Unfiltered Thoughts: Work Revolution

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the very concept of work is undergoing a transformation.

Work has various definitions and avenues – especially for those of us who fall into the age bracket of Millennials and Gen Z.

We’re setting a new pace and redefining work-life balance. We’re putting our values not only first, but proudly and loudly advocating for the things that matter most to us – and influencing the companies we work for to do the same. We are adamantly seeking purpose and fulfilment in the 9 to 5 – that may no longer be 9 to 5. We are hustling left, right and centre to give us flexibility and freedom of choice as we revolutionise the workforce.

To better grasp this change and to spur on the revolution, we want to hear directly from you!

Tell us what type of professional life are you seeking? How has education and work experiences shaped who you are? How are you navigating the shifting landscape of work? And what do you want to see happen next?

Content Warning

The following unfiltered thoughts may contain themes that might be difficult to read or triggering to some readers. Readers in need can visit our Creating a Safe Space page to see a full list of support services.

 

A reflection on purpose

I think we all spend a large portion of our lives chasing a sense of purpose. Searching for validation that what we are doing means something, and that as a consequence, we mean something. Most of us will spend majority of our time working. This is why we are taught to pick a career that offers fulfilment. A career that will make a difference, whether it be curing cancer, or educating the next generation. I have recently come to realise that my career doesn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things. Sure, I’m motivated by wanting to be successful and help save the world. But I’ve come to learn that what is most important in life is our connections. Our impact is most greatly measured by the way we make other people feel. Purpose shouldn’t be to make the most money, it should be to make the most people laugh. I think our currency is broken. Dollar bills should be hearts touched. Instead of investing in stocks we should be investing in smiles. In a world where success is measured by a number in a bank account, what value does love have? Love is priceless, it is immeasurable, and if you cannot measure success than suddenly it loses meaning in this world of fickle things.

Anonymous 19 NSW

 

My Mothers Struggle

My mother, a woman of immense dedication and passion for her work, struggled. Yes, that’s right, she struggled. Surprising? Not really. She worked in the professional sporting industry, not as a player, but as management. And as time passed and her job morphed into admin clean-up crew, she found herself stuck in a dilemma facing a repetitive, unfulfilling career. She needed to find somewhere that valued her and her skills. What then arose after many months of job searching and networking was an opportunity, one that many women in a similar dilemma do not find quickly, often too late. It was like a rope thrown from above into the hole that had been dug for her. She was lifted by a small group of people in the industry who understood her struggle. They too were women, but women who’d fought the current pushing them backwards, surfacing above the hardships. And these women helped my mother, being shields for her cause. It was with this opportunity that my mother reached her potential. And it was through her struggle that the stark disparity between opportunities for men and for women comes further into the light.

Joshua (he/him), 19 NSW

 

Update the 9-5 Work Day

I am on the job hunt at the moment in marketing, and coming from 2 years working 9-5, in office, every day, it can be exhausting. Commuting is a killer for our generation where we have to live further away from cities to afford rent. The hiring managers or managers don’t understand the struggle of trying to do it all to have that work life balance, and get to work on time every day. I’d like to see more workplaces get on board with hybrid work and rostered days where everyone is in the office, so socialising can still happen. I’d also like to see work places be more understanding of their juniors, and encourage them to do better instead of shaming them or making them feel lesser than if they’re still learning. Just because they were shamed or belittled as a junior doesn’t mean they have to continue that behaviour for the next generation. Professional work has made me a busier person. But it has also made me scared to go back to casual or non permanent work.

It’s definitely hard to negotiate with people in the industry who have an older mindset of the strict 9-5, but I’d like to see start and finish times become more flexible. Having times in the work day that you have to be there/online for, but start and finish times to be less fixed would put less pressure on people, especially those who are neurodivergent!

Sophie (she/her), 25 VIC

 

Adios 9 to 5 boogie monster

Finishing your degree does not mean you are smart and deserve a 6 figure job. How about the rest of the people who work as cleaners, receptionists and uber drivers?
Degrees are great. But not everyone is destined for the mainstream degrees in order to ‘work.’
Based on Barbara Sher’s book ‘Refuse to Choose’, there are people like me who don’t choose a career. The universe creates those opportunities to help us overcome one’s toughest personal and spiritual demons while at work.
Work can be good –
Or else your life feels meaningless.
People say eat in moderation –
Or else we enter the vices of indulgence and greed.
Or even, the infamous new sin: Ego.
Main takeaway – be careful about degree names and work titles i.e LABELS.
Once that gets to your head and heart, it’s like the boogie monster from the 18th century industrial factory is resurrecting itself to create another character that is not your true self.
My CV for 2024 looks like: 3 year gap year…lockdown… post-lockdown … tried two 9 to 5 jobs and…
I’m unemployed for the 9th time but this time it’s different.
I’ll be rewriting my 9 to 5 contract as of today.
#adiosboogiemonster

Julianne (she/her), 29 VIC

 

Redefining Success in Work and Life

Growing up middle-class, success was defined by grades, study pathways and jobs. I remember in year 11 and 12, my peers were segregated into TAFE or uni pathways. School always painted a beautiful picture of the world of work but in reality workplaces promised things like purpose, diversity and inclusion just to lure you into their money-making machine.

I tried different jobs every year in search of the perfect fit with not much luck. The chase for better work, promotions and money by the time I’m 25 or 30 deepened my insecurities. Colleagues were competitors rather than collaborators. At my last job, someone younger than me was managing me. Good for them but my competitive upbringing made me feel dumb and inadequate, when I am clearly not.

Watching other people sharing their study and work stories online opened my eyes to life beyond the corporate grind. I have been exploring other avenues that uses my strengths and allows me to pursue my own passions (like freelancing, starting a business and more). Heck, I am still trying to understand what my passions are. I just want a job that puts work-life balance first, with enough money to put food on the table and pursue my interests. Doing some good for the world and making genuine connections would be cool too.

Looking forward, I am focusing on myself and ignoring societal goals and expectations. I want to continue to do things I enjoy, no matter how good or bad I am.

Li (she/her), 23 QLD

 

Evolving faster than the world can, that is how we survive.

I plan in five year phases
No use feeling secure in a seatbelt that unclips itself with each update
False rips that are supposed to suck my dreams of being important right out
To a dead seabed where bleached arms reach out,
frozen, dimpled and clammy
Generations before who couldn’t code,
Analog angels
That shake their heads at my obscure future-
Bow their heads at the loss of another with such potential

Because I plan in five year phases.
I will be a writer
For now
Wrap my tongue over cold texts and breathe moist breath into their pages
I will probably study post grad,
Because that’s the new threshold for clever
And so they might pay me better
Whoever that is
To do what ever I’ll do.
I might move to Tasmania and publish a book.
Might spend some time in Education, watching how children form the soft ‘I’ sounds
In the word ‘Identity’.
Beyond that I can’t tell you,
The colour of the sky will have changed by then
And I will watch the tides to see
What my next five years will be.

Ella (she/her), 21 QLD

 

The Bane of Being a Young Adult

“What do you want to do when you’re older? What are you going to study in university? Are you taking a gap year or studying straight away?”

I don’t know. I don’t know! I DON’T KNOW!

I haven’t got it all figured out yet. I don’t know what I want to study. I don’t know who I am. But, why do I feel like I need to give some thought-out, acceptable answer to them? Why do I feel like the weight of the world is on my chest, threatening to roll off with the words on my tongue? There are so many avenues, so many niches, so many things to consider. How the hell would I know what my future will look like? But still, I’ll give you an answer. It’s none of your business.

Anonymous (she/her), 17 VIC

 

The Era of Information Technology

To understand the work revolution, we should know how work starts, and it always comes to whether there is a problem that needs to be solved or an opportunity that can make the world better. This work can stem from social inequalities, technological advancements, political agendas, cultural traditions, personal values, environmental changes, etc. This has been the case for many years. But what is causing the work revolution now, is in this age of information technology, the problems and opportunities are becoming more transparent, clear, and interpreted in different mediums and this generation has more tools than ever to be able to act on them. In the last few years, there have been more startup organisations, innovations, and global outreaches than ever before through the ability to collaborate with multiple groups to support progression and competition with multiple individuals to see how their performance stacks up. The rapid innovation of information technology has allowed the sharing of breakthroughs, achievements, and resources and therefore the foundational capabilities of this generation are stronger than any preceding generation. All this helps show that solving these problems or ideating for opportunities is possible because as a community we are all working towards them, which helps build morale and cultivates the work revolution to solve and create.

Aamir (he/him), 29 NSW 

 

The Box

I’ve always been a creative person. Even though I’m smart and have always been considered a nerd or bookworm, I’ve never really found fulfilment from the traditional jobs like medicine or engineering when thinking about a career path. But growing up, that’s what my parents have always quite literally forced me to consider. I’ve always hated that but, can I really blame them. Even though the world is rapidly changing our views on work are still so rigid. Without a 9-5 white collar job, you can’t be successful. Jobs like writing and music or content creation or digital marketing are frowned upon. They are not real jobs. Remote jobs don’t count because you don’t sit in an office all day. It should not be so. What I want is a world where everyone regardless of their career aspiration is regarded as deserving of success. We need to stop placing ourselves inside of a box. I am different from the next person in terms of career aspirations and I need to not just accept but respect that that and vice versa.

Anonymous, 16 VIC

 

Autism and Working

I don’t have enough energy to work a 9-5 full time. Maybe it’s because I’m autistic. If it is, it’s not like I’m eligible for the government’s Disability Support Pension anyway. Well, I am, but do I want to apply for such a dehumanising process? Whilst I am glad that companies are beginning to recognise that for autistic people, working full time isn’t always an option – but then what is the alternative? Do we starve?

The balance between work and life is hard for anyone – but what if you have less energy? What if you can only get so many things done in one day? We need flexible working options and hours in order to accommodate for those with disabilities.

Anonymous, 17 WA

 

My relationship with capitalism is like my relationship with my ex

I was told to study, so I did. Poured tears over paper, in search for paper.

Yet I sit here as a graduate, no more further in life than I was as a high schooler, as a middle schooler. I bore of traditional roles, of capitalistic society but if I am to be a cog in the machine, I shall be the best cog.

I just want money man.

Zoya (she/her), 23 QLD

 

Polywork

I’d love a four-day work week. I’m hoping companies in Victoria start implementing that soon. I don’t want to have to hustle, or work multiple jobs – I saw the word ‘polywork’ somewhere, and someone described that as a ‘dystopian capitalist doublespeak term’, and I agree with that. Polywork means working multiple jobs btw.

Michael (he/him), 18 VIC

 

Clearing the Normalised Haze From Work

Our exhaustion is like a layer of smoke; it’s hard to breathe, but it looks like everyone carries it in their lungs with ease. They feel it too though, and it’s darkest at the bottom of the single mother’s purse at the checkout, or at the end of the glass after post-work drinks. We all hope for it to clear, but we know we can’t hope for too long, because there’s work in the morning. So we go to sleep in the smoke and dream of fresh air. We all dream of change, a system built to live in more than we work in. Isn’t it time to clear the smoke?

Anonymous, 20 SA

 

Chasing Purpose

Totally vibing with the idea of people chasing their purpose and fulfilment in their grind. The old-school 9 to 5 hustle might not be our jam anymore, and that’s cool. In this fast-paced world, where tech and global connections are flipping the script on work vibes, it’s all about embracing flexibility and doing our own thing. Chasing purpose isn’t just about the paycheck; it’s about bringing creativity, making things happen, and feeling that job satisfaction. We’re all about breaking free from the norm, being real, and growing on our own terms.

Personally, my own jobs really play a part in shaping who I am and I think long and hard before I move from one to the next – the team, what I’m doing and if it sits right with me, the organisations values and the culture all contribute to that, it’s not just about the money. If I’m gonna spend the majority of my week working for someone or something, I better love it and really feel passionate about it. If I don’t anymore, it’s time to move on.

Crystal (she/her), 26 NSW

 

Stop Normalising the Grindset

The desire for a work revolution amongst todays younger generation is not a coincidence, but instead a direct result of corporatism and encouragement of toxic work-life balances within youth spaces.

It’s common to hear young people talk about the financial “grindset”; the concept of overworking with the intention of a greater paycheck. Mindsets like this (which are particularly perpetuated online) act as contemporary worker exploitation, as individuals are conditioned to accept poor work conditions in aim of ‘earning’ their income. Young people are particularly vulnerable to this perspective, as they are often forced into labour (fast-food, retail, warehouses, etc.) as a result of lack of work experience, oftentimes meaning that their wage and capital is substantially robbed by employers and business owners in higher positions. The “grindset” present in some of todays youth benefits no one but the very same capitalists which raise the cost-of-living; creating a greater incentive to overwork as individuals find their expendable income shrinking.

The newly emerging desire for a work reform is – I believe – a counterculture to the financial “grindset”. I (among many others) am exhausted from working physically and mentally demanding jobs for minimal pay and satisfaction, and now desire for greater quality, less demanding positions.

Heidi (she/her), 18 VIC

 

Navigating the IT sphere

In the realm of Information Technology, the evolving professional landscape has a great impact on challenges and opportunities that arise for those in the Generation Z bracket. I am currently working towards getting my Bachelors in Cyber Security and aspire to secure a role that fosters continuous learning, as the field is constantly growing with new threats and technologies. While the concept of work undergoes a transformation, I believe it is vital to be proactive and show commitment towards education and adaptability. However, with this comes the emphasis on individuals finding the middle ground, in terms of maintaining a sustainable work-life balance. I think having a mindset that values not only professional growth but also personal wellbeing can help shape our current workforce and empower future generations to contribute meaningfully to the evolving IT field.

Anonymous, 19 NSW 

 

Working to live

“Work” comes with a different definition depending on who you speak to and continues to change daily. What some see as work, others don’t, and vice versa. I think given the current economy and peak of inflation, people define “work” as literal hell. I mean working day in and day out to pay your mortgage, and having little leftover, what kind of life is that? And then there are still mountains of bills that need to be paid. I take my hat off to the companies that understand the difficulties we are faced with, and the ones that do everything they can to support the rapidly changing world around us. Offering part-time, above-award wages, discounts on car insurance, home and contents, and childcare! While other organisations are still playing catch up. I would like to see understanding in the workplace, in all workplaces, and compassion for those who are just trying to survive in this current economy. Obviously, there is no correct answer for what that looks like, as everyone is different, but a simple “How can I support you?” is sometimes all it takes.

Rebecca (she/her), 24 ACT 

 

My learnings as an IT trailblazer

Technology is growing at a rapid pace and it is important for professionals to upskill at this day and age. I started my career as a business analyst and one of the key pieces of advice I’d like to share is to invest in yourself and skill sets. Always say yes to opportunities and take risks! Your career path is never linear, and there will always be peaks and troughs along the way. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead a small scrum team in my current project.

Over the past 8 months, I have taken on an additional role as a Scrum Master and have gained valuable skills. I’m proud to say that I have also invested in my growth my undertaking a certified scrum master qualification to level up in my role. My two cents here is to never wait for anyone to give you the approval to take a course- just start now. You never know where this will lead to!

Kayshini (she/her), 26 NSW

 

Dreaming of labour 

I do not dream of labour and yet I have a dream job. Of course, when I think of it, all it is is the parts I’ve been doing all my life, just with money involved. With my head, I know it will not be as I imagine. I know it will, most likely, be filled with all the worst parts of the things I love. But one has to hope.

I try to pretend I haven’t been working since the minute I could. That I don’t have lists upon lists of budgets and references. Now, at eighteen, I babysit kids who are older than I was when I started babysitting. The world is very different for them.

Anonymous, 18 NSW 

 

A work devolution

I’m 29, and I’ve had at least that many jobs. How is that possible? Can’t seem to keep them, or I’ve got multiple casual jobs on the go at once. I’ve been a governess on an outback station, I’ve hunted yellow crazy ants, I’ve taught yoga to babies at day-care centres, I’ve pushed buttons at Disneyworld Florida. I’ve been a barista, waitress, dishwasher, hotel receptionist, dinner theatre actress, performance intern, usher, drama teacher, live captioner, and most recently a distance education teacher.

I’m coming to the end of a 12-month contract that I thought would be renewed. A place I thought I could rock up to every day for years, get my predictable pay packet and leave. You know, the kind of stable jobs that grown up people have? I thought it was my turn. But it looks like we’re overstaffed and they don’t need me.

I don’t think we need a work revolution; I think we need a work devolution. My parents told me about their first jobs –working at a bank in regional Australia in the 1980s. They shut up shop at 3:00pm, had a half day on Friday, and a day off every year for the races. They socialised with their co-workers, the bank helped set them up with housing, they were offered discounted shares in the company. When my mum had her first baby, they arranged for her to ‘job share’ with another new mum. That’s what I want –stable employment, work life balance, a bit of support. Maybe one day I’ll find it, maybe I won’t.

I’m not a conservative –I don’t want to go back to a simpler, better time. Things were never better, or simpler. But I would like to bring back treating workers like people, instead of machines. I would like to bring back reasonable hours and decent pay. And I really REALLY just want to find a job I can keep long term.

Kirsten (she/her), 30 QLD