Moonlighting strangers: Remote software engineers work two jobs
An increasing number of mid-career software engineers are two timing their employees by taking on two full time jobs and delivering what is required of them, but no more.
While the idea of moonlighting is nothing new, since the escalation of remote work following the pandemic, demand for programmers and developers has far exceeded supply.
One survey by market intelligence firm IDC found that in the US, there will be a shortfall of four million developers by 2025 – while the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that almost 200,000 developer jobs will need filling each year through the end of the decade.
It’s a situation which has led to some techies taking on two remote full time positions.
The Economist, which reported on this trend last week, noted that many software engineers work remotely – so there’s no physical looking-over-the-shoulders going on, to check whether managers are passing.
So-called ‘two timers’ also tend to take on more junior positions so that they can “under promise and overdeliver” with minimal effort.
The publication spoke to one anonymous tech worker, who explained their reasons for doing it.
The data scientist was working at a medium-sized tech firm when they took on a second job working in data engineering at a start up “out of boredom and concerns over job security”.
While the worker had no desire to take on more responsibility, they were happy to take on more of the same type of work, if they could double their pay and build a nest egg in the event that they were ever laid off.
Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned for employers and recruitment agencies here: there are a cluster of talented, capable tech workers willing to take on a huge volume of work which is reflected in their wages – so long as they are not given additional managerial responsibilities that fall outside their immediate skill sets.
On social media site Reddit there’s a forum dedicated to ‘overemployed’ two timers – some of whom claim to have taken two meetings at once, with the video off.
If called upon to speak at the same time, connectivity issues were often cited as a reason to duck out of one of the meetings. Members on the forum are also swapping tips on managing job references and tax codes.
Two timers have also admitted to using chatbots such as Google’s AI Bard or Chat-GPT to save time – by helping to structure computer code, write documents and even conduct preliminary research.
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