Why Career Polygamy is the Norm for Today’s Remote Workers
September 13, 2022
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by Stephen Kanyi

For a long time, at least since the industrial revolution, career monogamy has been the norm. The idea was to get a job, grow your career with a single employer and rise through the ranks.

Of course, I should go ahead and just clarify that my choice of words in using monogamy and polygamy is in relation to careers and not romance.

Career monogamy is no longer the norm. More and more workers are choosing to work two or even more jobs (career polygamy) to not only make more money but to also enrich their skillset. Having more than one skill set will set you apart from the lot and give you a better chance of landing a good job.

This is however not exactly a new phenomenon, juggling two jobs to eke out a living is an idea that is as old as work itself. What is new is that the so-called ‘side hustles’ are no longer just small projects to be done in one’s free time.

What we are seeing today is that workers are continuously choosing to work full-time for one, two or even more employers.

How is this possible?

Well, technology has enabled us to be more effective than we have ever been. Workers are able to get more done in less time thus freeing them up to pursue more in both their careers and at home. Why settle for less when we have the tools to do a lot more?

That said, technology is not the only reason workers are choosing to work for more than one employer. A lot of this shift has to do with the changing attitudes of workers today. The global economy has impacted how employees view work today; not just as a means to make money but also as a source of joy and fulfilment.

Here are some of the factors driving this:

Increased Desire for Learning and Development

The old industrial lifestyle of just punching the clock and going home just doesn’t cut it anymore. Modern workers are constantly learning and honing their skill sets to advance their careers. In fact, so intense is this desire that many will change careers to find better growth opportunities. Research by Culture Amp found that one in three employees cited a lack of growth as their top reason for quitting their jobs.

As such, these workers are even more willing to juggle multiple jobs so as to maximize growth opportunities.

Shifting Values and Priorities

The recent pandemic lockdowns certainly gave people a lot to think about. Top of that list was job satisfaction. In a recent Gartner Survey, 65% of employees admitted to having seriously rethought their careers during the pandemic.

The result of this was The Great Resignation where a lot of employees quit their jobs to pursue more meaningful and lucrative job opportunities. Some didn’t even return to work.

For such people diversifying their jobs could certainly be the next logical step in their long search for better positions.

Staffing Shortages

This is perhaps one of the main drivers of career polygamy, there are simply many more opportunities for those willing to work. Post-pandemic, the labour market has been increasingly tight. It is now tougher than ever to find qualified workers to fill positions and bridge skill gaps. For those willing to work, however, there has never been a better time in the market. “Help wanted” signs are all over and many employers wouldn’t care if a worker was juggling two or more jobs, provided you are doing your job effectively.

Of course, it helps that technology can facilitate this kind of lifestyle as more employers are increasingly open to the idea of remote hiring.

Now I should go ahead and put a disclaimer on this piece, I am not outwardly advocating for ‘career polygamy’. There is still a lot of value in sticking to one employer for a long period of time. Focus, after all, is the best way of improving your skillset and being successful in the long run. This is the ideal that many professionals look for.

We however live in an imperfect world and have to adapt to the world’s ever-changing demands. For many people, one job is simply not enough to maintain one’s living standards, at least not with the current levels of global inflation we see today. Career polygamy is a simple matter of survival and evolution.

What I would however advise is that if you have to work for multiple employers, at least ensure that they both are in a similar field. Say, a software engineer works as an engineer for two different companies and not as an engineer for one and a sales rep for another. This way you can hone your skills and become more valuable in the job market. Contrary to what you may have heard, in the modern economy; specialization is king.

So next time you get a job offer or see an opening don’t say no just yet. If you are a remote worker this may be the perfect opportunity to expand your horizon and yes, make more money.

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