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Through the eyes of Gen Z: A glimpse of the Post-Pandemic Workplace

Posted by Flux on 

24 January 2022

High school. University. Work. This was the common trajectory of many people my age, and it was subconsciously what I had started to strive for and channel my life towards. After spending four years questioning and learning and relearning, I was ready to go out into the world and put all that into practice. Putting on a new outfit every day, the early morning commute, the “water cooler” chat as I sip my morning coffee with my co-workers – I was ready to start the next chapter of my life. Cue COVID-19. 

It wasn’t more than three months after returning from my small-town university in the Eastern Cape that the world was plunged into lockdowns, and everyday activities were suddenly no longer possible. It was as though all the autonomy and independence that we had accumulated over the years at varsity were suddenly stripped away. It was as if we were back at square one. In and amongst the mental tribulations of being confined to one’s home for work as well as leisure, some unexpected challenges also reared their ugly heads, such as feelings of hopelessness about a future that looked more and more as if it would be experienced through screens. Meeting people in both professional and personal capacities was something I had looked forward to but never got the chance to fully explore. This is something that has led to many young people losing confidence in themselves as the tactility of the world drifts off day by day. 

As much as I have been surrounded by technology and screens for most of my life, it was always up to me whether or not I wanted to use it. But now that technology has become a central part of the work world for those able to work from home, the novelty of it has somewhat worn off. I have been fortunate enough to be able to find a job that allows me to work remotely, which has forced me to rethink and re-evaluate many things, such as the future that I had in mind and what it looked like. Above all, the pandemic has shown me that given the uncertainty of the future, it is vital to be fluid and able to flow with the current, as nobody really knows exactly how the future will pan out. 

Coming from a world of structure and routine, I found it difficult to work to my full potential under circumstances that were anything but structured, thus forcing me to change my approach to work and how to achieve my full potential. I have found that incorporating things into my daily routine, such as getting dressed as though I have somewhere to go, “commuting” (even if it’s walking around my room or the garden) or simply being grateful that I can hear the birds chirping outside my window every morning, have helped to make it all seem a bit more normal. These were practices that for the first little while, seemed quite bizarre and uncomfortable, but have since become calming and reassuring. 

My wish is for leaders to be cognisant of the struggles of different generations and to not make the mistake of comparing hardships, as they are highly subjective experiences that do have a very real impact on performance, both in the workplace and out. Whilst I may never know the struggles of generations before me, I am acutely in tune with my own experiences and how I am overcoming difficulties – a process which gets revised regularly as life throws new challenges my way. I am slowly getting the hang of that all-important fluidity and getting more comfortable with the idea of not being comfortable. 

By Chili Perkes

Image credit: Nubelson Fernandes

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