Smart working, there are those who use it to work for four companies at the same time

Smart working, there are those who use it to work for four companies at the same time

Smart working

During the week Abel starts smart working at 9 am in the private office he recently rented in Chicago. He doesn't eat breakfast and works until 2pm, when he goes on his lunch break. The similarities with most other tech workers end there though. Abel does not one, but four full-time jobs in secret, all for startups. Overall, his combined annual salary is $ 680,000.

He started juggling different jobs a year ago when he realized he could complete the tasks he was assigned with quality and a faster speed than his colleagues. "I found myself with a lot of free time - says the 35-year-old -. With the increase in inflation and with the annual adjustments that are not up to par, I thought that accepting a second job was a good way to anticipate the times. and my wife have three children and are trying to save money to buy a house. "

He has been doing his first job (which he calls "L1") for about four years, while he started L2 and L3 just over a year ago and L4 at the beginning of the summer. The idea is to keep all four jobs again next year. "The sheer amount of meetings is a stressor," explains Abel, who, like other tech workers that UK consulted for this article, asked not to use his real name for privacy reasons. . When two meetings at the same time overlap in his calendar, Abel attends both with two separate headsets: "It takes some practice, but now I can process both streams of information at the same time and pay attention to both." If he hears his name mentioned, Abel connects, while apologies for the bad connection help in case of delays. The overlap of three meetings, on the other hand, can become "absurd," he says.

With four salaries, Abel is not troubled by the recession in the tech sector and the mass layoffs. He submits monthly applications for new positions to keep things moving. "I can always move on to another job if something goes wrong: I've seen people perform five, but in this moment I've reached my limit".

Phenomenon on the rise (but not entirely new)

In the solitude of their home offices, employees work much more flexibly than in the pre-pandemic era. They can include virtual meetings and interviews with other companies within the day; some of them accept and manage multiple roles. Over the past decade - in the face of stagnant wages and rising cost of living - the practice of having more than one job has steadily increased, while the country's unemployment rate is at its lowest in 50 years. .

The phenomenon of over-employment has been exacerbated by the pandemic: if in April 2020 the United States Statistical Office had found that 4 percent of American workers had a second job, in August 2022 the figure it had grown by nearly a full percentage point. While there is no data on people remotely having more than one full-time job without the knowledge of their employers - usually with overlapping hours - this is unlikely to be an entirely new phenomenon.

Many tech companies were fully smart working before the pandemic, but the burgeoning r / Overemployed subreddit, a 92,300-member Reddit community that collects tips and tricks on how to juggle different jobs without anyone noticing, shows how workers are able to operate undetected when not tied to the office.

Marten - who holds a weekly session on the community's Discord channel where he gives advice to help people "maximize their earning potential" - he does not believe that there are many people who do more remote jobs. "I venture to say that for every 100 people interested, only 20 are able to do it and of those only half actually do it," says Marten, who lives in the United States. He is one of these people. He works 70 hours a week and earns between $ 150,000 and $ 220,000 a month as a management consultant expert in strategies and deals.

Between opportunities and risks

Greg, who has two jobs in the industry tech from his home in California and has an annual salary of $ 200,000, struggling to meet multiple deadlines at once. He rejects some meetings that overlap in his calendar and says that "a couple of lies never hurt, as long as you get a good job."

Recently, however, the request for a tag on Linkedin from part of his second employer, would have risked unmasking him. "I told a half truth: I said that because I was being hounded by recruiters I decided to suspend my account," he explains.

For most people, the journey to over-employment begins with a second offer of work and a concrete financial goal. Greg for example wanted to pay off his student loans and buy a house.

As they become accustomed to leading a double, triple or even quadruple professional life, it is tempting for these people to start another job (and maybe yet another) becomes stronger and stronger, even more so with the encouragement of the community. Greg is looking for his third job and is aiming for early retirement, while Abel recognizes how difficult it is not to take other jobs. "If I didn't have children and responsibilities, I would probably be in my seventh job," he says.

From a legal point of view, the situation is not very clear. Most employment contracts have some sort of exclusivity clause, which stipulates that the employee will devote their working hours to employment and not work for other companies, and certainly not for a competitor. "In these circumstances, having a second job would clearly be a breach of the contract - says Beth Hale, partner of the law firm Cm Murray LLp and an expert in labor law -". other full-time employment is not in the employer's best interest, because it is not possible to do more full-time jobs. ”The risk, explains Hale, is to face penalties for misconduct or a dismissal.

An Indian point of view

In India, corporate leaders are already publicly condemning the phenomenon of over-employment. In August Rishad Premji, CEO of the multinational Wipro, called it "a scam," plain and simple, "and in late September his company fired 300 employees because they worked illegally for the competition. Another IT company, Infosys, warned staff in mid-September that he would have risked being fired if he had accepted a second job during and after working hours.

In the absence of comparative data, it is difficult to say whether over-employment is more prevalent in India, or simply whether in the country more number of executives are noticing. Not everyone sees the trend as a bad thing: CEO of IT consulting and services firm Tech Mahindra, C.P. Gurnani says he has no objection to his employees taking second jobs, while Indian startup Swiggy has even introduced a policy that allows workers to accept gig economy jobs and temporary contracts outside of work. >
Marten fears that the spread of the trend could lead to a return to the office on a larger scale. "Over-employment only works in the long run if there is a continuous supply of the expected value. If employers understand this, they are much more likely to turn a blind eye or even approve of it," he says. at the same time more jobs do not realize they are the architect of their own failure, and end up drawing attention not only to themselves, but to everyone ".

This content originally appeared on UK.

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