Sunday, June 23, 2024

Polyworking as a Developer: The Good, the Bad, and the Grey

Programming LanguagePolyworking as a Developer: The Good, the Bad, and the Grey

Since Covid-19 threw everyone’s working (and personal) lives into disarray, there has been a shift in employee culture, far from the ‘workaholism’ that was once considered essential to surviving in today’s economy. For all its devastating consequences, the pandemic and its lockdowns allowed employees to step away from the old, into a new normal. Employees started to realise they enjoy working from home, on their own time, and outside of the 9 to 5 rat race.

It’s precisely this environment that has allowed the ‘quiet quitting’ (doing only what you’re paid to do and nothing more) and the ’polyworking’ movements.

What is Polyworking

The term ‘polyworking’ has recently been coined to describe, working more than one job. Some refer to it as a series of side hustles made permanent, a welcome change to the monotony of 9 to 5, and a way to fast-track experience and industry exposure whilst maintaining your creative freedom. 

The ‘polywork’ hashtag has 4.2 million views on TikTok and is currently gaining more traction. Founder Peter Johnson coined the phrase and the new professional social network of the same name, which allows professionals to share who they are, what they do, and what they wish to work on. ‘We are all more than our [singular] job titles,’ according to Johnson. 

The gig economy (a market of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs) has seen a huge uptick in popularity since 2020, and it makes sense that ‘polyworking’ is an extension of this notion. So how does this affect tech professionals? 

Tech professionals can easily get sucked into this. Working different gigs, and passion projects that require a lot of time has somehow become the new ‘normal’ for tech professionals, and somehow people are now expecting you to be working on different projects. However, the question remains. How much of it is based on sheer will, and how much of it is based on survival needs?

The Benefits of Polyworking

For many people, ‘polyworking’ means more motivation and productivity at work, better work/life balance, and more control over your career. This autonomy can ultimately lead you to more happiness and job satisfaction, as well as more freedom in the way you work.

Studies have shown that many Millennial and Gen Z employees are less interested in working for only one company for a significant amount of time, They choose freelancing and polyworking to build their careers their way. By using their time as they see fit, they are given the freedom to work how they want, when they want, and from where they want.

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It looks good on your CV

Until recently, it was highly valued to be able to demonstrate your loyalty to a specific company. Today, this sort of ‘loyalty’ can still be regarded highly, but things are changing. With polyworking, you might be getting even more experience and exposure to your chosen industry. Not to mention the number of connections you’ll be making.

You can ‘shop around’ for the right fit

Today, companies can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to employee satisfaction. As companies discovered post-pandemic, if they won’t provide flexible working solutions, benefits, or higher pay for their employees, another company will.

In a survey conducted by Polywork, out of 1,000 employees, more than half said that an exciting professional life was more important than money. Honeypot’s own Developer Happiness Index, also found that developers value the work-life balance more than anything else. Polyworking is a great way to keep motivation high by exploring a range of multiple jobs across different industries and testing what kind of work environments suit you best. It helps that many companies are working harder to make employees happier, as word of mouth spreads quickly in a market that (especially for those in IT- a ‘second wind’ career for many people) is running hot.

Why Polyworking is ‘Ideal’ for Programmers

Those working in the IT industry are in an ideal position to embark on a ‘polyworking’ lifestyle. Not the kind that you might have experienced as a student or young worker. But a sort of permanent lifestyle.   

As long as you have a computer and a good internet connection, you can work from pretty much anywhere in the world. That’s what draws a lot of people into coding, to begin with. We also see a lot of individuals in the industry hop from company to company depending on pay, benefits, and creative fulfillment. Juggling more than one job means greater diversity in your work, and often the workload works out very similarly to a full-time role with one company.   

For many software developers and tech professionals ‘polyworking’ has become the norm since the pandemic. Job dissatisfaction and the affirmation that you can work remotely and do it well, have opened up avenues for many to work on ‘passion’ projects.

The Problems of Polyworking

Many argue that ‘polyworking’ enables more stress than singular jobs and that having multiple jobs isn’t for everyone. Some worry that it normalises shitty salaries that make it impossible to make a living with a single job.

There are other downsides when it comes to ‘polyworking’. As a freelancer, there are some essential benefits you might miss, like insurance and paid holidays. Some might not enjoy the flexibility and autonomy of a multifaceted career, or working with other people. For many, the co-workers and the work environment make the job! You might not feel the same level of job security in a polyworking arrangement- but many polyworkers still hold down part-time jobs. It’s just not the one job!  

Furthermore, some see ‘polyworking’ as a necessity, not a choice, with writer Stephen Moore of Business Insider saying that whilst polywork may seem flexible and freeing, it’s more a reflection of our underpaid work environment and not aspirational. 

An opinion that feeds into the narrative of making underpaid jobs a new ‘trend’. Meaning that we simply aren’t being paid enough by our ‘main’ job to sustain the rising living costs. According to Stephen, ‘polyworking’ shouldn’t be painted as a be-all, end-all to job satisfaction. 


Still, ‘polyworking’ can be a choice, not a necessity. By its definition, polywork is about taking on different (but often complementary) roles. And it can be a notable shift from the café/retail/bar working combo you might have to balance as a struggling youth and/or student (that surely wasn’t just me?).    

What do you think? Have you ever polyworked? Do you know someone who has? Does this kind of lifestyle appeal to you?

Let us know how you make your job- or jobs- in the IT industry your own.  

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