Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Everyone hates "Emma," a grotesque depiction of the physical effects of office work

Screenshot: Fellowes Brands (YouTube)

Poor Emma. She comes in on time every morning, always has a smile and a kind word for her coworkers, and makes a new pot of coffee whenever she takes the last cup. All the same, no matter how friendly or dedicated to her job she may be, the whole world hates her for what her weird body and sallow face, deformed and drawn out through years of dedicated office work, suggests about the effects a lifetime of office work can have on our physical health.

Created by the (probably slightly biased) workplace solutions company Fellowes, who conducted research with “a behavioral futurist and a panel of experts,” the pallid, twisted statue called Emma is described in Fellowes’ description as “a life-sized representation of how we could look in 20 years’ time if we continue working with poor posture and inadequately set-up workstations.”

A video showing Emma in her full splendor zooms in on her legs, swollen and lined with varicose veins caused by constricted blood flow, her bulging hunchback made from sitting and staring at a screen all day, the “stress-related eczema” that has turned her armpits red, and the corpse-like skin tone that comes from working indoors, breathing bad air, and soaking in halogen lights all the time. The entire thing is meant to be a warning to the people who design work environments—the sort of managers who, we’re absolutely sure, are altruistic enough that they’ll get right on fixing the problems addressed in the video.


A tweet that includes a sizzle reel of Emma just standing around looking creepy has not led to many positive responses. People, unsurprisingly, do not like looking at the horrifying avatar of body-damaging office life researchers say they’ll soon come to resemble.

Afraid of what they see of themselves when looking into her dead, bloodshot eyes, many have mocked poor Emma by making fun of her romantic prospects and resemblance to a cubicle-bound Nic Cage.


Still, looking on the bright side, others have pointed out that Emma’s dwindling free hours could be enriched by her striking up a relationship with “Graham,” that humanoid thing from a few years back designed to show the only type of body that could withstand the effects of a car crash.


Even as us plebes crack jokes about her, we should remember, too, that Emma must look to a lot of CEOs like an ideal outcome. Despite presumably suffering constant agony, Emma keeps a pleasant smile on her face that suggests a willingness to continue working right on through the pain. Truly, she’s the ideal modern human.

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com


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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.