The Moonlighting debate: Why aren’t we asking the right questions?

To moonlight or not to moonlight.

To moonlight or not to moonlight.

Well, let me tell you one little secret – a lot of great startups that you see today are a result of somebody moonlighting at their job.

While we debate on whether moonlighting is good idea or not, here is something we need to understand.

That this entire debate is a reminder of changing nature of work, especially the employer-employee relationship.

Here is what’s happening:

  • Companies expect employees to work N number of hours per day and dedicate their lives to the company. This of course is expected keeping in mind the fact that businesses need focus and distracted teams never succeed.
  • Employees, after tasting the WFH life and the freedom associated with it aren’t too willing to let go of their freedom. During WFH era, they were working on various side-gigs- and the startup boom just added to the frenzy (the belief that ‘let’s work on my own startup idea and become a unicorn 🦄’).

    So now, they expect perks of a ‘devoted’ life, but want to have their freedom.

    And obviously, companies are under pressure to show $$ numbers and believe that work from office, cutting down the moonlighting work will help improve productivity and focus.

There is nothing to judge here. If you are saying – companies are wrong or employees are wrong, you are missing the big picture 👇

Under the hood: What’s really happening?

Well, the employer employee relationship is changing. Pre covid, it was a one upmanship – when the times were good, employee had the upper hand, would demand any salary/perks. When the times were bad, companies had the upper hand – they will have crazy demands.

But now, the world of work has changed or is changing. There seems to be an equilibrium between employer and employees. And none of the parties are willing to admit it.

Employees still want the freedom of WFH, yet want all the perks of a well-paid job.
Companies want 100% devotion – but at their terms and conditions.

That is, none of the parties are willing to give up the control, which is also a function of lack of trust on both the sides.

The way forward.

A new wave of working professionals was born during covid times – they actually seem to ‘have a life’.

  • They are right now doing what is called quiet quitting, i.e. doing just the exact amount of work needed to survive the job
  • They have their own creative life outside the office – maybe in earthverse or in metaverse, we don’t know.

Smart, agile companies will soon adapt to this changing work environment. Here is how I see things will pan out in the next few years.

  • Most companies will have lesser number of full-time employees, esp junior level
  • A lot of transactional work will happen remote / with WFA (Work from Anywhere) teams who, will work on project / contract basis.
  • Talent will compete at a global level, especially at junior – mid-level roles for WFA roles. That is, skills will win over degrees.

What does all this mean? Will we have fewer great businesses coming out, because we have very few passionate, hustling teams?

I don’t think so. There will always be a set of red eyed individuals who will tap into the new opportunities and companies are better off, knowing the difference between the ones who are passionate (have them as full timers) vs. the ones who just want to do 9-6 jobs (have them as freelancers).

The race is on to find the balance.

The truth is that the future of work has arrived, but in a completely different package than what we expected it to!

Ashish Sinha.

What’s your take?

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