Business: Behind the masks of office life

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Screengrab from Monster ad

Screengrab from Monster ad

A series of humorous TV ads for a recruitment agency taps into a visual A-Z of office life

The image of office life has never quite been the same since TV series The Office, mixing pessimism with a celebration of the shared rituals and routines of work. And what’s more, the job market has radically changed over the last decade with more job-changing than ever. Recruitment agency Monster are pitching to all of those who made New Year’s resolutions with a spot featuring an unhappy employee who can’t quite mask his feelings about his job.

But most interesting for photographers is how the ad, a day in the life of an employee, is a A-Z storyboard of office spaces and scenarios: the lobby desk; the corridor; the water-cooler; the kitchen; the cubicles; the elevator; the cleaner after work; the boardroom; the canteen; the bathroom where a worker looks at his reflection looking to see if he recognises himself. And it’s painfully funny.

The second ad in the series, “Moose” has a look at the worker as the “cog in the wheel” of business, an idea and emotion that taps into a prevailing mood around business that Alon Shoval talks about in the Nadav Kander/Morgan Stanley ad.

It’s a smart visual gag. But photographers might also note the statistics that companies such as Monster are built around.  Jeanne Meister on Forbes.com reported on a recent set of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“Ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace Multiple Generations @ Work” survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers. That means they would have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!”

Part of the reason is that this generation (also known to marketers as “Generation Y”) puts a high priority on job satisfaction. While Baby Boomers put a premium on stability says Forbes, this generation accepts the trade-off – the anxiety of financial insecurity for job fulfilment.

There are many ways of shooting office life that capture its emotional dynamic, and this ad connects, talks to people, because it’s a truth everyone who works in an office recognises. Our changing attitude to jobs means it’s likely to be a buoyant market for photographers as clients and agencies look to capture a slice of a healthy business sector.

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