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What is Poly-Working? 

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Posted by: David Garcia October 16, 2023
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No one could have foreseen the massive change in working practices, an unexpected consequence of the global pandemic.

Some companies had already started a move towards flexible home working, but COVID-19 accelerated this trend at record speed.

Now, much of the workforce is still at home out of choice, with flexible or hybrid working as the new buzzwords. Tech developments make this extremely easy, too.

However, now, the latest trend is poly-working. COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the relationship between employer and employee, and poly-working is just the next chapter in the story.

What Does Poly-Working Mean?

Poly-working is the practice of working multiple jobs.

The global pandemic forced millions of workers to stay home, a seismic shift for employees. Fast forward a few years, and many decided they didn’t want to return to the office; hybrid or home working became the new normal.

Now, poly-working is on the scene, and this is another huge change for employers to manage.

Poly-working tends to be more common amongst junior employees than senior staff; logistically, employees in management or high-profile roles find it much harder to run two full-time or multiple part-time jobs around their primary employment.

Poly-working also seems to be a trend in the tech, finance, advertising, and marketing sectors.

The idea of working more than one job to make ends meet is as old as the hills, but poly-working isn’t driven solely by higher income requirements; its triggers are more nuanced and complex.

Below, we’ll take a look at the potential risk this poses to employers, as well as what benefits this practice offers to the employees who choose to engage in it.

Potential Employer Risk

The first and most obvious risk to any employer is that they’re not receiving value for money from their employee because they’re not dedicating their time to that role. Consequently, productivity suffers.

Next on the potential list of pitfalls is which employer owes the duty of care to an employee in any situation. The answer is all employers owe a duty of care to their employees, but poly-working makes it complicated to allocate responsibility.

For instance, what happens if the strain of a job with Employer A compromises an employee’s health? Where does that leave Employer B? 

However, the most significant and potentially serious issue with poly-working is that many employers don’t know their employees are doing it until there’s a problem.

Benefits of Poly-Working for Employees

There are many reasons why an employee could choose to poly-work. We’ll cover some common reasons below:

Increased Income

More jobs equals more money, and poly-working can be very lucrative for employees, allowing them to make more money than they otherwise would with a single employer.

Improved Prospects

Poly-working doesn’t have to mean a conflict of employment. Some poly-workers operate across different time zones, so they work consecutively rather than concurrently. It’s an excellent way to develop existing skills or acquire new ones.

Variety and Diversity

Employees who poly-work experience more diversity and variety in their daily lives. For many poly-workers, their different jobs can complement one another.

Taking on another full-time or part-time role can be experimental or horizon-broadening without risking jumping ship and leaving a familiar, well-paid job. 

Many employees completely re-evaluated their working lives after COVID-19, leading to ‘the Great Resignation.’ 

So-called Gen Z employees take a different approach and are more likely to embrace poly-working and less likely to accept the mundane 9-5 existence, questioning the accepted norms. It’s all about a multi-faceted work life.

How Companies Should Approach Poly-Working

Being draconian about poly-working will only alienate employees and have them running for the door. Face it, poly-working is here to stay. So, what can employers do to manage poly-working or discourage it?

First, promote employee loyalty with good company benefits and on-target pay reviews. Working multiple jobs is hard, so if your employees feel valued and well-compensated, they’re less likely to want to do it.

Next, foster good relationships between managers and employees. That can be challenging when people are home or hybrid working. A sense of disconnect from other colleagues makes people feel unhappy and dissatisfied, meaning they’re more likely to poly-work or leave.

Don’t spy on employees using tracking software or other tech; this will seriously get the wrong reaction, even if there’s every justification for the employer to use it. Hybrid and home working is all about trust and flexibility.

Getting the best out of a team is crucial to any employer’s poly-working strategy.

Encourage collaborative office time for brainstorming, projects, or just regular team meetings; it’s an excellent way to keep teams focused, encourage interaction, and avoid the sense of isolation homeworkers experience.

Final Thoughts

Poly-working doesn’t have many or any advantages for employers. Creating a positive, motivated, and happy workforce is a priority to stop employees from engaging in the practice if they primarily work from home.

Finding the right employees is also vital, starting with background checks. Employees who poly-work are more likely to leave their existing jobs, so they could have a checkered work record or have run into problems with tax agencies, leaving a footprint.

Thoroughly vetting potential employees is essential for any company or organization and should include employment verificationcivil record checks, even a view of social media, and more. With proper background checks, you can make sure that a candidate is the right fit for your company. 

Managing poly-working requires a holistic approach operating on different levels, which starts with recruitment. Know who you’re hiring with our comprehensive background check services at ScoutLogic!

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