TikTok’s Demanding Work Culture Is Under More Scrutiny

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

TikTok’s Demanding Work Culture Is Under More Scrutiny
Image by Shutterstock

More TikTok employees have spoken out about the social media firm’s demanding work culture—criticizing the company for pressuring them to work long hours that ate into their work-life balance.

Several former TikTok employees told the Wall Street Journal that managers at the video-sharing app urged them to work through evenings and weekends, resulting in increased stress, anxiety and health issues. The U.S.-based employees—many of whom worked out of TikTok’s U.S. headquarters in Culver City—noted that they were often obligated to attend meetings during typically non-work hours with colleagues in China (TikTok is owned by Beijing-based tech firm ByteDance) and respond to messages at all hours.

Multiple former employees told the WSJ that they averaged 85 hours of meetings per week at TikTok and often had to start their workweek on Sunday afternoon, in order to sync with Monday morning meetings in China. That and the company’s high productivity expectations led to sleep deprivation and weight fluctuation for some.

The pressure to match international schedules ramped up last year after TikTok replaced Los Angeles-based interim CEO Vanessa Pappas with Singapore-based Shou Zi Chew, the WSJ noted.

TikTok’s booming popularity in recent years made it the world’s most visited website in 2021, with over 1 billion monthly active users—momentum that the app has carried into 2022 as the world’s most downloaded app in the first quarter, according to digital analytics company Sensor Tower.

But as TikTok has grown, the demanding work culture inside the company has prompted several employees to speak out. Last month, ex-TikTok account director Pabel Martinez said TikTok was pushing its U.S. employees to channel China’s “996” work culture, referring to demands that they work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week.

In a statement to the WSJ, a TikTok spokesperson said the company is “committed to building an equitable platform and business that allows both our community and our employees to thrive.”


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