Many tech companies were fully remote before the pandemic, but the burgeoning Reddit community r/Overemployed, a community of 92,300 members that fields advice and tips on how to juggle jobs without anyone noticing, shows how workers freed from their offices are able to operate under the radar.
Marten runs a weekly advice session on the community’s Discord channel to help people “optimize their earning potential,” but doesn’t believe there are that many people actually working multiple remote jobs. “I’d venture to say that for every 100 people interested in doing it, only 20 are capable of pulling it off, and of that number, only half actually do,” says Marten, who is also US-based. He is one of them. Marten works a 70-hour week and earns between $150,000 and $220,000 a month as a senior management consultant focusing on strategy and deals, and has worked on contracts in Big Tech, finance, and auditing during his 15 years of overemployment.
Greg, who is doing two tech jobs from his home in California and earns an annual salary of $200,000, feels the crunch when he’s working toward several deadlines simultaneously. He deals with diary clashes by refusing certain meetings, saying that “a couple of lies never hurt them, provided they get good work.”
Recently though, his second job asked to tag him in a LinkedIn post—which would, of course, have alerted his first job to his predicament. “I told them a doctored truth, that I was getting hounded by recruiters, so I decided to hibernate my account,” Greg explains. “I expect these clashes will continue because the work culture in the United States is a death cult. I just have to suck it up until I can retire.”
Most people’s overemployed journeys begin with a second job offer and a concrete financial goal. Greg wanted to pay off his student loans and fund home ownership, and takes pride in the fact that he’s no longer living paycheck to paycheck. Abel wanted to save four months’ salary as a downpayment for his home. As they get the hang of leading double, triple, and even quadruple professional lives, temptation to take on another (and maybe another) grows in potency, particularly with encouragement from the community. Greg is looking for his third role, and has his eye on early retirement, while Abel recognizes how hard it is to not just keep taking jobs. “If I had no kids and no responsibilities, I’d probably be on job seven,” he says.
From a legal point of view, it’s a little murky. Most employment contracts will have some sort of exclusivity provision, which outlines that the employee will dedicate their working hours to the job and won’t work for someone else, and certainly not a competitor. “Having a second job in those circumstances would clearly be in breach of contract,” says Beth Hale, a partner at law firm CM Murray LLP who specializes in employment law. “But there’s a good argument to say that even without any clauses in a contract, working simultaneously on another full-time role is not acting in the best interests of your employer, because you can’t possibly do multiple full-time jobs, can you?”