Has the Covid-19 pandemic radically altered your view of employment? Did the rapid shift from in-office to virtual work lead you to re-assess your life and future? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are not alone. Less, than eighteen months after the first Covid-19 lockdown, a survey from the career site, Monster, revealed that 95 per cent of workers are thinking about applying for a new job, while 92 per cent of workers considered switching professions. Many complained about burn-out and Zoom fatigue arising from new arrangements, which continue to blur the boundary between home and work.
Enter, polyworking! Many people use the new opportunity provided by ‘working from home’ to undertake two or more jobs. The idea of polyworking, during pre-pandemic, included an element of freedom and emancipation as many managed multiple jobs to escape the world of monotony and boredom. It gave the YOLO (You Only Live Once) generation an opportunity for creativity, self-expression, and authenticity. Polyworking gave people the opportunity to pursue hobbies and passions; it gave teachers the opportunity to do part-time film-making and tech-consultants to pursue professional photography. Thus, it is not surprising to see that a study by the social network Polywork shows 64 percent of employees aged twenty-one to forty are working more than one job or hope to work multiple jobs in the future.
The ‘Great Resignation’ has accelerated the speed and the desire for polyworking, which has prompted high number of job vacancies, burnout and new working arrangements due to the pandemic. More crucially, Covid-19 has exposed the gender inequality baked into polywork. For men polyworking includes an element of choice, for women it includes completing the double-burden of paid and unpaid work, completing relevant household chores, ensuring that the children are attending virtual learning, whilst maintaining a full-time job. Nevertheless, the new and emerging types of work arrangements arising from the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to shape the future of work, some of this may ultimately be an extension of what the late anthropologist, David Graeber, described as ‘bullshit chores’. Thanks to Covid-19, the very nature of time is changing; we are now in corona-time. Corona-time, or ‘blursday’, is when the day and a week, a weekday and a weekend, the morning and night, the present and the recent past, are all rolled into one. More significantly, the days blend together and the months simply lurch ahead. Covid-19 also transformed the nature of life, as it began to blur the boundaries between the virtual and the real. We see this in how everything from birth, engagement, indeed, the cycle of life, is captured, uploaded, and shared online. As the world suddenly changed beyond recognition, Zoom emerged as the key word of our time.