I'm a Gen Z office worker and I love my 9-to-5 because it gives structure to my life. I've had a flexible job and it was frustrating and demoralizing.

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I'm a Gen Z office worker and I love my 9-to-5 because it gives structure to my life. I've had a flexible job and it was frustrating and demoralizing.
Louise Castonguay is a social media specialist at Flashfood.Courtesy of Louise Castonguay.
  • Louise Castonguay graduated in 2018 and started a flexible job with a small social media agency.
  • She said the lack of a consistent hours and work in her flexible role was demoralizing .
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This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Louise Castonguay, a 26-year-old who started a 9-to-5 job in Toronto in 2020. Her employment has been verified by Insider. The text has been edited for length and clarity.

I've worked as a social media specialist at a discount grocery app called Flashfood in a remote, 9-to-5 position since 2020. I used to have a more flexible job, but I quit because I wanted the security of a 9-to-5.

I graduated from the University of Toronto in 2018 and my first job was at a social media marketing agency in Toronto. I often felt more like a contractor than a secure employee because it was a startup with flexible hours.

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The agency focused on helping bars and restaurants get their social media profiles up and running, but it didn't have the most consistent client roster. Since I was newer and had less experience on the job, I was sort of on the swing.

When we had more clients, I'd work more hours, but otherwise I didn't really have a consistent paycheck. Things slowed down even more doing the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 because a lot of restaurants and bars closed down, so my days weren't as full.

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I just started to feel demoralized about all of the flexibility in my life and I wanted consistency so that I was waking up for something everyday.

I ended up leaving the agency to join Flashfood because I wanted the structure of a 9-to-5 and the benefits it offered. For example, I really wanted to start therapy for the first time and I couldn't afford to do it unless I was getting health benefits.

Getting a 9-to-5 job felt like a a rite of passage and a coming of age moment.

I feel like I have more time now

Having a stable job brought certain changes to my life. I started taking better care of myself because there were more people that I had to answer to in the morning. There's some accountability in it.

I wake up earlier and make an effort to exercise and make myself a nice breakfast, before I have to sit down and hunker in for the day.

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After work I can make a lot more plans with my friends now. In the summers, at 5 p.m., I'm shutting my computer and walking down the street to a nice patio and meeting a couple of girl friends for a drink.

I also have a weekly "Survivor" night at my house. My friends come over and watch the "Survivor" TV show on Wednesdays and I make them a big dinner. It's easier for me to schedule my personal life into my week rather than with a flexible job.

I feel like I have more time now than when I was working more flexible hours because I have a better sense of what my plan for the week is.

I definitely don't feel like my job is soul-crushing and I don't feel like the hours are soul-crushing.

If I was still working a flexible hours job, I would be ordering takeout way more often and spending much more money. That didn't feel great.

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Working remotely makes the schedule easier to manage but there are many perks I would enjoy about going to an office every day, including having a more stimulating social life and being able to leave your work at the office.

Older generations have criticized Gen Z's work ethic. I'm definitely working just as hard as my parents were, so I don't think a lack of hard work is the reason why I'm not going to buy a house in the next five years.

I don't really have an interest in owning a home, period. I'm much more interested in the idea of renting an apartment, being able to move, changing my lifestyle over and over, and travelling all over the world wherever my job takes me. That's a fun adventure to me.

I crave the structure of a career path

For the foreseeable future, a 9-to-5 job is where I'd like to be. At this age, I benefit a lot from the structure of a 9-to-5. It's making me better at what I do.

There's already a large amount of flexibility built into my job because I have a lot of autonomy about how I spend the eight hours at my desk. Any more flexibility would distract me.

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Some of the perks include managers that are providing consistent feedback on work that I'm doing. I know the skills required of me to be promoted to a new position.

Career paths are not as clear within flexible roles. It's more disjointed and I find that frustrating. I crave the structure of a career path.

I love stalking people's career paths, especially on LinkedIn, because I admire the people who are working on top of me.

My boss, our chief brand officer is a girl named Jordan Schenck — I just think she's the coolest. She has such a cool repertoire and a very cool résumé. I feel really excited about working in a job that could land me in Jordan's seat one day. It gives me something to base all of my efforts and aspirations on.

If I didn't have the structure of a career path like I do now, I would be lost and unsure of what my next step is supposed to be. I feel more secure now, knowing what I have to do to be who I want to be, rather than having flexibility and lack of structure.

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