Remote employee moonlighting: opportunity for employees; challenge for employers

True stories

“I found this site, overemployed.com. It taught me how to work two or three remote jobs at the same time and attain financial freedom. It even shows me how to negotiate a severance if one of the employers finds out and gets nasty.1”

“One of our highly paid professionals works remote. We don’t want to lose his talent, but he used to work 45 to 55 hours a week and now half the time I can’t find him when I call. He always calls me back, but it’s hours later. Last year, he was the first to volunteer for special projects. He doesn’t anymore. I heard a rumor he’s working another job, and I’m wondering if we’re getting what we’re paying for.”   

Career polygamy facts        

  In recent weeks, I’ve received dozens of calls and emails like the above that document the 2022 phenomenon of employees holding multiple remote jobs at the same time—with many hiding it from their employers.

            In October 2021, ResumeBuilder surveyed 1250 U.S. workers and learned that 69% of remote employees work a second jobwith 37% of them holding two full-time jobs.2 Although 45% of employees with second full-time jobs work remotely for both employers, 32% work their second full-time job in person and 23% have a hybrid full-time job.2

Only 34% of remote employees holding two full-time jobs log 80 hours weekly. Another 31% work 50 and 70 hours weekly, and 47% report working 40 hours or fewer weekly at both jobs combined. 84% of those who have two full-time jobs consider their own business as their second job, a situation made easier by remote work coupled with flexible hours.

Employer reaction

The above facts make employers uneasy. Not only do some employees shortchange employers, but some have transitioned from moonlighting to daylighting, double-dipping salaries during core working hours. Further, the fatigue felt by employees working two and three jobs may lead to declining performance and productivity. The labor shortage, however, makes employers reluctant to address moonlighting in a manner employees might resent.

Employer solutions

Here’s what employers can do. They can meet with employees they suspect of moonlighting and agree on guardrails that protect the employer’s interests without inhibiting their employees’ freedom. These might include:

  1. Please let us know if you’re moonlighting.
  2. Please fulfill your job duties and maintain an expected level of productivity on employer-paid time.
  3. Please don’t “daylight” or moonlight during essential work hours.
  4. Please observe your fiduciary or confidentiality obligations.
  5. Please don’t moonlight for competitors or for an organization that creates a conflict of interest.
  6. If you’re creating your own business, please don’t siphon off our clients and customers or market them during paid working hours.
  7. Please don’t use employer-paid Internet service or equipment on behalf of other employers.

The bottom line? — Career polygamy is here. While employers can’t stomp it out, they can address it. And for employees, it’s an opportunity.

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5 thoughts on “Remote employee moonlighting: opportunity for employees; challenge for employers

  1. A little off the subject, a couple North Slope workers were each working 12 hour shifts for two different construction companies at the same time during the building of the Trans Alaskan Pipeline. The scam was detailed in the Campfollower, a weekly newspaper detailing news related to the construction of the pipeline. They were caught being paid to “work” day shift for one company and night shift for a different company during the same 24-hour period. Since they obviously had to sleep, the incident threw a light on the fact that some “jobs” didn’t require constant attendance. Considering wages at the time and “24 hours”, they may be the preeminent moonlighters ever.

  2. Thanks, Larry, I heard of this as well, with a variety of construction & oil patch companies, that double-billed their clients.

  3. Whoa! New word and concept learned today: career polygamy. This is sneaky and more pervasive than we might guess, it sounds like. Having the employer take some proactive steps, like reminding employees of their obligations to the employer and the ethical risks seems wise.

  4. Maybe the guy in your “true story” isn’t double dipping but just tired of working 45-55 hrs a week and is dropping that down for more time for himself. Maybe he’s out hiking when the boss calls. Of course if he is salary then this me time or if he is “daylighting” or “double dipping” is a problem as he is stealing from the company. If he is salary then a solution may be to make him hourly and watch his timesheet.

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