- An intriguing new work trend has emerged: polyworking, which is used to describe the practice of holding multiple full-time jobs.
- According to Owl Labs’ latest State of Hybrid Work report, an impressive 46% of employees are engaged in at least one side hustle.
- Traditional office-based employees are actually twice as likely to have a side hustle compared to their hybrid and remote counterparts.
As we navigate through this era of work evolution, the traditional 9-to-5 job is being redefined, with hundreds of thousands of Americans juggling multiple roles simultaneously. From Gen Zers making their mark in multiple industries, to office-based employees doubling up on their hustle, the boundaries of work are being redrawn.
With the rise in living costs and inflation, an intriguing new trend has emerged: polyworking. This term, used to describe the practice of holding multiple full-time jobs, is not just a buzzword, but a necessity for an increasing number of people struggling to make ends meet.
How common is polyworking?
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 400,000 Americans are engaged in polyworking, representing 4.9% of the total US workforce of over 164 million.
The trend is particularly pronounced among Gen Zers, with almost half of this demographic currently holding multiple jobs. A poll conducted by Paychex found 47% of Gen Zers held three or more jobs, indicating that a staggering 93% of this generation were juggling multiple roles.
According to Owl Labs’ latest State of Hybrid Work report, an impressive 46% of employees are engaged in at least one side hustle, while an additional 20% expressed their desire to join the polyworking club.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is limited to remote workers: the study showed that traditional office-based employees are actually twice as likely to have a side hustle compared to their hybrid and remote counterparts. It’s clear that the boundaries of work are constantly expanding, and polyworking is a prime example of this dynamic shift.
What’s the reason for this uptick in polyworking?
Polyworking offers several benefits, including increased flexibility, additional income, and the freedom to explore different roles and industries. According to Paychex data, 59% of polyworkers appreciated the flexibility it offered, while 50% valued the additional income and freedom; 37% enjoyed the energy it brought, and 24% saw it as a creative outlet.
But the glaring reason for the growing prevalence of this type of work is very clearly the new cost of living.
Inflation has played a major role in the rising cost of living. The consumer price index, a key measure of U.S. inflation, nearly tripled from 2020 to 2021, rising from 1.4% to 7.0%. Although it fell slightly to 6.5% in 2022, it remains significantly higher than the two decades prior when it was below 3%.
In order to keep up with everyday expenses, workers are having to find quick solutions, and having multiple jobs and side hustles seems to be one of the most popular options.
Challenges of polyworking
Polyworking is not without its challenges. Research has shown that polyworkers are more likely to feel burned out, stressed, and uninspired. They also reported feeling less productive and expressed a desire for a healthier work role. Managers surveyed noted that polyworkers tended to have shorter tenures, slower learning and skill development, poor organization, and difficulty integrating into company culture.
Despite these challenges, many polyworkers plan to continue this work arrangement indefinitely. Around half of the respondents in the Paychex survey indicated their intention to polywork for the foreseeable future. The older the respondents were, the more likely they were to view polyworking as a long-term solution rather than a temporary measure.
Polyworking is a growing trend that offers both opportunities and challenges. While it provides flexibility, additional income, and the chance to diversify one’s skill set, it also demands high energy levels and can lead to burnout and stress. As such, individuals considering this work arrangement should carefully weigh its pros and cons.