Working Two Remote Jobs Secretly Shouldn’t Worry Bosses

Working Two Remote Jobs Secretly Shouldn’t Worry Bosses

Some Americans are secretly working multiple remote jobs.We asked four workplace experts whether this is legal and a big problem for businesses.Bosses should ask themselves why their employees might be double-dipping.

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One of your co-workers could be secretly working multiple remote jobs to boost their finances.Roughly 5% of workers in a typical organization have two full-time jobs concurrently, according to a new McKinsey report that surveyed over 15,000 workers across seven countries, including the US, between last November and January. McKinsey called the trend a “growing phenomenon” that’s been driven, in part, by more remote workers taking on a second remote job, likely without their employer’s knowledge.Critics say these workers are cheating their employers and providing more fuel for the return-to-office movement. Proponents say the trend is a symptom of broader problems in the US, like low wages and high cost of living, and that it’s not an issue as long as workers’ job performance remains strong. Workplace experts told Insider that as long as workers are successfully juggling both jobs, their bosses should consider cutting them some slack.While double-dipping jobs can transform a worker’s finances, the trend is also contributing to an increase in “time theft,” or being paid to work for one company when really doing work for another, said David Barron, a Texas-based labor and employment attorney with the law firm Cozen O’Connor.”This problem exploded with the rise of working from home during the pandemic and the flexibility allowed by many employers,” he said. “The concern is employees diverting time and resources away from their primary employer for the benefit of another job.”Barron said that most workers don’t have employment agreements that explicitly prohibit them from working second jobs. But holding two remote jobs could breach some employment contracts and lead to job termination. It’s already happened to some workers who’ve been found out, including at least two dozen at the credit-reporting giant Equifax last year.Two jobs may not be a problem unless an employee’s work suffersMany employers expect their workers to be focused on their jobs for 40-plus hours per week, Aaron De Smet, a McKinsey senior partner and a co-author of the report, told Insider. But bosses should be more focused on the quality of work rather than the number of hours employees put in, he added.”Some people have found ways to get all the work done in 20 to 30 hours rather than 40, and don’t mind working 40- to 60-hour weeks across two jobs,” he said. “I’m not sure an employer needs to own more of their time.”Jennifer Moss, a workplace culture expert and author of the book “The Burnout Epidemic,” echoed De Smet and said that side hustles only become a problem when workers aren’t meeting their goals. “As long as those objectives are being met, then we have to ask ourselves, ‘Does it really matter?'”For example, one Gen Xer told Insider that he was able to squeeze the work from three full-time remote jobs into roughly 40 hours per week. As of May, he was earning $344,000 per year from his combined jobs.De Smet said that working longer hours doesn’t always result in more productivity either.”Some employees, when forced to work a certain amount of time, just take more time to do the same work, or use the extra time to send unnecessary emails, join meetings unnecessarily, get involved in others’ efforts,” he said.Companies should ask why their workers are double-dipping if it becomes a problemTo be sure, double-dipping remains rare — the share of multiple jobholders in the US isn’t considerably higher than historical norms. But it could become more popular as the remote work revolution provides additional opportunities for Americans to take on more work.When an employee with multiple jobs is unable to give the extra attention or effort necessary to their main role, this becomes a problem for businesses, De Smet said.In response, some companies have tightened their policies and included additional disclosure and approval requirements to discourage double-dipping, Barron said.In addition to tweaking policies, Moss said that employers should consider what is driving their employees to seek out another job, whether it be low pay, a lack of meaningful work, or too much time on their hands.”Make sure that workload is manageable — we don’t want workers burned out,” she said. “But underwork can be soul-sucking. If we’ve built up our skills and they’re not being utilized, we’ll seek out new opportunities.”Companies should scrutinize workers’ responsibilities to ensure they stay busy, Nicole Coomber, a clinical professor in management & organization at the University of Maryland, told Insider.”Clearly, if people can work multiple jobs at the same time, then I need to redefine their role to be more rigorous,” she said.While some double-dippers may be trying to simply cheat their employers, De Smet said businesses shouldn’t be too quick to judge.”As long as employees are not violating their employment contract, bosses should treat these employees with an open mind and avoid treating them as inherently bad or toxic members of the organization,” he said. “A number of them may be double dipping out of necessity — their salaries are not sufficient to support their families.”Are you working multiple remote jobs at the same time and willing to discuss details about your pay and schedule? If so, reach out to this reporter at [email protected].

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