptoms of government disinvestment.
posted by entropone at 6:59 AM on May 7 [13 favorites]


Spoiled? Fuck that. Why should it be considered “spoiled” to expect basic courtesy from our coworkers and employers?

I think we are talking past each other or not saying the same thing? The people in the article were complaining about working for a company that was not in their timezone and working off hours. I've done this at a global company where most my team was based offshore. It is common courtesy to adjust to the time where the majority of people are.

This article made it seem like people didn't think they should be doing this which is an incredibly American-centric viewpoint. One of the things I ask in interviews is specifically what timezone the headquarters is in and where the majority of the team is located. If I accepted a job headquartered in Israel it is the same as accepting a job on the West Coast with a headquarter in NYC. Yes some meetings are going to be way out of my timezone.
posted by geoff. at 8:37 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


Seconding klanawa - most of my work experience has been tech jobs in universities and healthcare systems, not tech companies. I worked hard and had intense deadlines and late nights sometimes, but on the whole, it was daytime business hours work without expectations for nights and weekends. Stories like this from big-name private tech companies are a nightmare I'm glad I avoided.
posted by cadge at 9:54 AM on May 7


The spouse and I have worked government funded jobs for the last decade. Pretty good gigs, not underpaid, but on the low side. But housing in the last five years has literally doubled here. Spouse's employer even sent out an email stating "We know long term salary compression is an issue, and we're looking at it," that came off as "But we're not legally required to do anything, peons."

I'm not sure how much longer I can afford to avoid private industry.
posted by SunSnork at 10:53 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Government work gets shat on a lot

It has been a target of right wing propaganda for my whole lifetime, that and unions. It is not surprising that it has become "common knowledge" how those lazy gov't bureaucrats are...
posted by Meatbomb at 11:06 AM on May 7 [12 favorites]


Well said entropone. I only did a few years in the private sector out of college in a flailing startup and it was hell - 12+ hour workdays, frequent weekend work, health benefits that got worse every year because of budget issues, etc. When it imploded in 2009 I fled for gov work and never looked back. Lots of bureaucracy and stupid procurement rules, but a set 40 hours/week (with premium pay for extra hours) and 4 weeks/year of leave makes it all worthwhile.

The funny thing is despite that, we have alwayd a lot of ton of issues with recruitment and retention. The horrifically byzantine hiring process does not help, but I think a lot of it really is vilification of government. Virtually everyone I talk to who isn't actually in the DC area or otherwise tied to government seems to have a vision of a bunch of overpaid goldbrickers who have to leach off the hardworking "real" people because we couldn't hack it at Google or wherever. And it's not just the Fox News crowd either - I've seen that sort of attitude from people of all political stripes.
posted by photo guy at 2:40 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Anxiety, Secrecy, and Relentless Pleasure.
posted by mecran01 at 3:14 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Photo_guy -- I can't speak for anyone else, but here in MN, state government technical jobs pay around half to two thirds what generic (non-startup) jobs do. I'm amazed they can get anybody.

Your average F500 had the same levels of stupid beaurocracy as government, and often the same kind of hours, but with a lot more money.
posted by Ickster at 5:14 PM on May 7


I've seen that sort of attitude from people of all political stripes

In my experience, there is more room for ordinary people to become featherbedders in government. In the private sector, you have to be somebody's nephew or something; in government, you just have to have moderate cunning and a basic understanding of the rules (and no shame, of course). But the simple fact is that everyone should have a job where it takes an actual process to fire you and where you'll be assisted by a union through that process.
posted by praemunire at 5:36 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]



Government work gets shat on a lot, but that's usually because of shitty laws that workers have to follow - laws that (obv) are put in place by politicians, not by workers.


The real problem for government workers is media scrutiny and the inane stupidity of certain segments of the population. Everything is driven by optics in a way that it isn't for private companies. That's where the rules come in.
posted by klanawa at 9:15 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


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