Nicole Onyia, 24, goes live on TikTok for about five hours every day—all while juggling her full-time job as a data analyst.
You might wonder, like a 1960s infomercial narrator, “How does she do it all?” The answer: She’s doing both at the same time, livestreaming herself working from home to an audience ranging from hundreds to thousands of viewers.
She usually starts work at 9 a.m. and goes live an hour later. Onyia’s TikTok live videos, which she calls “work alone together,” have earned her 100,000-plus followers. She has an aesthetic desk setup with ambient music, and she stops working from time to time to answer questions in her comments section from viewers who work alongside her.
Onyia is body doubling, or parallel working—a new term for an old strategy: doing work in the presence of others. Traditionally done in the same room, the trend is now taking over TikTok live and Zoom as remote work leaves many people struggling to concentrate or looking for community.
To some, watching someone work on a laptop might seem as boring as watching paint dry. And others might find it unsettling, considering the workers are strangers. But with more people struggling with ADHD and a loneliness epidemic, body doubling is seen as a way to assuage both conditions.