Commentary: TikTok influencers peddle ‘lazy girl jobs’, but there’s no such thing as a high-paying, low-stress job
Lazy girl jobs, trending on TikTok, grant employees flexibility and work-life balance - but they aren’t a free pass to slack off, says university student Audrey Wan.
SINGAPORE: In between bites of a sandwich you ordered to the office, you leisurely type out emails and pick up the occasional call. You decide to take a midday break to scroll through your YouTube feed.
By 4pm, you’ve completed your work and leave your cushy cubicle, ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
According to TikTok, you have the ideal “lazy girl job,” a term that describes a high-paying yet low-stress job which grants employees flexibility and work-life balance.
Women participating in the trend - which has accumulated over 25 million views on TikTok - film themselves typing away or sorting through documents at their desks, often while sipping a latte or rifling through a magazine.
But these carefully composed scenes may not fully portray the reality of working lazy girl jobs. In fact, I don’t think they are lazy at all.
NOT A FREE PASS TO SLACK OFF
Having greater flexibility over one’s time does not mean the employee has a free pass to slack off. My very first job as a marketing and outreach intern for a start-up was a classic lazy girl job, but it stands out in my memory as one that required significant discipline.
I worked from my bedroom and had total freedom over my schedule as long as I completed my tasks on time, which blew my teenage mind. I never met my boss in person and was only required to Zoom call her once a week. In fact, I went the duration of the internship unaware that she was eight months pregnant.
But I soon realised that while there wasn’t a hawk-eyed supervisor peering over my shoulder or a co-worker surreptitiously timing my bathroom breaks, this freedom meant I was the only one holding myself accountable for completing my tasks.
I sometimes struggled to independently keep track of these tasks, which spanned various software programmes and belonged to different projects. I also obsessed over checking the company’s Instagram direct messages, afraid of missing an urgent text from a business collaborator.
These threads could rack up hundreds of messages, with multiple conversations going on throughout the day.
My tasks were simple and straightforward, but missing one could cause the company to lose out on a partnership or media opportunity. As a result, I pushed myself to maintain a high level of focus throughout the day.
SIGNIFICANT MENTAL STRESS
Lazy girl jobs aren’t lazy - and on the other extreme, they may even cause significant mental stress.
I have several friends in admin support or customer service, who perform repetitive work like data entry and fielding calls.
Although they clock out on time every day, they often complain about feeling lingering weariness from work. One told me that she “dreams in spreadsheets”.
Clearly, doing menial tasks at work does not equate to a lack of mental strain. Monotony, coupled with a feeling of boredom and helplessness “increases stress and burnout in the workplace,” according to the Harvard Business Review.
This is ironic, considering that lazy girl jobs are supposed to be free of the pressure and fatigue of traditional corporate jobs.
Additionally, companies’ increased automation of repetitive tasks may further reduce workers’ roles and exacerbate workplace monotony. More than 50 per cent of organisations worldwide plan on incorporating automation technologies and artificial intelligence this year, according to a Deloitte study.
My friend who works as a customer service representative says the automation of her company’s help desk has significantly cut down her interactions with customers via calls. While this speeds up her work, she often goes entire days without hearing another human voice. This makes her endless loop of tasks feel even more suffocating, she said.
Despite the risk of boredom-fuelled burnout, a friend who studies business administration in university says a lazy girl job has “always been the dream.”
She prefers routine and predictability over the chaos of her previous job at an insurance company, where she regularly worked overtime. Insurance agents there had to find their own clients by going door-to-door and cold-calling as many as 300 numbers a day, she told me.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PERSONALITY AND WORK STYLE
As with any other workplace trend, the reality of a lazy girl job can be warped on social media.
I think one’s motivation to pursue a job like that should not be based on an idealised impression of the job, but rather a clear understanding of how your personality and work style mesh with its repetitive yet flexible nature.
I’m glad my first job was a lazy girl job. As I was fresh out of junior college at the time, the routine and added flexibility provided a buffer for me as I adjusted to the expectations of the corporate world.
The job taught me to be focused, disciplined and persistent. These are all qualities I will take with me to my future jobs - no matter what TikTok calls them.
Audrey Wan is a fourth-year student at Nanyang Technological University.