Employee Moonlighting and Remote Workforce

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The traditional work infrastructure of employees working in a confined environment for 9 to 5 seems to vanish rapidly. More and more companies are adopting remote or hybrid work structures to extend flexibility and save costs. However, there are a few disadvantages. Recently numerous companies identified a novel issue of employee moonlighting.

Let us understand the problems in detail and discuss some probable solutions for the same.

Employee Moonlighting Explained

Dual employment during work from home

One of the definitions in the Cambridge dictionary says that Moonlighting means’ paid work that you do in addition to your regular job, especially without telling your employer. This wasn’t easy to achieve earlier as people spent significant time doing their primary jobs, including commuting to the workplace. 

Moonlighting became popular when remote or hybrid work infrastructures became widespread, and employees realized they had some extra time and could earn extra bucks using that time. This phenomenon is known as moonlighting in slang because employees work during nights against the policy of their work agreements.

Moonlighting Employment Law and Policy

Moonlighting across the globe is impacting organizations. Countries like the USA have laws prohibiting employers from taking adverse action against employees working outside for another employer if the working hours, absence of direct competition, and doesn’t interfere with the employee’s capability to perform duty associated with the primary employment. 

However, if the primary job agreement specifically prohibits secondary employment of any kind, the law and its implications change. Companies are carefully designing their work agreements to ensure that the employees are completely engaged in their jobs and do not engage in secondary employment.

How MoonLighting Emerged as a Burning Issue Recently

Industry experts suggest that employee moonlighting has been there for a long time. However, the concept gained more popularity after the pandemic’s emergence, and more people and firms turned to remote work. Earlier organized sector workforce like IT had to work from a definite place for specific hours, and this entire workforce was allowed to work from home and utilized the extra time to earn some extra income. Now moonlighting in the IT sector is a significant problem.

The corporate community took a while to realize that one of the reasons behind the compromised productivity of remote workers is that they are dividing their working time and knowledge between alternative commitments. Industry leaders and decision-makers started discussing the same and initiating discussions to eliminate the issue.

Impact of Dual Employment on The Future of Work

What is moonlighting and if it's legal in India

Employee Moonlighting has become a primary concern for organizations as it has become challenging to identify and control. These are some of the most significant adverse impacts of moonlighting.

• Reduced Productivity

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Obviously, if a person tries to focus on multiple fronts simultaneously, the result may be less effective than it is. Hence, one major problem of moonlighting is that the workers exhibit lower productivity for their regular jobs. Consequently, a careless attitude, fatigue, and lack of focus are perfect recipes for creating a less productive work environment.

• Data and Information Security

Employees engaging in moonlighting sometimes share sensitive and privileged information and data with outside entities. The workers are using their core skills to create a parallel income, and they end up compromising the data security of their employer. Hence their financial gain leads to a catastrophic situation for any organization.

• Unfair Advantage to Competition

In the process of moonlighting, employees are bound to come across outside work groups or organizations working in the same line of business as their primary employers. The data and information shared by the employees can damage the intellectual infrastructure of a firm, and the competitors can use this information and exploit the situation to their advantage.

• Slower Professional Growth

Employees engaging in moonlighting shows less motivation to learn and progress in their primary jobs. The lack of interest does impact their performance and leads to poor performance evaluation. Consequently, such employees get in a loop of mediocre progression and financial growth.

• Compromised Work Life Balance

If we keep the monetary gain on the side, moonlighting impacts the employees’ personal lives. While juggling between jobs, people often miss out on important life events and family time. Money is necessary but spending time with your dear ones is equally important.

• Withdrawal of Flexible Work Arrangements

Remote and hybrid work arrangements have been a boon for millions of employees across the globe. Owing to the unethical actions of a few, a larger workforce comes under scrutiny, and management gets compelled to take harsh steps. Because of the employee moonlighting issue, many companies are considering discontinuing remote and hybrid work in their workplaces.

Strategies to Deal with Moonlighting

Enforcing ethical behavior is a challenging task to achieve. But having a robust strategy to prevent moonlighting is possible.

• Formulate a Clear Non-Compete Agreement

The first line of defense is essential. Companies should include an explicit non-compete clause in their work agreements. This way, they will discourage dual employment during work from home with their competition in a lawful manner. Including a non-compete clause does invite legal implications for employees if they fail to adhere. Hence the fear of getting caught can be a factor that they consider before indulging in moonlighting.

• Use Employee Monitoring Tools

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A remote workforce is hard to manage, so innovative employee monitoring software like RemoteDesk is useful. Employers can easily monitor attendance adherence, cyber security threats, and productivity monitoring of their employees. Such tools like RemoteDesk have Artificial Intelligence power, making them great for employee activity monitoring software monitoring and productivity tracking tool.

• Respect and Allow Hobbies and Passion-Oriented Activities

Employers must draw a clear differential between the workforce’s alternate commitments. For example, if an employee wants to pursue a stand-up comedy career in his free time and this career gives them remuneration, this should be fine. Someone with a keen interest in Yoga who wants to invest time in learning and teach the same during personal hours does not come under the umbrella definition of unethical dual employment. Discretion is the key to having a balanced approach to the issue of moonlighting.

• Set Guidelines and Politely Communicate Consequences Repeatedly

Even though employees know the wrongfulness of moonlighting, the temptation may lead them to pursue dual employment. Companies must reiterate again and again their moonlighting policy and make the workforce aware of the implications of the same. Communication should happen politely, and employees should receive education about the adversities of the same.

Strategies to Deal with Moonlighting

In the short run, having a side hustle for extra money is a good proposition for employees. But if one reason, divided attention in work can compromise productivity. Having moderate productivity means progress in the workplace will be slower. Slower progress on the work front can lead to a lousy reputation in the industry and eventually ending up with a career that doesn’t help you get the recognition you deserve. So, if companies struggle with employee moonlighting due to productivity monitoring and security issues, this can also damage the employees. Hence, employees must choose a balanced, ethical, and focused path for financial and professional long-lasting success. On the other hand, companies should never put their guard down and land into dealing with a complacent work environment.

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