'I told my boss, Mia Freedman, that I hate work. I stand by it.'

I have been putting my foot in it quite a lot on Mamamia Out Loud recently. I keep talking about work, specifically, I keep talking about not really enjoying it very much. 

I acknowledge that this is an inherently privileged thing to say as somebody who works in media and is not a frontline worker, nor somebody who has to engage in backbreaking labour to earn a paycheck but it is the truth. 

Work is not the most meaningful or enjoyable part of my life – and I think it would be inauthentic of me to suggest otherwise.

This conversation has brought me into direct conflict with Mia, who is a powerhouse and admits that work is very much her life and, in many ways, defines her identity. In fact, we ended up dedicating an entire Out Loud episode to this discussion because we thought it was only right that we both end up in the metaphorical Octagon and battle it out, UFC-style. 

Within that episode, I had to make the following qualifiers: I love my job, I am extremely passionate about my career as an author, presenter, and journalist, but when it comes to the actual parameters of work, that is, turning up every day at the same time, being managed, the hours of emotional and intellectual commitment that bleeds over into my life outside of work, I think it's surely normal to resent those factors.  

I think it can feel incredibly fulfilling to work hard, which I really believe I do, but I don't want to wholly define my personality nor my sense of personal success by my work, however much I may enjoy it. 

Also, when I really sit down and think about it, I actually abhor that in order to survive and thrive, we're forced to dedicate this enormous chunk of our time on earth to accruing money instead of, say, being with our loved ones, contributing directly to our communities, or sitting at the beach and reading a good book


Capitalism: bad, sitting at the beach: good, is the essential thrust of my argument.

Watch: Mia Freedman talks about work-life balance below. Article continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

It has become increasingly common for people of my generation, that is, millennials and Gen Zs, to question the burden of work and reassess its place in our lives.

Particularly since the COVID pandemic, a lot of young people have undertaken a broad questioning of what we give to work and what work gives to us. We have seen trends like 'quiet quitting', 'loud quitting' and 'bare minimum Mondays' all emerge as part of what is being referred to as The Great Resignation. 

I have also become partial to scrolling through posts on the subreddit r/antiwork – a collection of complaints and protests posted by people whose employers are acting in ways that are either casually exploitative or outright illegal. Again, none of this is a reflection on my time at Mamamia (I'm actually very happy here, thank you) but more a comment on the concept of work in and of itself.


On top of this, young workers are far more likely than their older counterparts to prioritise work arrangements that serve their lifestyle, including flexible work hours and remote working options, as well as mental health leave and other workplace initiatives that support an employee's wellbeing and support them as, you know, a whole human being, rather than a dispensable worker. 

There will be a lot of social and legal upheaval to support these concepts in years to come that, I believe, will ultimately benefit the working arrangements of future generations. And, while some of this may ring as annoying and entitled behaviour to older generations, ultimately I think it's healthy that we try to reimagine how work can work for us. 

I also think that within this conversation, we allow ourselves the scope to reassess all of the ways that we fail to seriously value work that people aren't necessarily paid for, including full-time parenting and caring roles. 

Is working from home over? The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss. Article continues after podcast. 

Also, it really shouldn't be surprising that young (ish) people are reckoning with questioning work as a concept and the blind dedication to it. It is becoming increasingly obvious that work really isn't working for us because, regardless of how hard we're grinding, the stability that former generations had access to is not nearly as accessible to us. 


The average Australian could buy a home in 1984 for a price 3.3 times their annual income – as of this year house prices have skyrocketed to 10 times what the average person earns in a year (a trend which shows little promise of reversing in any significant way). 

Income inequality has also surged, with 93 per cent of the economic growth we've seen since the Global Financial Crisis going to the top 10 per cent of income earners. 

And, to put the horrifying cherry on top of this s**t cake, this week, specifically, July 3rd, saw the hottest day ever recorded globally – a dark reminder of the chaos that climate change will reap on our futures. 

In the midst of all of this, I think it's not only reasonable but actually rather advisable that we reconsider the role of work and the way that it dominates the vast majority of the time we spend on this spinning, space rock. To take a step even further, I think it's also important to consider what we're doing with work and money, what we actually need and what we really don't. 

Work can be fun and fulfilling and meaningful – but so can a lot of other parts of life and, to be honest, I'd prefer to hold those bits closer.

Elfy Scott is an executive editor at Mamamia. 

Image: Mia, Elfy and Clare in the Mamamia Out Loud studio. Supplied. 

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