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Embracing Polywork: The Future of Work and How Companies Can Benefit

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

By Nick Boyd, MBA - HR & Talent Executive

In recent years, we have seen a shift towards a new paradigm of work: polywork, or the practice of working multiple jobs or projects concurrently. While some may view this trend with skepticism, it is important to understand the benefits that polywork can bring, not just to the individual worker, but to companies as well.

One major advantage of polywork is that it allows individuals to pursue their passions and interests, rather than being confined to a single career path. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a sense of purpose, as well as the opportunity to develop a diverse range of skills and experiences.

In addition, polywork can provide a more secure financial foundation for workers. By spreading their income streams across multiple sources, individuals can buffer themselves against the risks of relying on a single employer or industry. This is particularly important in today's volatile economic climate, where job security is no longer a given.

But the benefits of polywork extend beyond the individual worker. Companies that embrace and enable polywork can also stand to gain. By providing flexible work arrangements and investing in the professional development of their employees, they can attract and retain top talent and foster a culture of innovation and growth. This is becoming increasingly important as the war for talent heats up in the modern economy.

So how can companies support and enable polywork among their workforce? There are several ways that companies can do this:

  1. Offer flexible work arrangements, such as part-time or remote work, to allow employees to balance their work with other commitments. For example, IBM allows its employees to work flexible hours and offers remote work options.

  2. Provide professional development opportunities and encourage employees to pursue additional education or training. Google, for example, offers a variety of professional development opportunities, including training programs and mentorship programs.

  3. Encourage employees to take on side projects or freelance work, and offer support and resources to help them succeed. Adobe, for example, has a "side projects" program that allows employees to work on their own creative projects during company time.

  4. Implement policies that support work-life balance, such as paid time off for personal pursuits or time to volunteer in the community. Patagonia, for example, offers employees paid time off for personal pursuits and encourages them to spend up to two months per year volunteering in their communities.

  5. Offer resources or support for employees to find and pursue additional job or project opportunities. Accenture, for example, has a "Skills to Succeed" program that provides training and resources to help employees find and pursue additional job opportunities.

  6. Provide opportunities for employees to collaborate or work on cross-functional projects. Target, for example, encourages its employees to collaborate across departments and work on cross-functional projects.

  7. Encourage an entrepreneurial spirit and support employees in starting their own businesses or ventures. 3M, for example, has a program called "Innovation Leave" that allows employees to take a leave of absence to work on their own startup ideas.

  8. Create a company culture that values and supports the pursuit of diverse interests and passions. Zappos, for example, has a "Holacracy" management structure that values and encourages employees to pursue their passions and interests within the company.

By finding ways to invest in and enable polywork among their workforce, companies can win the war for talent and set themselves up for success in the modern economy.

Polywork is a trend that should be embraced, not feared. It offers individuals the opportunity to pursue their passions and build diverse careers, while also providing companies with a competitive edge and a way to attract and retain top talent. It is time to embrace the shift to polywork and all that it has to offer

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