In recent weeks, I have (for various domestic and Covid reasons) been beamed into hybrid meetings, rather than being an in-person participant. We all became adept at the virtual meeting, with its clearly defined hand-raising etiquette and entertaining in-meeting chat. Now we are in the age of the hybrid meeting, and — forgive me — I had never realised how terrible they are.
The hybrid meeting is still, clearly, a work in progress. Nobody seems to be any good at them. This week, for example, I attended a big meeting, with lots of people in a room who chatted merrily about their weekend plans while the rest of us, cameras politely on, hung about waiting for proceedings to start. Watching the in-persons eat a buffet lunch provided by the company hosting the event was probably the low point.
And while the meeting proceeded efficiently through its agenda, the online crowd was unable to see who in the room was talking — although our names were all clearly displayed.
How to get around this? The usual tips seem to involve having everyone on their laptops, including those in the room. I am not sure that’s any better. Tech is likely to help in the longer term, but I am not sure I want to be a face on an iPad on wheels — even if it does get me a seat (sort of) at the table.
Read on for Sophia’s take on the “slow work” movement taking off on TikTok, and find out how to get past imposter syndrome in this week’s episode of the Working It podcast.
PS I really like this article by my colleague Emma Jacobs on the companies trying to reduce, or even eliminate, meetings.
What’s the secret sauce to make hybrid meetings better? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will feature your thoughts here and on the Working It podcast.
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How the ‘slow work’ movement is challenging ideas about career ambition
It’s difficult to find content on TikTok, the short-form video platform, that romanticises personal sacrifice in the name of work.
Instead, “CorporateTok” — a genre that’s loosely organised around hashtags like “corporate” or “work” — showcases young employees who are critical of traditional workplace norms. These TikTok creators are pushing back against unhealthy expectations that have come to characterise “hustle culture”, the overly ambitious rise-and-grind ethos that normalises workaholism — and which thrives on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Scroll through the “corporate” or “work” hashtags on TikTok — with 3.5bn and 67.7bn views, respectively — and among the “working from bed” jokes, you’ll find content creators offering tips and ideas for adopting healthier, more sustainable ways of working.
Laura Whaley, who has built a TikTok following of over 2mn as a self-described “virtual work bestie”, play-acts dialogue between two characters in her “co-worker who doesn’t understand boundaries” series, offering scripts for anyone who finds themselves pressured to work late or answer emails while on holiday.
The antagonist she portrays is pushy and confrontational, perhaps to an unrealistic degree, but the skits get millions of views, making Laura one of the platform’s most influential critics of the idea that simply working more makes you a better employee.
Another work-life balance advocate who has turned to TikTok is burnout prevention consultant Nina Nesdoly. Nina has shared her rest and recharge routine with her 35,000 followers after developing her night-time ritual based on research she encountered while studying for a neuroscience degree. Her interest in stress and recovery was catalysed after she overworked herself, collapsed and suffered a concussion. Now, Nina advocates for being proactive about wellbeing before burnout occurs. “If we have no energy left over for ourselves, then what’s the point?” she says.
Potential pay rises can provide motivation to work harder and longer hours, but after years of working as an accountant and consultant, Becca Platsky began wondering if the external validation was worth the stress of constantly focusing on the next promotion. In September 2021, she co-founded Nitetoast, a calendar and meeting optimisation tool, and is now the face of the start-up’s TikTok account.
One of her most popular videos is about “strategic career procrastination” — the idea that slower career advancement gives you extra time and energy to channel into what’s most rewarding for you.
The idea is similar to Radical Candor author Kim Scott’s idea of the “rock star” worker: a high performer who favours gradual growth over quickly rising through the ranks. Becca hopes to see more people adopt this approach, creating a workforce that is “really thoughtful about what their career is going to look like, [and is] making a conscious choice to be there.”
Managing stress and setting boundaries are not new concepts in the world of work, but the way CorporateTok has coalesced around these issues is evidence that calls for more sustainable work habits are growing louder. (Sophia Smith)
Listen in: Get past imposter syndrome
This week on the Working It podcast we spoke about imposter syndrome, that often-mentioned but little understood phenomenon. I wanted to get past the surface-level talk about feeling “out of our depth” and delve into what’s going on in our brains when we feel these anxious emotions.
My guest is neuroscientist Sian Beilock, president of Barnard College at Columbia University, and an expert on the mental blocks that can hold women back professionally. I came across Sian’s work a few years ago, and asked her to write about “spotlight syndrome” — when we wrongly think everyone’s attention is focused on us.
Then I discuss getting past imposter syndrome with Viv Groskop, a comedian, coach, host of the How to Own the Room podcast (a must-listen for anyone who regularly gives presentations or speeches) and regular writer for the FT. Viv offers pointers on how to make our feelings of anxiety work for us, not against us.
Next week, I talk to FT colleagues Sarah O’Connor and Taylor Nicole Rogers about whether hybrid work is a career trap for women. (Isabel Berwick)
Elsewhere in the world of work:
Appearing stressed might make you more likeable: Nail-biting and lip-chewing could actually be the key to winning friends, according to a recent study, perhaps because these types of anxious quirks convey transparency and honest communication.
How to bridge the skills gap: Employers who invest in continually training their staff have an edge over those who don’t — but the challenge of “upskilling” the workforce is a dynamic problem with lots of moving parts.
Rutherford Hall warns against virtue signalling: In the latest instalment of the satirical column, comms strategist Rutherford Hall manages corporate clients’ PR during Pride month.
Business book recommendations: Don’t miss FT editors’ book recommendations that cover the economy of the middleman, organising your digital life, Black leaders in the UK, Big Tech’s impact on innovation and regulation and more.
JSR’s Eric Johnson on how to lead: The American chief of Japan’s leading semiconductor materials maker explains how he restructured the company through dialogue with staff and stakeholders.
Too often, work departures are not managed well. The consequences, writes Naomi Shragai, can harm not only the person leaving, but also the remaining staff and the company as a whole. In the comments, many readers shared their memorable experiences — both good and bad — of leaving a job.
PleaseDont@Me recounts how positively their higher-ups responded to their departure:
I just told my higher ups that I’m joining a competitor. I was afraid the conversation might be awkward. To my surprise, not only was it not awkward, my higher ups were thankful for my contributions and supportive (even congratulatory!) of my new move. They asked whether it was due to anything they could’ve done better, or just whether I felt it was the right time to change (the latter in my case). The conversation helped cement positive views of my seniors and the company as a whole. I’m not sure I’ll ever ‘boomerang’ but I will definitely only speak positively of this firm.
Commenter “just another person” offers this useful reminder:
You really get to know a company and the people you worked for/with when you leave. Their true colours shine and the extent of their support, sponsorship and friendship is tested. It’s a small world, and you never know who you might work for, who might need a job and who might become a client, so try not to burn bridges on the way out, no matter what side you sit on.
Jude Fawley points out that not everyone appreciates a showy affair when they leave. Some people would rather fade out without all the fuss:
Contrary to what many commentators posted here, I liked the ones where you just disappear a bit early on your last day never to be seen again. I hate the ones where your colleagues tend to give speeches about what an amazing person you were and what not but don’t despise them if they come my way. I generally thank my boss, luckily all have been normal persons, shake hands and just go away.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Read the full article here