That sentiment may be part of the reason many people are now turning to what they call “polyworking,” or choosing to hold multiple part-time jobs instead of one full-time one—not as a means to an end, but apparently. , as a permanent thing. As a hashtag, the term “Polywork,” which has amassed 4.2 million views on TikTok, was coined by the business-meets-social network of the same name that launched last year (and soon after, announced a $3.5-million seed round. ). According to a blog post by company founder Peter Johnston, PolyWorks (the social network) today was created with the idea that “we are all more than we are.” [singular] Job Title” and people who do many things need space completely Represent yourself and their interests beyond the basic LinkedIn parameters of job title, school, and past experience.
Traditional 9-to-5 work infrastructures can be weakened in favor of something more flexible and versatile.
But there is some evidence that polyworking can take widespread root independently of the social network of the same name. In a survey of 1,000 human-resources professionals conducted last year by Fiverr and Hibob, 54 percent of workers who quit their company no Skipping new full-time jobs, but instead choosing to work for yourself as a freelancer, founder, or small-business owner. Coupled with data related to the rapid growth of the gig economy (which is expected to comprise up to 50 percent of the US working population by 2027), these insights reflect the weakening of the traditional 9-to-5 work infrastructure in favor of something else. More flexible and versatile.
Of course, the concept of freelancing or gigging in many fields is nothing new. For as long as capitalism has been around, people have held more than one job at a time out of economic necessity. This is arguably the factor driving the polyworking push right now. In fact, according to the 2021 Census report, the share of people holding down multiple jobs in the U.S. has been increasing over the years, with people pulling an average of 28 percent of their income from a second job.
But, according to career experts, the forces driving people toward polyworking are more nuanced than money alone can explain. For example, consider the possibility of finding a career and work schedule that better matches your interests and skill set, says burnout expert Irena Sargent, founder of workplace burnout organization Hooky Wellness.
This kind of diversity really registers for people like Zoey Gong, who was once a registered dietitian at a hospital, but is now a chef, food writer, cookbook author, illustrator, and entrepreneur, among other things. “From a mental health perspective, polyworking is really liberating,” she says. “If I’m lazy or tired of writing, I pick up my paintbrush; if I’m stuck painting, I open my laptop and work on my new event-space business. My mind is always stimulated this way, and I’m more I’m able to be creative.”
Of course, that scenario reflects the polyworking ideal, and taking on multiple roles can also lead to rapid burnout. For that reason, the concept of polyworking has also received some serious flak from people who see it as nothing more than glorification of “hustle culture” (inspired by the extremely low-paying job market).
Below, career experts break down why many people believe there are real risks to continuing polyworking (outside of financial reasons) and discarding the single-job norm.
What career experts suspect is that many people are driven to “polywork.”
For starters, the pandemic has put a premium on our time, says Sgt. “Our own mortality was placed front and center, a reminder that we have a limited amount of time on earth. So, the question became, ‘How can I use that time in a way that makes me feel fulfilled and proud?'” Naturally, in response to this question you This may include what you do outside of gainful work, but for some people, it was just as important to re-prioritize their working hours and rethink what role (or roles) they can fill that they enjoy or from which they derive meaning.
“I’m now seeing people with traditionally prestigious Fortune 500 jobs move to Polywork because it better meets their need for creativity and freedom.” -Rachel Montanez, Burnout Coach
Sargent suspects the idea is likely spreading to Gen Zers and Millennials (whom the Polywork platform caters to) because of broader workplace changes pre-dating the pandemic. For some time now, famously job-hopping millennials have been pursuing work differently than their predecessors, looking more for fulfillment than for a steady paycheck—and Gen-Xers may be embracing the same behavior. The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey found that Gen Z respondents chose their employer in search of a good work/life balance (32 percent), learning and development opportunities (29 percent), and getting meaning from their work (21 percent). .
“I’m now seeing people with traditionally prestigious Fortune 500 jobs moving to polywork because it better meets their need for creativity and independence,” says career and burnout coach Rachel Montanez. “They feel they can’t possibly get everything from one place.”
And to say a job market that’s definitely in favor of employees doesn’t mean they’re definitely not. “With the current demand for talent completely outstripping the supply of candidates, it’s no surprise that polyworking is becoming a trend,” says Carly Mednick, co-founder of recruiting firm Monday Talent. “Gen Xers have recognized that their skill sets can be used in a variety of ways, and they are pursuing non-traditional paths. [like polyworking] To take advantage of it.”
Because the younger generation has less time to settle into the traditional 9-to-5 workforce, polywork can feel out of the ordinary for these people compared to an equally viable alternative. However, pre-pandemic data from a 2019 survey by Deloitte found that four out of five Gen Xers and Millennials preferred gig work to traditional work, and Statista’s 2020 data found that 50 percent of Gen Xers and 44 percent of Millennials participated. in freelance work, while the numbers for Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers were only 30 and 26 percent, respectively.
When the pandemic arrived with its stay-at-home order and threw office workplaces for a loop, it’s no surprise that the (already booming) freelance and gig economies stood to benefit. “Working from home really sparked the idea [of polyworking] Because there wasn’t this set-in-stone expectation of being in an office,” says Sargent. “It gave a lot of people more control over how they could use their time.” Meanwhile, the growing popularity of flexible work schedules has only contributed to that sense of control, which It has made it easier to envision a world where people can juggle not just one, but two or three jobs in a workday.
That’s exactly what happened to Julia Lembersky, who plunged into polyworking after losing her executive role at Uber in 2020. “I reached out to my network for opportunities, and several exciting ones emerged,” she says. “Now being tied to a physical office, I’m able to take on multiple opportunities at the same time.” (Among them was a chance to become a managing director at a marketing agency, real estate investor, and principal of a venture capital fund, among other things.)
Possible results of Polywork gone wrong
That said, shiftworking is not without its drawbacks. Sometimes, more just means More— and with additional job titles or gigs can come more responsibilities than you can comfortably fit into the workweek. “One of the most commonly acknowledged drivers of burnout is workload, and just by the nature of signing up for multiple jobs, you’re increasing the workload,” says Sargent. “So, if you don’t go into it with the awareness that you have to manage your time differently, polyworking can lead to burnout.”
It becomes a particular risk when you assume you can multitask your way through multitasking, says research psychologist Larry Rosen, Ph.D., author. disturbed mind. “What we know from research is that multitasking is a myth,” he says. “With the exception of walking and chewing gum or some other automatic activity, doing two things at once doesn’t work.”
Instead, what tends to happen is task-switching, or shifting back and forth from one thing to another. This increases the time it takes you to do both tasks because of what’s called “restart lag,” referring to the time it takes to return to the first task after switching off from the second task, Dr. Rosen says. . While any single full-time job can and often requires multiple tasks—say, sending an email to a client and creating a presentation—the differences between the tasks involved in two or more different roles can be much greater, as this time increases. Takes you to move between them.
“I often find context-switching very tiring and time-consuming,” says Lembersky, addressing elements of her various roles one after the other. The more time a person loses in that scenario, the more anxiety can grow, how important time really is in any polyworking situation, Dr. Rosen adds. It’s not just a scheduling issue – whether you pay by the hour or per project, your time is literally money. And downtime context-switching between projects can cut into your income.
While it’s certainly possible to avoid that spiral by having firm boundaries in each role and a clear time-management plan, there are some other downsides to polyworking to consider—especially for people with multiple jobs all part-time roles. That is, you may find that you “have particularly little opportunity, especially if you’re working in different industries and jobs,” says Mednick, and “you may be overlooked for promotions or other development opportunities,” Montez says.
You may also lose key benefits, such as health care, that are only offered to full-time employees, which is an important financial consideration to weigh. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made it possible for millions of Americans to get insurance coverage, it can still be expensive. The national average monthly cost of an ACA plan in 2020 (without subsidies) was $456 for individuals, $1,152 for families of two or more. Some Gen Xers may have parents with health insurance (and thus have coverage until they’re 26), but for other people without that privilege (and millennials, who are now over 26), polyworking can make it harder to get good health-care. Coverage.
Ultimately, polyworking may make the most sense for young people, not only because these people may be more open to non-traditional work paths or more eager to fill their days with various fulfilling tasks, but also because they are often more capable. Do so – without costing huge career or monetary hits, that is. “Gen Xers are in what career theories call an exploration phase, so polyworking may just be a way to test out different jobs and companies to see which path is the most aligned,” says Montez. (Especially if they don’t have dependents like children or parents to care for.) The idea is that polyworkers Finally Pick a job, and stick to it.
But that, too, could change if workplaces begin to respond to the polywork trend, helping to reinforce part-time and gig work as a culturally valid and economically viable end goal. And just as the 9-to-5 workday is becoming less common amid the rise of flexible work schedules, so too may full-time workers.
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