A Gen Z college graduate named Brielle Asero recently went viral after posting a TikTok video where she cried about her “crazy” 9-to-5 work schedule at her first job out of college. Asero was shocked — SHOCKED! — that her job and the commute take so much of her life.
She said that she has no time to cook or wash after she gets home, and working out is out of the question entirely. She’s too tired to do anything and is only functioning to live.
“Nothing to do with my job at all,” she said on her video, “but the 9-to-5 schedule in general is just crazy.”
Meanwhile, everyone over 30 is nodding and saying, “Yep. That’s how it works, kid.”
Asero got her job after five months of sending out “hundreds” of applications every day. But since the rent is too damn high in New York City, she had to move to New Jersey in order to be able to live.
Now she says it takes her “… forever” to get to work and back. She gets on the train at 7:30 a.m. and doesn’t get home until 6:15 or 6:30.
It’s not that she’s upset about her job. In fact, she likes her marketing job. She said, “I get off, and it’s pitch-black, and I don’t have any energy. How do you have time to meet a guy? How do you have time for dating? I don’t have time for anything, and I’m so stressed out.”
Part of me wants to tell her, “Suck it up, buttercup. This is how grownups live. It’s the thing you went to college and moved to New York for. More importantly, this was (or is) how our parents spent their days. Welcome to adulthood: no one said it would be easy.”
The 9-to-5 workday was invented by labor unions in the 1800s and was popularized in the 1920s by Henry Ford. So, there is literally no one alive who worked a 12-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week regular schedule anymore.
Unless you’re a farmer. Farmers work harder than just about anyone and would probably kill for a regular 40-hour-a-week job.
So, most of us have it pretty easy.
If I could, I would tell Asero she needs to decide whether she wants to stay in New York City or get a job in a cheaper city like Hickory, North Carolina. (No, I haven’t heard of it either.)
Nearly every American adult works an 8-hour-a-day job, and if they don’t, it’s usually because they work two or three jobs.
Except maybe Asero has a point. Why are we working 9-to-5 jobs after all? What’s so magical about being in the office five days a week? Why do we have to be there in the first place? What’s wrong with working from home? Or a 4-day work week where we work 10 hours a day?
When I worked for the Indiana state government, I was told we had to be in the office because we couldn’t be trusted to work from home. I’ve heard this from other employers, too.
And I’ve told them, “That sounds like you’ve got a management problem, then. You’ve hired people you don’t trust, which shows poor decision-making on your part. Either that or you have personal trust issues.” They don’t like to hear that so much.
For many workers, it’s possible to do our jobs remotely. There’s nothing magical or special about being in the office. We don’t need to be there, except that most executives who came of age during the in-office job now think that since they suffered, everyone must suffer, too.
What it really comes down to is that they’re paying thousands of dollars per month in office rent, and they can’t have those offices sit empty while they wait for the multi-year lease to run out. If we’re paying for office space, then by God, we will have people in it!
Many executives now demand that everyone who ever worked in an office must come back to it. No more remote work! No more working where we can’t keep you under surveillance! No more fun of any kind! Work must be endured, not enjoyed!
They want people to sit through their 30- to 90-minute commute, wasting an hour to three hours per day, all to do a job they could do on their laptop in a nearby coffee shop.
And I know, I know. Some people have jobs that have to be done on location: factories, baristas, cooks, delivery drivers and so on. Yes, not everyone has the luxury of having a job that lets them work remotely.
Do you expect everyone else to suffer, too? Just because you have to work at your job means a social media manager has to sit in a tiny cubicle to do hers? That the accountant needs his office pencils and office paper, or the numbers will disappear?
That’s why I became an entrepreneur with my own business. I work where I want and when I want. There’s no three-hour commute, and I can work my own hours.
It’s just that nobody told me there would be so many of them. Because right now, a regular 9-to-5 job sounds like a vacation.