By Katie Bartlett
Initially coined in a viral TikTok video posted in May by self-proclaimed “anti-work girlboss” Gabrielle Judge, the ideal “lazy girl job” is entirely remote, allowing employees to build their own schedules and end work promptly at 5 p.m.
The jobs allow for flexibility and work-life balance, while still earning a comfortable salary of $60–80K. Judge offers marketing associates and account managers as examples of such jobs.
“It is no dig on women; it’s not you being lazy or a jerk at your job,” Judge explains in another TikTok video. “It’s that this job should be paying your bills and have so much work-life balance that you should feel as if you’re operating in a lazy state.”
Judge’s video resonated with young women across the workforce: Her original video received 3.6 million views, and #lazygirljob now has over 21 million views on TikTok.
Other women have begun to make their own videos, sharing the perks of their lazy girl jobs or offering tips on how to obtain such a job.
As anti-hustle culture trends continue to dominate conversations among Gen Zers, the need for bosses to understand the mindsets, needs and wants of their youngest employees has only increased.
Origins of the Lazy Girl Job Trend
This trend is another of many — like quiet quitting — that are designed to draw attention to Gen Z’s desire for work-life balance. And though the name is uniquely gendered, experts find that the thinking is not.
To be frank, there’s nothing lazy about wanting to work a regular 40-hour-a-week work schedule and still have time for a life. Perhaps we should be calling it the “lazy person” job trend, or the “I want to be paid fairly for the hours I work” job trend.
Child Psychology Expert Dr. Anthony Rao, who works predominantly with boys and young men, sees plenty of men discussing and seeking out “lazy boy” jobs too. “It’s been reported to me by a lot of young men that they’re sick of working so hard just to not be paid well,” Rao said. “This mindset is definitely affecting everyone.”
So why aren’t men posting about it? Rao points to the female-dominated nature of TikTok: More girls and women use the platform, so it has become a place for them to share and connect. Boys and young men, on the other hand, are having these conversations in smaller, less visible platforms, like gaming chat rooms.
Rao pointed to burnout as one of the greatest contributors to the desire for flexibility in the workplace. Indeed, studies suggest that millennials and Gen Z are feeling burnt out at the highest rates, at 59% and 58% respectively.
Now in his third decade as a pediatric psychologist, Rao attributes high expectations and pressure on children from a young age, particularly in an academic setting, as a factor in this burnout.
Surveys suggest he’s right: A report conducted by Millennial Branding and Internships.com found that for the past decade, the pressure to seek out experiences like internships and academic research that were previously limited to those in higher education has seeped into high schools, with more than half of high school students surveyed reporting pressure from their parents to gain professional experience.
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“You couldn’t ask for a more hardworking, overperforming, rushed group of people,” Rao said. “They’re given very little control over their lives, step up to the plate and perform. But they enter the workforce on the other end feeling very burnt out. [The lazy girl trend] is a form of empowerment for them.”
While the new high-pressure culture may be impacting all members of Gen Z, there are some additional factors that help explain why the “lazy girl trend” resonated with women in particular.
In fact, the flexibility and work-life balance that it promises has always been sought out by women in the workforce, according to Dr. Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, the faculty director at the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University.
Rodgers cites the gender pay gap as one longstanding factor that has contributed to the female desire for flexible work. Childcare responsibilities are more likely to be placed on mothers and as a result, they are more likely to take time off from work or seek out flexible work at the expense of a cut in pay.
“Women who are having kids have competing demands on their time, so they seek jobs that allow for flexibility,” Rodgers said. “That’s how flexibility in work becomes a gendered issue.”
Psychotherapist Dr. Jane Karol also believes that many women, as a result of the current political climate, believe they cannot change an unsatisfying or unpleasant work situation. As a result, they don’t try.
“[Political decisions like the overturning of] Roe v. Wade set women back and make it hard for them to feel the motivations that generations before felt,” contributing to a lack of interest in placing work ahead of other priorities, Karol explained.
Rethinking Ambition: Identify What Works for You
Though flexible work is life-changing for people of all genders, experts warn that it also has downsides, hindering opportunities to receive mentorship and grow your career.
“When they’re not at the office or workplace, they miss out on all of the social networking that happens there,” Rodgers said.
These missed opportunities can have a significant impact on career growth. Vyopta’s 2022 survey found that 41% of executives would be less likely to consider a remote employee for promotion. The top explanations given include a belief that remote employees are less wired to a company’s culture and are “overly reliant on others” to collaborate effectively.
People in rock-star mode are solid as a rock. Think the Rock of Gibraltar, not Bruce Springsteen. They love their work. They have found their groove. They don’t want the next job if it will take them away from their craft.
People in superstar mode, on the other hand, need to be challenged and given new opportunities to grow constantly.
For managers, it’s important they don’t put people in boxes and leave them there. All of this is temporary — none of these states are permanent. So when you’re thinking about people’s growth trajectory don’t allow your perception to limit the future choice that they might make. Someone in rock-star mode today may be in superstar mode next year and vice versa.
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Rao believes that taking the time to evaluate what makes you content can be a useful tool in finding a flexible job that still allows growth. Questions to ask include: Where am I most content? Who was I around?
“Simple questions can help you figure out the locations, people and timing that works best for you, which can be really helpful in finding a job that matches your needs,” he said.
Rodgers also emphasized the important role that equal distribution of domestic responsibilities plays in career advancement for women. She encourages women living with a partner to discuss and develop as equal a distribution of home responsibilities as possible so that these responsibilities do not get in the way of career advancement.
Work-Life Balance: How Employers Can Help
When attempting to connect with and support Gen Z employees, Rao encourages managers to avoid falling into the trap of treating them as a “monolith.” It is easy to assume that generational patterns in thinking and feelings that are documented in studies apply to everyone. But research is conducted by examining trends in large numbers of people — what is true of some may not be true of all.
“Don’t assume that you know all about them; you’ve got to spend time really talking with them,” Rao said. “Then you’ll know how to arrange things in a way that aligns with their worldview.”
Caring personally — taking time to ask each individual what they are hoping to achieve out of their job and what they need to do so — is key. When you know who they are and what they’re looking for, you can best offer them support.
“In order to build a great team, you need to understand how each person’s job fits into their life goals,” Scott writes in Radical Candor. “You need to get to know each person who reports directly to you, to have real, human relationships — relationships that change as people change.”
Scott also recommends using your one-on-one meetings to talk to your manager about what you need.
During a one-on-one meeting, her manager at Google once quickly helped her solve a problem that was enormously important to her and had seemed insurmountable until they talked.
“I was managing teams in 10 different cities worldwide and wanted to travel to each of them. At the same time, I was 40 and trying to start a family. It’s pretty hard to get pregnant when you’re 5,000 miles away from your husband,” Scott explained.
“What should I do — could I get pregnant and travel around the world to meet with each team in person?”
She brought her dilemma to her boss who said, “Oh, that’s easy! You can’t. And you don’t have any time to waste. You need to make getting pregnant your top priority.”
Scott was immensely relieved. It had seemed impossible to travel and get pregnant at the same time, and she was glad to hear her boss validate what she’d been feeling. But she also felt crestfallen. “Did this mean I couldn’t do my job?” Scott wondered.
No, it didn’t. “Remember that global off-site meeting your team wanted but we had a hard time getting a budget for?” her boss asked.
“Let’s take another crack at getting the budget. That way you can fly everybody here. They want to come, and you don’t want to go. Seems like a win-win.”
Caring personally also means offering employees the accommodations they need. While remote work became normalized as a result of the pandemic, it has also helped to lift the correlation between flexible jobs and “women’s work.”
Rodgers’ research found that early in the pandemic, women in white-collar leadership positions experienced the greatest increase in telework of any demographic. Meanwhile, men who were working from home also started taking on domestic responsibilities, contributing to job satisfaction and productivity among women.
Flexible work has also become an important “unintentional accommodation” for people with mental health disabilities who may seek out this type of work, according to Rodgers. Research shows that flexible work decreases symptoms of mental health disorders and improves mental health, providing an alternative to the pressure and rigidity often posed by traditional work.
“Managers need to be open and aware of invisible disabilities when considering a person’s request to work from home,” Rodgers said. “As much as possible, these requests should be seen as reasonable accommodations.”
In addition, with a specific focus on the 73% of the workforce that are working parents and caregivers, a new organization called Keep Company partners with organizations to give their parents and caregivers the “tools to integrate the care of themselves, their families, and their work through group coaching.”
The Not-So-Lazy Takeaway
No doubt, the lazy girl job moniker is likely to be like most other online trends in that it will have its moment and then die. But the Gen Z pushback to hustle culture that drives the trend is here to stay. As a result, managers can only benefit from learning how to offer the support these women (and employees of other genders) are looking for.
Organizations that ignore the needs of their employees could find themselves with a lot of open positions. Harvard Business Review suggested, “benefits managers should focus on a ‘human deal’ that makes employees feel cared for financially, physically and emotionally.”
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Katie Bartlett is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying history and journalism. At Penn, Katie enjoys being a reporter and editor for the Daily Pennsylvanian and tutoring elementary school students in the West Philly public schools. In her free time, Katie can be found hiking or hanging out with her two cats.