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December 22, 2023
|
4 mins to read

What does the phenomenon of Overemployment tell us about workplace skills?

Overemployment is becoming ever more common - but what can this phenomenon tell us about the state of workplace skills?
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

How many times have you been so busy that you’ve wished you could clone yourself, delegating your tasks to three separate and productive copies of you?

Or needed more money than you earn from your singular job, but lamented the lack of hours in the day?

For the Overemployed, the reality of one physical body doesn’t hinder them from being in two - or three, or even four - places at once. A secretive, counter-culture community in pursuit of financial freedom, these corporate shapeshifters take on multiple, full-time remote jobs in secret, multiplying their income while (presumably) dividing their sleeping hours.

In an article for Business Insider, Aki Ito pointed out that the Overemployed aren’t in the business of extreme, flashy wealth or the acquisition of more stuff. Their mission is one of sustainable, long–term financial freedom. They purposely live frugally and within their means in order to achieve their personal goals (such as buying a house, saving for their family, or retiring early.)

The official Overemployed website founded by “Isaac” (a pseudonym) is full of success stories from workers who have made the switch from one measly job to two, three, or more. People write of going from sleeping in a storage cupboard to buying a house; of upgrading from a wage of $16 an hour to $1.2 million in one year, thanks to working five (!) remote jobs; of living paycheck to paycheck before Overemployment furnished them with a six figure salary.

It’s easy to see why people are tempted by this lifestyle - nerve-wracking as it may be. According to a January 2023 report from Monster.com, 37% of respondents admitted to having two full-time jobs, and 56% think they could work another full-time job without their employer(s) knowing.

Meanwhile, in L&D and HR circles, there’s an ongoing conversation about skills shortages. As we learn more about the phenomenon of Overemployment, we can’t help but connect the two conversations.

At a time in which we’re lamenting a lack of skills in today’s workforce, there is a steadily growing group of people who have so many skills that they’re able to secretly juggle numerous jobs without alerting the suspicion of their higher-ups.

So, what can we learn about workplace skills from the phenomenon of Overemployment? This blog will explore three key takeaways.

But first…

A caveat

Fascinating and illuminating as it may be, we’re aware that Overemployment is a controversial topic.

At the time of writing, it is not technically illegal in the UK to work multiple jobs - but if done without the consent or knowledge of an employer, it can be morally sticky. We’re not advocating for this practice, nor do we aim to unpack its ethical implications in this blog. We’re specifically exploring its impact on workplace skills.

Now that’s out of the way, onto the lessons …

People are more adaptable than we think

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released a report detailing the top ten most desirable skills of 2023, and the top ten skills on the rise. “Resilience, flexibility and agility” made both of these lists - firmly cementing the fact that this is a skill set in high demand for employers.

Well, if the trend of Overemployment teaches us anything about workplace skills, it’s this: Adaptability is a skill that employees have in abundance.

The competence to switch between multiple job roles, juggle the myriad tasks and demands of different companies, and somehow still find time to sleep seems to denote a profound ability to multitask, adapt and be flexible.

From the Overemployed website:

“It’s all about efficiency. If you can, delegate administrative tasks to a virtual assistant, so you’re free to focus on the high-value tasks that only you can do. If you can’t delegate, try to batch tasks within each job so that you can get them done faster without having to do mental switching … 2xing requires some mental agility for task-switching.”


Self-motivation is not in short supply

Another desirable skill listed in The World Economic Forum’s report was “motivation and self-awareness.”

For our money, Overemployment implies that this skill set is far from being in short supply. Let’s explore how and why.

Self-motivation

In order to acquire, work and succeed in more than one job role, the employee in question has to have a great deal of self-motivation. They need to be able to organise their time efficiently, and stay motivated in order to complete double (or triple) the amount of tasks than the average person.

You could link this motivation back to the common goal of financial freedom, or even the desire to make use of a diverse skill set (more on that later.)

But whatever the core ambition may be, it’s clear that the Overemployed have no trouble connecting to - and capitalising on - that ambition, in order to get the job(s) done.

Self-awareness

Overemployment also calls for self-awareness. Why?

Because in order to be one of the Overemployed, you first need to dig deep into your understanding of yourself. What are my marketable skills? Can I handle multiple jobs? Do I have the ability, energy and time to juggle two separate to-do lists?

These are the questions the Overemployed need to ask themselves - and for those who are successful, it’s only once they’ve answered these questions that they can truly commit themselves to the lifestyle.

Clearly, being Overemployed is not for everyone - but for those who have a clear sense of their strengths, weaknesses and limits, it can be as freeing as it is anxiety-inducing.

People want to make use of their diverse skill sets

The final thing we can learn about workplace skills from Overemployment is the fact that the modern workforce’s skill set is more diverse than you may think - and that they are ready and willing to make use of that.

In an article for BBC Worklife, Catherine Chandler-Crichlow (Executive Director for career management at Ivey Business School at Western University in Ontario, Canada) linked the phenomenon of Overemployment to a desire to optimise a diverse skill set. In Catherine’s words:

“As we have been forced to work from home, people have probably started looking at, ‘where can my skill set be truly optimised?, What are some of the things that I have a real passion for – and how might I use those skills differently?’”

As well as providing a safety net of extra income - and being a step on the road to owning a house, or a retirement cabin by a lake - Overemployment can provide employees with much needed stimulation when they feel that one or more of their skills is not being used in their current role.

It can also allow them to expand on these skills or learn new ones, further diversifying their experience and financial security.

Though Overemployment may seem risky for job security, it often acts as a step towards it.

Thanks for reading! Interested in contributing to the conversation? Join us on Linkedin.

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See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.

December 22, 2023
|
4 mins to read

What does the phenomenon of Overemployment tell us about workplace skills?

Overemployment is becoming ever more common - but what can this phenomenon tell us about the state of workplace skills?
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

How many times have you been so busy that you’ve wished you could clone yourself, delegating your tasks to three separate and productive copies of you?

Or needed more money than you earn from your singular job, but lamented the lack of hours in the day?

For the Overemployed, the reality of one physical body doesn’t hinder them from being in two - or three, or even four - places at once. A secretive, counter-culture community in pursuit of financial freedom, these corporate shapeshifters take on multiple, full-time remote jobs in secret, multiplying their income while (presumably) dividing their sleeping hours.

In an article for Business Insider, Aki Ito pointed out that the Overemployed aren’t in the business of extreme, flashy wealth or the acquisition of more stuff. Their mission is one of sustainable, long–term financial freedom. They purposely live frugally and within their means in order to achieve their personal goals (such as buying a house, saving for their family, or retiring early.)

The official Overemployed website founded by “Isaac” (a pseudonym) is full of success stories from workers who have made the switch from one measly job to two, three, or more. People write of going from sleeping in a storage cupboard to buying a house; of upgrading from a wage of $16 an hour to $1.2 million in one year, thanks to working five (!) remote jobs; of living paycheck to paycheck before Overemployment furnished them with a six figure salary.

It’s easy to see why people are tempted by this lifestyle - nerve-wracking as it may be. According to a January 2023 report from Monster.com, 37% of respondents admitted to having two full-time jobs, and 56% think they could work another full-time job without their employer(s) knowing.

Meanwhile, in L&D and HR circles, there’s an ongoing conversation about skills shortages. As we learn more about the phenomenon of Overemployment, we can’t help but connect the two conversations.

At a time in which we’re lamenting a lack of skills in today’s workforce, there is a steadily growing group of people who have so many skills that they’re able to secretly juggle numerous jobs without alerting the suspicion of their higher-ups.

So, what can we learn about workplace skills from the phenomenon of Overemployment? This blog will explore three key takeaways.

But first…

A caveat

Fascinating and illuminating as it may be, we’re aware that Overemployment is a controversial topic.

At the time of writing, it is not technically illegal in the UK to work multiple jobs - but if done without the consent or knowledge of an employer, it can be morally sticky. We’re not advocating for this practice, nor do we aim to unpack its ethical implications in this blog. We’re specifically exploring its impact on workplace skills.

Now that’s out of the way, onto the lessons …

People are more adaptable than we think

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released a report detailing the top ten most desirable skills of 2023, and the top ten skills on the rise. “Resilience, flexibility and agility” made both of these lists - firmly cementing the fact that this is a skill set in high demand for employers.

Well, if the trend of Overemployment teaches us anything about workplace skills, it’s this: Adaptability is a skill that employees have in abundance.

The competence to switch between multiple job roles, juggle the myriad tasks and demands of different companies, and somehow still find time to sleep seems to denote a profound ability to multitask, adapt and be flexible.

From the Overemployed website:

“It’s all about efficiency. If you can, delegate administrative tasks to a virtual assistant, so you’re free to focus on the high-value tasks that only you can do. If you can’t delegate, try to batch tasks within each job so that you can get them done faster without having to do mental switching … 2xing requires some mental agility for task-switching.”


Self-motivation is not in short supply

Another desirable skill listed in The World Economic Forum’s report was “motivation and self-awareness.”

For our money, Overemployment implies that this skill set is far from being in short supply. Let’s explore how and why.

Self-motivation

In order to acquire, work and succeed in more than one job role, the employee in question has to have a great deal of self-motivation. They need to be able to organise their time efficiently, and stay motivated in order to complete double (or triple) the amount of tasks than the average person.

You could link this motivation back to the common goal of financial freedom, or even the desire to make use of a diverse skill set (more on that later.)

But whatever the core ambition may be, it’s clear that the Overemployed have no trouble connecting to - and capitalising on - that ambition, in order to get the job(s) done.

Self-awareness

Overemployment also calls for self-awareness. Why?

Because in order to be one of the Overemployed, you first need to dig deep into your understanding of yourself. What are my marketable skills? Can I handle multiple jobs? Do I have the ability, energy and time to juggle two separate to-do lists?

These are the questions the Overemployed need to ask themselves - and for those who are successful, it’s only once they’ve answered these questions that they can truly commit themselves to the lifestyle.

Clearly, being Overemployed is not for everyone - but for those who have a clear sense of their strengths, weaknesses and limits, it can be as freeing as it is anxiety-inducing.

People want to make use of their diverse skill sets

The final thing we can learn about workplace skills from Overemployment is the fact that the modern workforce’s skill set is more diverse than you may think - and that they are ready and willing to make use of that.

In an article for BBC Worklife, Catherine Chandler-Crichlow (Executive Director for career management at Ivey Business School at Western University in Ontario, Canada) linked the phenomenon of Overemployment to a desire to optimise a diverse skill set. In Catherine’s words:

“As we have been forced to work from home, people have probably started looking at, ‘where can my skill set be truly optimised?, What are some of the things that I have a real passion for – and how might I use those skills differently?’”

As well as providing a safety net of extra income - and being a step on the road to owning a house, or a retirement cabin by a lake - Overemployment can provide employees with much needed stimulation when they feel that one or more of their skills is not being used in their current role.

It can also allow them to expand on these skills or learn new ones, further diversifying their experience and financial security.

Though Overemployment may seem risky for job security, it often acts as a step towards it.

Thanks for reading! Interested in contributing to the conversation? Join us on Linkedin.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.