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Moonlighting and the Future of Work

Times have been tough since COVID-19 hit and we’ve been in lockdown ever since.

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The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; Jolanta Opiola;Paula Dunn
The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; Jolanta Opiola;Paula Dunn

2020 was supposed to be the year! You know the year that was going to define you? It seemed like such a powerful number but unfortunately it became the defining moment in all our lives and not in a good way.

Truth be told. Everything I have been building up to has crumbled.  The schools are in panic mode trying to get their students online and ensuring that the academic year is not disrupted too much.  Then there are the higher education systems like our Universities dealing with the fall out of International Students having to return to their Countries. 

I’ve had friends who’s had stable jobs and have dedicated their whole lives to their industry and in 1 day be given notice because their company has been hit financially.  Now we’re all on Job-keeper and Job-seeker trying to figure out our next moves.

So what’s in store with the future of work?

Having come from the Pharmaceutical Industry myself I’ve had to think long and hard about my immediate and future reality and whether I should enter back into the corporate world or remain fighting hard?  Being part of the essential work force in medical research and having over 20 years of clinical research experience. It made sense to me to come back and use my experience and expertise where I’m vitally needed NOW. It’s the right thing to do!

In addition having acquired 4 years of entrepreneurship, business start up experience, which is one of the most uncertain and chaotic careers one could ever have embarked upon.  I thought, these skills and insights would be a great asset to have on the team. Adds a new flavour to the mix of skills and experience. To help the team create calm from chaos.

Plus being an entrepreneur we know how hard it is to make a dollar. The time, effort and hustle each day and the financial returns are never what the effort is. So I have a new found respect for large organisations to have thrived and grown, especially those that have been around for over 50 years what an amazing accomplishment. I now understand the complexity of business and what it takes to keep it alive.

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered since sniffing around the return to corporate life, is a term called “Moonlighting”.  I had to look it up, when a recruiter told me that “moonlighting” wasn’t an option for me.  It means you can’t have a second job.  Normally I’d agree and who wants to have a second job anyway?  Give me a quality of life any day. But in these uncertain times doesn’t it make sense to diversify one’s revenue streams? Can a corporate employer guarantee my job security for the next 20 years? Of course not!

Financial Advisers will tell you to diversify and not put your eggs into one basket.  So they’ll recommend you invest in Local and International Shares, Real Estate, Superannuation and other assets. 

Then I got to thinking, what if I was a Mum? (I’m not having a dig at motherhood, high five to you all) just using it as a metaphor. Is that not moonlighting?  It is a second albeit, full-time job and an unpaid one at that? If little Johnny got sick you’d have to drop everything and run out the door. Right? Or would you say to the childcare worker, “sorry you’ll have to play nurse till I finish work at 6pm.” Then the Mummy Guilt sets in right?

Obviously there’s discrimination laws against parenthood, but I’m calling it out.  Only because I choose not have children and instead wanted to fuel my mind and time with other social enterprises besides just going from work-home-work Monday-Friday. 

Having a side gig gives you the option to compartmentalise your life.  Have designated working hours for your full time job as well as your side/second income earning job.  That’s why we have things like automation, chat bots, AI, and other technologies. And if used correctly you can let it work for you and you don’t even have to get involved at a grass roots level. Welcome to Passive Income.

I think we as global citizens and entrepreneurs should not be discriminated against if we want to pursue a side gig? Obviously if your side gig is more of a full time gig, then don’t be greedy and just break those corporate apron strings, grow a pair and go it alone. 

Why not?  If it doesn’t impact your employer then why can’t we have a creative outlet that gives us some extra cash too? If you are still not convinced:

Here are some Benefits to having a side gig:

  1. Releases Creativity and Innovation – I’ve found the more I diversify what I’m doing the more creative and innovative I become, which is a win-win for myself and the organisations in which I work for.
  2. Decreases Stress and Anxiety – When you have a little pet project it becomes about helping and making a difference to others but you actually are responsible for 100% of it.
  3. Creates Confidence and Courage in one’s own abilities – It’s up to you to make it work, so you pull on all your insights which will boost confidence.
  4. Amplifies Resilience, Grit and you learn how to fail fast without taking it too personally….. NEXT!
  5. Fosters Collaboration, Team Work and Communication – If your messaging is off, then you won’t attract your customer. So communication is KING!
  6. Creates Security and Stability – Why? Because you won’t get bored in your job and start chasing the new opportunity elsewhere.
  7. Fosters Continuous Personal and Professional Development – If you’re anything like me, I love learning something new to help me grow.
  8. Improves Time Management – Have you ever heard of Parksinson’s Law? Look it up.
  9. Enhances Problem Solving and Critical Thinking skills – Starting up a business is up to you. You do everything, trial and error to figure things out.
  10. Fosters Entrepreneurial Mindset – Isn’t that what the future of work is moving towards? Creating Intrapreneurs, evolution on current processes with fresh approach.

Sure there are many degrees, micro-credentialing and courses out there one can do to develop these important skill-sets to maintain relevance for the future of work.  But nothing develops and fast tracks your skills better than actually “Doing it” yourself. Just ask Richard Branson did he have a playbook? I think not.

I believe it’s an employees expectation and respect to your employer to tell them that you have a side hustle. That way you can both set the terms and conditions of your contract. It then gives you both a sense of security that you both know where each other stands on the subject and minimises the fear or threat of you picking up and leaving if business takes off.

So the next time an employer says to you “No Moonlighting” and not willing to see the benefits to its business and people perhaps they’re not the brand you want to align with. Perhaps they’re not the right cultural fit for your innovation and insights. It’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just great to know where you stand. It’s like dating a guy for years and not knowing whether he wants to get married and have kids. You never ask, you never get and you both leave disheartened, disillusioned and disappointed.

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