Former employees describe abnormally long working hours, unpleasant working conditions, and a cultural divide between TikTok’s US and Chinese divisions in a tragic tale published in The Wall Street Journal.
Employees at the TikTok startup in Los Angeles have reportedly complained sleep loss as a result of working late and attending meetings with Chinese colleagues. According to the Wall Street Journal, some employees estimate spending approximately 85 hours per week in meetings and wanting more time to complete their tasks. Because Sunday in the United States is already Monday in China, many workers report working weekends to keep up with their colleagues on the other side of the world.
Some employees said they were under a lot of pressure to keep up with their coworkers.
Employees’ emotional well-being and health have been impacted by this type of work atmosphere, according to WSJ relationships. After giving evidence to his manager that he developed a “possibly life-threatening disease,” one employee said he stopped working “all night back to back.”
Melody Chu, another former senior product manager, said on Medium that she worked late into the evening to meet her Chinese colleagues. Sleep deprivation and weight loss have resulted from the mismatch between her job and personal lives. Because she couldn’t spend time with her husband, Chu said she had to seek marriage counselling.
According to the Wall Street Journal, several staff, particularly those working for TikTok’s Chinese operations, felt great pressure to keep up with their peers. According to reports, the corporation had many teams rushing to finish the same project in order to persuade staff to accomplish their jobs faster, but this resulted in “paranoia about falling behind colleagues or frustration when their projects never saw the light.”
Digging In More Details
Another former employee, Lucas Ou-Yang, said on Twitter that he knew of ten product managers who departed after a year because they were required to follow their Chinese colleagues’ schedules.
Some of the information in the Wall Street Journal The report is not new: a CNBC report from last year highlighted the same “996” employment program as the WSJ. This schedule, in which employees work from 9:00 to 21:00 six days a week, was typical practise in several Chinese enterprises until it was outlawed last year by the Chinese government.
Instead, TikTok’s main firm, ByteDance, has instituted a 63-hour work week, consisting of five days of labor from 10:00 to 19:00. It’s unknown whether this type of initiative will be implemented outside of China, but “many employees say that the longest hours remain the expectation,” according to the WSJ.