For journalists and others in creative and technical fields, having a side hustle or doing freelance work is extremely common. In addition to a day job an editor, for example, one may write paid-per-piece articles for other publications who aren’t competitors of her primary employer, and typically (ideally) with her employer’s explicit or tacit approval. Some people do so for the needed additional income, some like the work.
And according to a story in The Wall Street Journal, a new website provides tips for tech workers who want to earn two full-time paychecks while working remotely, giving half-assed effort to one (or both) and without letting either employer know about the other. The WSJ describes the scenario:
Alone in their home offices, they toggle between two laptops. They play “Tetris” with their calendars, trying to dodge endless meetings. Sometimes they log on to two meetings at once. They use paid time off—in some cases, unlimited—to juggle the occasional big project or ramp up at a new gig. Many say they don’t work more than 40 hours a week for both jobs combined. They don’t apologize for taking advantage of a system they feel has taken advantage of them.
The workers who spoke to the WSJ (anonymously) seem to go to great lengths to work for two companies simultaneously; from keeping extremely organized calendars, to juggling overlapping Zoom calls and project deadlines. And while it’s not necessarily illegal to work for more than one company, the WSJ reports, such arrangements may run afoul of employment contracts.
There’s no doubt that many employers are reaping what they’ve sown with workers across the employment spectrum; along with a lack of job security and meager paychecks, workers are dealing with a pandemic that has upended home and work life for everyone. The thing that bugged me in this piece was how some of the workers talked about gaming the system by lying about what are valid reasons someone would need accommodation from their employer: They use their unlimited PTO for a month off and cite “COVID-19 burnout,” or skip out of double-booked meetings by taking “an imaginary call from a child’s school.”
Go read this very interesting WSJ piece about what it’s like to juggle remote jobs, and how people claim to get away with it.