On Making a Work Self: English Names in South Korea, Metaverse Avatars in Brazil : Rough Translation Who are you at work? In this episode, two stories of people who really commit to embodying their work selves. The result? New realms and new personalities.

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GREGORY WARNER, HOST:

You're listening to ROUGH TRANSLATION from NPR. Who of us has not fantasized about leaving work fully at work, having the freedom not to worry about that email or that boss when you're spending time with family or friends? There's this show on Apple TV+ called "Severance." You might have heard of it.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SEVERANCE")

BRITT LOWER: (As Helly Riggs) So I'll never leave here.

ADAM SCOTT: (As Mark Scout) You'll leave at 5.

WARNER: It takes that fantasy to a kind of terrifying extreme.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SEVERANCE")

SCOTT: (As Mark Scout) But it won't feel like it, not to this version of you anyway.

WARNER: The premise of the show is that a company called Lumon has found ways to let employees surgically separate their work memories from their outside-work memories.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SEVERANCE")

LOWER: (As Helly Riggs) Do I have a family?

SCOTT: (As Mark Scout) You'll never know.

WARNER: This is a voluntary procedure.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SEVERANCE")

SCOTT: (As Mark Scout) Well, every time you find yourself here, it's because you chose to come back.

WARNER: So their outie (ph), or their outside work self, has no idea what they do at work all day, and their innie (ph) has no clue how they spend their free time.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SEVERANCE")

LOWER: (As Helly Riggs) I have no choice.

WARNER: And this weird thing quickly happens where their innie and their outie split off into completely different personalities. It's something that a lot of you told us you recognize.

SEAN: I'm a completely different person at work. I keep to a very specific script of watercooler talk.

KATTIA: As a woman, I had to be very tough and very serious.

ALLINA: And so having to wear slacks and a button down and not be able to have any piercings and not be able to have tattoos and not be able to dye your hair does start to affect how you present yourself.

WARNER: We asked you about your work self. Is it you?

NOELLE: My work self is really similar to my out of work self.

ANNALIESE: My work self is less direct.

ALLINA: And because we spend so much time at work, I see it bleeding into my personal life.

WARNER: And you told us that bringing your true self to work, it can be an act of resistance...

ANNALIESE: It feels good to be good at your job. But it is just a job to me.

WARNER: ...Or exhaustion.

CHELSEA: I got tired of trying to separate and manage work Chelsea from home Chelsea from church Chelsea and karaoke Chelsea.

WARNER: This is ROUGH TRANSLATION. I'm Gregory Warner. Today on the show, two stories about that gap between your work self and your outside-work self, two stories where someone takes on an innie that they do not quite recognize, that feels almost like a stranger, but that shows them something about the person they did not think they could be. In one story, that work self is a new name; in another, a new body. You're at work with ROUGH TRANSLATION, back after this break.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WARNER: We are back now with ROUGH TRANSLATION. I'm Gregory Warner. What is in a name? It is an age-old question. If you're a star-crossed lover in a Shakespeare play, your family name is the thing that keeps you apart. In our next story, the name you're given at work, it keeps you apart from yourself. And here to explain all that...

SE EUN GONG, BYLINE: Yeah, it's brewing now.

WARNER: ...Se Eun Gong.

GONG: Hi, Gregory.

WARNER: So how are you feeling?

GONG: Nervous (laughter).

WARNER: If you've heard an NPR story out of South Korea for the past four years, Se Eun likely had a hand in it. She is a journalist in NPR's bureau in Seoul, though she's usually working behind the scenes instead of in front of the mic.

GONG: Yeah, I'll - (laughter) I'll try my best.

WARNER: So if we were speaking Korean right now and if we were in the same office and I just addressed you as Se Eun, which is what I call you...

GONG: Right.

WARNER: ...Would that be a problem? And who's - like, who would it be awkward for?

GONG: Well, in this context, you are senior in age and work experience. It's OK for someone higher up to address someone lower. So if you are calling me just Se Eun, that's perfectly fine. If we were Korean speakers and I would call you Gregory, that would be considered unusual.

WARNER: Unusual?

GONG: It just - it feels rude.

WARNER: South Korean businesses are respectful of these hierarchies of age and experience, but they can also create a climate of silence that squelch good ideas and free-flowing communication. A 2017 survey by the Korean Chamber of Commerce found that nearly 70% of Korean corporate workers don't actively voice their opinions at meetings.

GONG: Younger workers would feel like they cannot raise objections to bad ideas of their bosses for fear that they can be seen as presumptuous.

WARNER: And your name is part of that. How people greet you marks your relative age and rank.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GONG: English nicknames - it's a helpful trick.

WARNER: And so there is a growing trend in South Korea - it began with tech startups, but it spread to other industries - to change the names that people use at work.

GONG: Yeah, a lot of job postings will advertise the fact that they use English nicknames.

WARNER: Oh, so like, hey, we pay well, we offer good benefits, we use English nicknames?

GONG: Yeah.

WARNER: These are Korean-speaking workplaces where you go by a single English first name. And the idea is that instead of having to adjust what you call someone based on their rank or age, everyone in the company would be on a first-name basis.

GONG: I mean, I, for one, was initially skeptical how effective this would be. I suspected that it would be not much more than window dressing. So I met this person...

SHIN HYE JEE: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: Shin Hye Jee.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: She's a 27-year-old woman who works at a startup accelerator. So she learned about the company's English nickname policy during her onboarding process.

WARNER: So, yeah, so she shows up at her first day of work, and what happens?

GONG: She gets there, and then she went into a meeting where the head of the company attended.

WARNER: Wow, right away.

GONG: Yeah.

WARNER: She meets her new colleagues, a bunch of Daves and Carols and Sarahs and Susans. And the thing about using English nicknames is you don't attach someone's title. In her old job, Hye Jee used the standard Korean naming convention with titles attached.

GONG: So she was called...

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: Shin Hye Jee daeri neem - Shin Hye Jee, her full name, daeri, the title, and neem, the honorific.

WARNER: So it would be like every time Se Eun greeted me, she had to say, Mr. Podcast Host Warner. Every time a co-worker told Hye Jee hello...

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

WARNER: ...Or goodbye...

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

WARNER: The title followed her everywhere. So what is her title, actually?

GONG: Daeri, daeri. Why don't I first explain the conventional titles in a company? At the top there's (speaking Korean), chairperson. Below (speaking Korean), there's (speaking Korean), president, (speaking Korean), director, (speaking Korean), division chief, (speaking Korean), deputy division chief, (speaking Korean), section chief, daeri, deputy section chief, which is Hye Jee's title - old title - and then (speaking Korean), the lowest. It's just staff.

WARNER: Those titles disappear when people use English nicknames. Or at least they're supposed to.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PLEASURES AND SORROWS OF WORK")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As David) I am David.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Andrew) I'm Andrew.

WARNER: This is from a TV adaptation of a short story by Jang Ryujin. It's called "The Pleasures And Sorrows Of Work," and one storyline follows a fictional Korean tech startup with an English nickname policy that gets totally misused. People start attaching the titles and the honorifics to the English nicknames.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PLEASURES AND SORROWS OF WORK")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character, speaking Korean).

WARNER: And readers of the short story wrote in to say that, yes, they recognize this. Their company does the same thing. Despite the English nicknames, hierarchy reasserts itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PLEASURES AND SORROWS OF WORK")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Just like Silicon Valley.

WARNER: So Hye Jee...

GONG: She was a bit nervous about having to call the boss by just his first name.

WARNER: She was extra cautious that first day on the job.

GONG: She's the kind of person who, in that kind of setting, first watches how others do it. And she saw someone calling the head of the company by his English name. And then she realized, oh, like, this is really OK here to do that.

WARNER: It took a few weeks, but she finally got used to it, chatting with the boss on a first-name basis.

GONG: She felt like she was talking to him having shed the insignia. And this is a pretty commonplace expression in the Korean language, meaning that you're doing something free from the social hierarchy.

WARNER: But using these new names - it didn't just change how she communicated with her bosses. It changed how she saw herself.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: She said she's thinking to herself when she arrives at the office that...

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: ...From here on, I'm not Shin Hye Jee, but I'm Hannah.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: She said her English name, Hannah, gives her a work persona.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: And that person, the Hannah, she thinks, is a braver version of herself.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: She would voice grievances to the head of the company with ease. It's something that she couldn't imagine doing in her previous workplace.

WARNER: Where did this bravery come from? Was it just that the rules of behavior changed, or did this name allow something inside herself to be revealed? We called up one of the early adopters of this English name policy, JiHyun Won. He's the co-founder and COO of a video streaming company called Watcha.

ALEX JIHYUN WON: At Watcha, I am not COO. I am Alex.

GONG: Have you always had that name, Alex?

WON: No, actually, no. I picked Alex as my English name because I am a big fan of the English football club Manchester United and their legendary manager.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: The greatest British manager ever, Sir Alex Ferguson.

(CHEERING)

WON: Alex Ferguson.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WARNER: He tells us about two years after they put in this English name policy, it came to the test. There was this intern who got really angry about all the problems in their code.

WON: He was a software engineer. And he was mad.

WARNER: The intern confronted the COO, but he didn't call him COO; he called him Alex.

WON: He directly raised the problems in the company, and we listened to him, how we can fix them. So small changes can make big differences.

WARNER: As a Korean startup, they have to compete with global players, like Netflix and Disney+.

WON: A good idea deserves recognition, no matter what, and should not be overshadowed by hierarchy.

WARNER: But these shadows of hierarchy can fall both ways. Alex, the COO, he's younger than many of his employees.

GONG: And you may feel more comfortable talking to them as the boss, but as a younger boss, is that the case?

WON: Yeah. We started to not remember people's age here. But in Korea, that is a big change.

WARNER: Those older employees who he found it so awkward to talk to when he used their Korean names and titles, it actually changed how they saw him. They'd tell him.

WON: Oh, you were younger than me. I didn't know that for two years. That is a big thing here, yeah.

WARNER: They'll not only forget his age difference.

WON: So we are confused sometimes that - what is your original name? Like, something like that.

WARNER: (Laughter).

WON: Hey, Alex, what's your name? Yeah.

WARNER: Wait. Really?

WON: Yeah. We don't - actually, we don't remember other colleagues' Korean name. So it's kind of weird, but yeah.

WARNER: And this is a big reason, he says, why the English name policy is working for their company. It literally allows people to forget their old self, their more age- and rank-conscious self, at the office gates.

WON: And that is why even big, major companies are adopting English name policies and abandoning their traditional position-first, title-first way of culture. So it's already becoming a trend.

WARNER: That's interesting. So if a whole generation stops remembering people's ages - you're nodding. You're saying - does that sound like a good future to you?

WON: Yes. The next generations, millennials and Gen Z, desire for a horizontal culture at the office.

WARNER: But is it only at the office? Or might this relaxing of conventions inside the workplace lead to different behaviors outside as well? Alex hopes it will because, imagine, as English name policies become more and more common across Korean industries, will all those brave Hannahs and outspoken Andrews really stay meekly at the office? Or will they try, like the characters in "Severance," to send secret messages to their outie?

Does Alex and JiHyun, are they different for you? Are you a different person as Alex and different as JiHyun?

WON: Yeah, I think different. I think JiHyun is more personal. And Alex - if someone called me Alex, then I feel like, OK, I'm working.

WARNER: You can probably hear this in his voice, but as Alex is answering this, his shoulders slump, and he looks like a guy who's, well, imagining himself at work.

WON: So I feel very different.

WARNER: The freedom that he feels engaging with others as Alex is tempered with a kind of alienation. As Alex, he never feels like he's truly himself. Alex is a work identity, and therefore, Alex doesn't have parents. Alex doesn't have a childhood. But also, Alex doesn't have to negotiate his place in society as JiHyun might.

WON: Korean language conveys a sense of hierarchy in its grammatical structure itself. So calling me Alex, it automatically gets rid of such feeling.

WARNER: It's less formal, but it's less personal.

WON: Yeah. Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WARNER: And this impersonalness, this alienation of the work self, this is exactly what's allowed Hye Jee to explore this new side of herself. As Hannah, she finds herself reacting differently to how her colleagues treat her.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: If Hye Jee, her original identity, would look over something that's annoying her and just move on, when she's in the Hannah mode, she feels the anger building up in herself, and she would actually say what she needs to say to vent that anger.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

WARNER: Well, it's interesting just listening to you, and it's something so surprising. I'm trying to digest it. But I could maybe imagine that wearing a mask might allow me to behave differently. But the things that she would not notice, now she notices and make her angry. It's not just that she behaves differently, but she actually feels different.

GONG: Yeah. I mean, you know, one definition of brave, I think, can be being honest about yourself and to yourself. If the Hye Jee personality would require that she suppress that kind of feelings and act in a way that's more socially acceptable, switching to Hannah, yeah, she gets free from that kind of burden.

WARNER: That freedom, it ends with the end of the workday...

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

WARNER: ...Which is how Hye Jee wants it.

GONG: Outside of work, she just wants to be Hye Jee, and it's not even a conscious effort because she's called Hannah only at work.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

WARNER: There's this scene in "Severance" where there's a kind of somber discussion about what might happen to innies if their outies find a new job. You can feel the powerlessness of being a work self in that moment, imagining that some person who is you, but a you you've never met, might decide to just pull the plug on your life. And then everything you know, the feel of your desk chair, the smell of the break room, that really banal office joke that that guy keeps repeating, all of that stuff, basically your whole world, will just cease to exist. And the part of you that is the only you that you know will just be gone.

GONG: Even though she's experienced her Hannah self, if in future she goes to work at a different company that doesn't use English nicknames and has a strict hierarchy, she thinks she'll go back to the way she carried herself in her previous workplace.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

GONG: But then she'll think about Hannah for a long time, lamenting how she can't be that way anymore.

SHIN: (Speaking Korean).

WARNER: After the break, we suit up for a pixilated version of our work selves and enter the metaverse office, which can be a lonely place.

PABLO ARGUELLES, BYLINE: It feels like I'm walking in these ghost towns.

WARNER: But maybe it doesn't have to be.

THU OLIVEIRA: Cuica? You know cuica?

WARNER: When ROUGH TRANSLATION returns.

We're back with ROUGH TRANSLATION. I'm Gregory Warner. And this next story about work selves and ourselves at work, it takes us to Campinas near Sao Paulo, Brazil.

OLIVEIRA: Hi. Hello. Hi. Sound. One, two, three.

WARNER: Thu Oliveira - spelled T-H-U - knows that some of her old coworkers used to roll their eyes at her pranks.

OLIVEIRA: I don't know who I am without pranks.

WARNER: She's the kind of coworker who would sneak up behind you...

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese).

WARNER: ...Crawling on the floor like a cat...

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese).

WARNER: ...And then...

OLIVEIRA: Piff. Hi, Pablo.

WARNER: Thu spoke to our producer, Pablo Arguelles.

ARGUELLES: Thu says that sometimes in the office when she did these pranks - well, she uses this Portuguese expression, perder a mao.

OLIVEIRA: Perder a mao in Portuguese is like when you cross the line because too many jokes, too many pranks, and then you stop and you think, oh, man, I really crossed the line here.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ARGUELLES: I get what she means because I think I'm the kind of worker who would painfully smile at her and never tell her, Thu, I think I need a little bit of space here. But she says that she could read it on people's faces sometimes. And yet she still did these pranks...

OLIVEIRA: Of course.

ARGUELLES: ...Because to her they had a higher purpose.

OLIVEIRA: Imagine you were having a bad day.

ARGUELLES: And she's bringing joy to the office.

OLIVEIRA: I think the energy can improve that, can make you forget, even for a moment, if you're having a bad day.

ARGUELLES: So she would go around wishing everyone good morning.

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese).

ARGUELLES: Almost like a ritual.

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese).

ARGUELLES: And she would play music for you in the office.

OLIVEIRA: A cuica. You know cuica? That's a samba instrument, yes.

WARNER: But when the pandemic hit and Thu's company went remote, it was tough.

ARGUELLES: She lives alone. She just had a break up.

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese).

ARGUELLES: And she's working remotely, only seeing her dogs and cats.

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese).

WARNER: She could see people's status light and their calendar availability...

OLIVEIRA: Open a link. Close a link. Open a link. Close a link.

WARNER: ...But not actually have any shared experiences, not randomly bump into anyone or join them for a stroll.

ARGUELLES: And when she try to do pranks on Zoom, obviously, they were followed by very uncomfortable silences.

OLIVEIRA: Yes, yes, uncomfortable silence. It's so sad. It's so sad.

WARNER: And the worrying part was that some of her co-workers seemed to prefer it this way. According to the 2022 State of Remote Work report by the social media management company Buffer, which surveyed more than 2,000 people from 16 countries, 97% of us - so basically everyone - would recommend remote work to others, but 52% said they felt less connected to their coworkers. Twenty-four percent felt more lonely. And Thu wondered, did her co-workers realize what they were missing? A chance to just have random memories of things happening at the office.

OLIVEIRA: I don't know if they are work memories, but life memories even at work.

ARGUELLES: What was the lowest point for you?

OLIVEIRA: The lowest point - when I turned my computer off, and I was still at home. But when you - poof - power off, back to your reality, I think, oh, man, I'm still at home.

WARNER: Thu felt herself losing focus. She spun out, and she left her job. She got hired as head of marketing at a design firm called Weme. And Weme said it was trying an experiment, a way they hoped would combine the convenience of remote work with the community of a real office. Everyone would log on from home and choose an avatar, and then the avatars would meet in a virtual platform called Gather.

OLIVEIRA: How does it work? It's a metaverse? It's not a metaverse. It's a game? It seems like a game.

ARGUELLES: The places look like an old video game, like Zelda or Pokemon. And they're very pixelated and two-dimensional.

WARNER: Before we met Thu, we asked Pablo to check out these virtual co-working spaces around the world that use this Gather platform. And these were mostly public co-working spaces, as opposed to private offices. So anyone could enter. And because it's virtual, these places are all really different. Like, you can go to work in a super boring cubicle with a bunch of fluorescent lights, or you can file your papers in a pirate ship or a medieval castle.

ARGUELLES: And then there's like a big forest, a very "Lord Of The Rings" kind of co-working place. So just imagine my tiny avatar there with my pixelated curly hair, big eyes, my set of headphones entering these spaces. And I went to one in Indonesia, one in South Korea, a couple of them in Brazil, one in Chile and one in the Czech Republic and a couple of American ones. And I just found them on the internet and dropped right in and started wandering around. But they were empty.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ARGUELLES: I remember that in one of these places, it was like a big city next to the ocean. The only sound that you could hear was the sound of the waves and of the seagulls.

WARNER: Oh, my - it's so dystopic. It's so crazy. The background noise, the seagulls - (imitating seagull).

ARGUELLES: (Laughter) Yeah. So imagine visiting all of these places - empty, like, really sad places, not a soul. So very frightening also. And I even found a place with a guest book, and I could see the comments that were left there. And one said this place was built by 20 people, but now it's a ghost town.

WARNER: It seemed like the fate of so many digital gatherings - from watercooler channels on Slack to happy hours convened on Zoom. So many pandemic efforts intended to counter loneliness make us more lonely because so few people show up. Thu wondered if her virtual office would be the same.

OLIVEIRA: OK, follow me.

ARGUELLES: So the first time that I met Thu, it was actually in a Google Meet meeting, and it was there that she told me, OK, let's go to our Gather office.

Sorry, it took me some time. I was choosing my avatar.

She has a very tiny avatar, dark short hair and big glasses.

OLIVEIRA: It's me. It's my virtual me.

WARNER: Full disclosure - we learned about Thu's company, Weme, from the PR department at Gather, the hosting platform. We asked them for an example of a company that had successfully transitioned to a virtual office. And so it was interesting, the look of the Weme office - there are no pirate ships, no castles. It is neither vast nor high-concept nor vacant.

ARGUELLES: So, Thu, where are we?

OLIVEIRA: We are at my virtual coffee place.

ARGUELLES: Thu built this cafe inside the Weme metaverse office. And this is, like, a group hangout spot where anyone can come.

OLIVEIRA: Yes. You can get to know me a little more by looking at the details. We have a pride flag. There is a psychoanalysis couch over there.

WARNER: And in this interview, you can hear she immediately starts messing with Pablo.

OLIVEIRA: Yeah, if you press letter Z, you can dance. It's a nice thing to know.

ARGUELLES: So right there in the middle of the office, her avatar starts twirling and shaking.

WARNER: Pablo, did you push Z?

ARGUELLES: No. My fingers froze.

WARNER: And the meeting continues in this awkward vein - somewhere between a business meeting and a video game.

ARGUELLES: Thu told me that the first two weeks using this metaverse office, it was chaos.

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese) Because so many distractions, so many distractions - we can dance, play the piano.

Liv (ph), we are here. Look, there is a whale.

WARNER: But after a while, Thu surprised herself with how she was behaving in this new space.

ARGUELLES: For example, at one moment we were at her desk on the other side of the office, and I asked her, Thu, can we go back to the cafe?

OLIVEIRA: I think Lara is using the coffee.

ARGUELLES: And she tells me, actually, no, we can't go to my cafe because Lara, my colleague, is working there, and she's busy. We cannot just go in there and disturb her.

OLIVEIRA: We can go to the beach. What do you think?

ARGUELLES: (Laughter) We can go to the beach. I don't mind.

OLIVEIRA: OK, let's go. Follow me.

WARNER: As Pablo and Thu are heading to the beach, past pixelated tiki torches and coconuts and towels and umbrellas, Thu explains her virtual work self has given her an upgrade.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

OLIVEIRA: (Speaking Portuguese).

WARNER: Now she can take one look at someone's avatar, see their status light and know if they're prank ready.

OLIVEIRA: Yes. (Speaking Portuguese) Available or not.

ARGUELLES: And she was saying like, hey, in the physical office, it's not that everybody has, like, a red sign or a green sign that says, I will laugh when you perform a prank on me or I will be angry. So...

WARNER: (Laughter) That's so true. We don't walk around with red signs and green signs. We really should, I think.

ARGUELLES: Yeah. So the simple change, it really has shifted Thu's work. And she told me she sees herself now as a much different worker in the metaverse compared to the physical office. Her pranks and jokes are still there.

OLIVEIRA: Boo (laughter).

ARGUELLES: But she's just much more aware of how and when they can work.

WARNER: It's almost like her co-workers can decide how much Thu do they want in their workday, and that's changed how she works as well.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WARNER: When we talk about our future in the virtual office, which is definitely an uncertain future, there are a lot of metaverse skeptics out there. The promise of the virtual office is usually pitched like this - it is going to be both convenient and communal. You're going to be able to hang out with others without having to deal with traffic. But for Thu, who is, she admits, one of the most sociable co-workers you'll ever meet, the additional benefit of the metaverse is not just about being closer to people. It's about being aware of them in a way that allows you to give them distance. They're more than just their status light.

OLIVEIRA: Jeff is here.

ARGUELLES: And she points to an avatar in the garden.

OLIVEIRA: He's there at the garden. And I don't know where the hell Jeff is in the real world. I don't know. But I know Jeff is there, sitting in that garden, still working.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WARNER: When Pablo and Thu arrive at the beach, they climb onto a simple wooden canoe.

OLIVEIRA: Yes, I put the boat here.

ARGUELLES: Do you come here often?

OLIVEIRA: Yes. When I need to concentrate and make some harder tasks, I come here in my boat.

ARGUELLES: And when I was there with Thu on the boat, I have to admit that I felt like I had found something I didn't even know I had lost as a worker.

OLIVEIRA: It's not a work story with good numbers and good results but memories about your life.

ARGUELLES: For example, now, like, we are in a boat in the beach...

OLIVEIRA: (Laughter) Yes, yes.

ARGUELLES: ...Doing an interview in a boat.

OLIVEIRA: Yes, that kind of memory.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIC M NEVES' "METAVERSE OASIS")

WARNER: Next week on @Work, what does it take to succeed in your home country?

CHIBUNDU ONUZO: We've had a couple of conversations where you've basically called me a slacker.

CHINAZA: So...

ONUZO: You have.

WARNER: The writer Chibundu Onuzo decides to figure out once and for all if she can succeed in Lagos with some advice from her big brother.

ONUZO: Was there any incident that made you think, gosh, I wish I hadn't moved back to Nigeria?

CHINAZA: No. Well, I mean, OK, I take that back.

WARNER: That's next week on @Work from ROUGH TRANSLATION.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIC M NEVES' "METAVERSE OASIS")

WARNER: Many, many work selves contributed to put together today's show. Reporting from South Korea was from Se Eun Gong, produced by Justine Yan. Pablo Arguelles reported and produced from the metaverse. Adelina Lancianese is our lead producer. Our editor is Luis Trelles. Nic M Neves helped with production and translation and composed the music that you are hearing now. The ROUGH TRANSLATION team includes Tessa Paoli and Bhaskar Choudhary. Emily Bogle is our visuals editor. Our supervising producer is Liana Simstrom. Our supervising senior producer is Bruce Auster. Special thanks to Robert Krulwich and Sana Krasikov. Thanks to International desk editor Didi Schanche and our bureau chief in Seoul, Anthony Kuhn. NPR's standards editor is Tony Cavin. John Ellis composed our theme music - additional music by FirstCom Music and Blue Dot Sessions, mastering by Josh Newell, fact-checking by Sarah Knight, legal guidance from Micah Ratner and Eduardo Miceli. Our senior vice president for programming is Anya Grundmann. I'm Gregory Warner. Back next week with more @Work...

(SOUNDBITE OF NIC M NEVES' "METAVERSE OASIS")

WARNER: ...From ROUGH TRANSLATION.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIC M NEVES' "METAVERSE OASIS")

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