I’m a Gen Z Worker and the 9 to 5 Schedule Shocked Me

  • Piper Hansen graduated this spring and has been working full time for less than a year.
  • She says it’s really depressing to work a 9-to-5 schedule.
  • Piper also says Gen Z workers can see there’s a possibility for a better way of living.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Piper Hansen, a 23-year-old who just started her first full-time job in Louisville, Kentucky. Her employment has been verified by Insider. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I work in a YMCA office and I find my job really rewarding, but it’s difficult to not feel like it takes up most of my life. I’ve only been working full time for a few months since graduating from college in the spring and I’m already so downtrodden by it all.

How can I make sure I’m eating well and seeing my friends and taking time for my hobbies? How am I supposed to fit my whole life into a 9-to-5 work schedule?

I usually wake up around 7 a.m. and I’m at work from about 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. By the time I get home after my full-time job, I barely have time to walk the dog and make dinner before it’s dark outside. Then I have to make sure the coffee pot is ready for the next morning and I have something to take for lunch the next day. I’m home for just a few hours before I get ready to go to bed by 11:00 p.m.

Does life have to be like this?

Lately there’s been a discussion prompted by a viral video in which a Gen-Z worker cries about not having any time left to live her life, with the demands of a 40-hour work week. Some people were sympathetic, saying they felt the same way and are still enraged by the system after decades working within it. But other commenters weren’t so kind.

Some commenters said Gen Z is soft and needs to buck up and get used to it because this is the way it is. As a Gen Z person who’s going through the same transition into the workforce as the person in that viral video, I just want to say: we know this is how it is. But does it have to be this way?

It’s really depressing to live like this

I try to plan time to do things with my friend, who lives nearby, but one of us is always exhausted by our workday or has to wake up early the next morning.

It feels like there’s only time to work and go home to rest before work starts again — it’s wild. That’s not how humans are supposed to live. And that’s what I love about Gen Z: we see the reality of the way the world is, but we also see that there’s a possibility for something better.

Maybe if enough of us realize that, we can change things. Better is possible.

I wish there were more work-schedule options

It’s not even that I don’t like my job because I do. But it feels like it takes up most of my life. The other day, there was an issue at work and a coworker turned to me and said “are you ready for the next 45 years of your life?” and my stomach sank. I’m not ready.

I wish there were more options for schedules that are conducive to actually having a life outside of work. I don’t want my next 45 years to be the same as these last few months of going to work, coming home to eat dinner, rest, and then going back to work. I want to live my life too.

I don’t know if a full-time, in-person job will be my future for the rest of my career. I want to be able to have a more flexible life, where I can maybe go into the office for a morning meeting, then have lunch at home, and some time to run errands in the afternoon. I want to be able to work remotely more.

I see other people having more flexible situations that allow them to be able to travel or enjoy other things outside of work and I want that too. But in the meantime I’m trying to fill that void with seeing my friends and developing hobbies — in the little free time I have.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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