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40-hour work week

In a follow-up to her viral video, Brielle explains how she feels about work: “That’s the whole 9-to-5 system: pushing the same rock up the hill.”

Brielle’s not wrong: the 40-hour work week was designed to be Sisyphean. It began in the Industrial Revolution to create schedules for assembly line workers, but in the late 1800s, 70 hours would have been common, says Benjamin Hunnicutt, a historian who studies the history of leisure and work, told NPR.

That was slowly whittled down until the 40-hour week became the norm during the Great Depression until it was enshrined in law in the 1940s. Economists and analysts expected the week would continue to shrink — John Maynard Keynes actually predicted that technological advances could see the workweek shrink to just 15 hours by 2030.

But that never happened. In fact, now, all workers are expected to fit into this assembly line mold — even if they’re working in marketing office jobs, like Brielle.

There has been a push for the four-day work week, which advocates like 4 Day Week Global argue increases worker efficiency. It hasn’t quite caught on in the U.S., but the recent “summer of strikes” has shown that workers of all ages do want to see drastic changes from their employers.

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Poor equity

In another follow-up video, Brielle explains that she wants to see a structural change to the 9-to-5 work schedule because it imposes inflexibility on workers that don’t always make it up the chain of command.

“It’s not fair that the only people that are benefiting [from 9-to-5] are the people that either run the corporations and can make their own schedules, so they just pile on the work to people that are less fortunate,” she says.

And while many would argue those workers are fairly compensated for their time, growing wages simply haven’t kept up with inflation. If you look at the minimum wage, you can see this is true: 1980’s minimum hourly wage was $3.10; today, it’s $7.25. This may sound like a big jump, but inflation means that a dollar in the 1980 is worth $3.68 in today’s purchasing power. If minimum wage accurately reflected inflation and cost of living, it would now be $11.40.

We’ve already seen trends responding to this, including Gen Z’s penchant for what they call “lazy girl jobs,” which require minimal effort while taking in a decent salary. When their paychecks aren’t covering both rent and groceries, it’s not hard to understand why employees are resisting the system.

More: Find your next job at ZipRecruiter

Work-life balance

Considering work and her commute take up nearly 11 hours of her day, Brielle has a point when she says she has limited time — and energy — for a social life after work. She adds that it’s even worse if you have kids or any other dependents.

But this lack of life is starting to see pushback from people like Brielle. A recent ResumeLab survey discovered that 73% of Gen Z will pick a job with a better work-life balance over a higher salary.

Brielle’s TikTok sums up the general feelings toward work culture right now. And it appears it’s not just Gen Z who feels this way, with many older workers agreeing with her in their comments. And perhaps these older workers would have said something earlier, but they didn’t have TikTok to share their message far and wide.


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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.


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