Workplace

Meet the TikTokers shedding light on all the biggest workplace issues

Creators who work in corporate roles said their TikToks have allowed them to highlight issues that otherwise wouldn’t be discussed.

TikToks on four phone screens.

Several creators have emerged on TikTok over the past couple of years to show the realities of the working world, from anxiety as a young employee to awkward interactions over Zoom.

Image: TikTok; Protocol

You remember two years ago, right? For a while it seemed that everyone working from home was gliding through their workday while either baking bread, meditating or baking bread while meditating. But Corporate Natalie knew this was never the reality for most.

So Natalie decided to show TikTok her day working from home: She rolls out of bed, throws on a sweater, eats a slice of cheese for breakfast, then brushes her teeth just before her first meeting begins. “During this time I’ll pretend to be engaged with people on Zoom, respond to emails saying ‘please fix,’ and contemplate my overall purpose in life,” she said in the video.

The video is a slight exaggeration of what it’s like to work from home, but it resonated with her followers. It was one of the first to go viral on Natalie’s platform, which over 370,000 people now follow. She’s not necessarily catering to a more niche audience of HR professionals and new workers, and she’s not creating for everyone like Charli D’Amelio, but her sizable following makes her what the influencer biz calls a “macro-influencer.”

Natalie, who doesn’t reveal her last name or the company she works for on social media, told Protocol “I think that was a very realistic depiction of, ‘We're all going through this really terrifying cycle — and then we do it all over again,” she said.

Corporate Natalie is one of several creators who have emerged on TikTok over the past couple of years to show the realities of the working world, from anxiety as a young employee to awkward interactions over Zoom. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, creators said the videos gave people content to bond over. But they’ve since evolved as a way to explain how the workplace has changed since the onset of remote work and bring up workplace topics seldom discussed at work, like microaggressions and mental health.

“I was in a super traditional work setting before my current job," Natalie said. "And I'm trying to hold on to elements of that. I think what really plays is the super uptight coworker who was utterly unprepared when thrown into this new work-from-home world.”

Ekow Sanni-Thomas runs the TikTok account for the company he founded, inside voices, an online platform that helps job seekers understand how companies treat people of color. Sanni-Thomas started the account a few months ago to make people aware of inside voices, but it’s grown into a platform where he can help workers of color understand that their experiences with discrimination or bias at work aren’t uncommon. Sanni-Thomas said users also take to the comment sections of his videos to educate themselves on racism at work.

“It's really common for professionals of color to stray away from discussing anything to do with race,” he told Protocol. “Sensitive issues are pretty hard to bring up in the workplace as it is — race is obviously a really difficult one — and when it comes to microaggressions, I think people are often surprised to see some of the things in my videos that speak so closely to their experience.”


Sanni-Thomas said TikTok lends itself to these conversations in a way platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can’t because users can use comical trends to speak to nuanced topics. He pointed to one video about his reaction to companies hiring a white head of diversity. He mouthed the viral sound, “That’ll do it. You don’t have to worry about me, you do not have to worry about me.” Sanni-Thomas picked up his briefcase and walked away from his desk in the TikTok.

“That was a very on-the-nose way to describe my reaction to that without having to go into the multilayered explanation of why I feel that way,” he said. “If I were to tweet randomly, if the company announced the white head of diversity, it would feel like an attack. But in the form of this comical trend, it's palatable and it's acceptable.”

Creator Jazmyn W. agreed that TikTok is a more comfortable medium to express frustrations in the workplace around racism. While her platform is not solely based on workplace issues, she creates videos around her previous experience as a Black woman working in HR. She’s created a whole series around “things white women say that just don’t make sense,” which has prompted conversations in the comment section of those videos.

“Black women are like, ‘Yes, I've had this said to me.’ Then women of color are like ‘Absolutely,’” she said. “Then white women who follow me are like, ‘I've said this, I didn't even know I shouldn't say this.’ And then the rest of the white women are like, ‘I didn't even know I shouldn't say that.’”

@jazmynjw This is based on a TRUE STORY & she probably gonna see this 😂 #blackatwork #corporatelife #tech #fyp ♬ original sound - Jazmyn W

Jazmyn, who does not share her last name anywhere on social media, added that companies like Google have reached out in response to her videos to talk about her experiences while working a corporate job. “I talk about my experience and I do it in a funny way,” she said. “And then employees ask questions about my experience.”

DeAndre Brown, who refers to himself as “The Corporate Baddie” on TikTok, taps into Gen Z humor to explain what it’s like to work in a corporate job through his TikTok account. Over 240,000 people now follow Brown’s account, which includes a mix of advice and humor about the working world.

Brown said his videos are a slight exaggeration of what it’s like to work as a member of Gen Z. Younger workers aren’t necessarily emailing HR in an instant when a co-worker breaks a boundary, and they’re not always asking for more money the minute someone asks them to take on a new project. But Brown said younger workers are starting to discuss setting boundaries and ensuring they’re paid fairly, and his videos are a reflection of that.

“It's a joke, but honestly, it's also serious,” Brown said.

Policy

Google is wooing a coalition of civil rights allies. It’s working.

The tech giant is adept at winning friends even when it’s not trying to immediately influence people.

A map display of Washington lines the floor next to the elevators at the Google office in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Google has faced intensifying pressure from policymakers in recent years, it’s founded trade associations, hired a roster of former top government officials and sometimes spent more than $20 million annually on federal lobbying.

But the company has also become famous in Washington for nurturing less clearly mercenary ties. It has long funded the work of laissez-faire economists who now defend it against antitrust charges, for instance. It’s making inroads with traditional business associations that once pummeled it on policy, and also supports think tanks and advocacy groups.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Sustainability. It can be a charged word in the context of blockchain and crypto – whether from outsiders with a limited view of the technology or from insiders using it for competitive advantage. But as a CEO in the industry, I don’t think either of those approaches helps us move forward. We should all be able to agree that using less energy to get a task done is a good thing and that there is room for improvement in the amount of energy that is consumed to power different blockchain technologies.

So, what if we put the enormous industry talent and minds that have created and developed blockchain to the task of building in a more energy-efficient manner? Can we not just solve the issues but also set the standard for other industries to develop technology in a future-proof way?

Keep Reading Show less
Denelle Dixon, CEO of SDF

Denelle Dixon is CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation, a non-profit using blockchain to unlock economic potential by making money more fluid, markets more open, and people more empowered. Previously, Dixon served as COO of Mozilla. Leading the business, revenue and policy teams, she fought for Net Neutrality and consumer privacy protections and was responsible for commercial partnerships. Denelle also served as general counsel and legal advisor in private equity and technology.

Workplace

Everything you need to know about tech layoffs and hiring slowdowns

Will tech companies and startups continue to have layoffs?

It’s not just early-stage startups that are feeling the burn.

Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

What goes up must come down.

High-flying startups with record valuations, huge hiring goals and ambitious expansion plans are now announcing hiring slowdowns, freezes and in some cases widespread layoffs. It’s the dot-com bust all over again — this time, without the cute sock puppet and in the midst of a global pandemic we just can’t seem to shake.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Entertainment

Sink into ‘Love, Death & Robots’ and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Our favorite picks for your weekend pleasure.

Image: A24; 11 bit studios; Getty Images

We could all use a bit of a break. This weekend we’re diving into Netflix’s beautifully animated sci-fi “Love, Death & Robots,” losing ourselves in surreal “Men” and loving Zelda-like Moonlighter.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt

Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

Workplace

This machine would like to interview you for a job

Companies are embracing automated video interviews to filter through floods of job applicants. But interviews with a computer screen raise big ethical questions and might scare off candidates.

Although automated interview companies claim to reduce bias in hiring, the researchers and advocates who study AI bias are these companies’ most frequent critics.

Photo: Johner Images via Getty Images

Applying for a job these days is starting to feel a lot like online dating. Job-seekers send their resume into portal after portal and a silent abyss waits on the other side.

That abyss is silent for a reason and it has little to do with the still-tight job market or the quality of your particular resume. On the other side of the portal, hiring managers watch the hundreds and even thousands of resumes pile up. It’s an infinite mountain of digital profiles, most of them from people completely unqualified. Going through them all would be a virtually fruitless task.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Latest Stories
Bulletins