Are side hustles a win-win for employers and employees?

“I’m a group account manager and I ‘hustle’ as a DJ on the side,” says Jodi Chik, group account manager, DDB Group Hong Kong. “DJing (American House, Acid, Electro and Techno) is my passion and has almost accidentally become something I can benefit from too.”

Chik loves that her agency, DDB Hong Kong, is so supportive of her, so much so that with frequent office parties, she’s even become a regular “client.”

“I personally think our industry, more than most, would understand the need for people to pursue other creative passions,” Chik says. “And I think it’s good for the agency too. Being able to be a DJ makes me happier and operating in this other world gives me interesting and new perspectives, and I think that just helps me in my job. daily.”

Chik isn’t the only one pursuing a side business in addition to her full-time job. Globally and across Asia, secondary unrest has become commonplace. According to a 2017 survey, 54% of Singaporeans have a side job, and earlier this year the Japanese government’s health ministry even recommended companies in Japan allow employees to have a “side job”.

Yosuke Nakamura, human resources manager at TBWA\Hakuhodo in Japan, welcomes the government’s policy on parallel jobs. “We believe this forward-looking decision – allowing employees to have side jobs and providing them with a safe environment to challenge themselves for personal growth – will continue to add value to employees, to the agency and ultimately society,” Nakamura says.

TBWA isn’t the only agency celebrating side hustles. Media.Monks even has a name for their side-hustlers called “Punk.Monks”, and every week they celebrate them by selecting a monk to share their hustler side with the 9000+ monks worldwide via Slack.

“It’s an amazing way to get to know people beyond their job title and celebrate their creative endeavors and passions,” said Rogier Bikker, Managing Director of Media.Monks China. “We may be a digital-focused agency, but we’re not machines! »

And Bikker admits that in addition to being the general manager of Media.Monks China, he also has a side business. “On the weekends and with friends, I run Highlite, a brand of zero-calorie sparkling tea. So when I’m not running the agency, I make tea. Of course, the Media.Monks fridge is stocked with our latest flavors!”

Fired for holding two jobs

While side hustles are increasingly accepted and even supported by employers, not everyone agrees with them, especially when lines become blurred, loyalties are tested and conflicts of interest arise.

Last month Wipro, an Indian IT multinational, laid off 300 of its employees after it was discovered they were working with one of its competitors at the same time. Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji said, “There is no place for someone to work for Wipro and its competitor XYZ and they would feel exactly the same if they found out about the same situation.”

Ajit Narayan, CMO of branding platform, Socxo, believes employees should switch to contract work if they want to work multiple jobs.

“Secondary hustles are not okay if you’re a full-time employee,” Narayan says. “If money, exposure, or learning is what you’re looking for, you should join a company as a contract worker, not a full-time employee. The buck stops there. Work with more than one company at the same time is unethical. Unless the employment contract allows it for the same thing. Otherwise, it’s a jungle, and anyone can do anything .

However, absent any conflict of interest with the agency or clients, Chris Gurney, Group Creative Director, Virtue APAC, believes that supporting side business is a win on all fronts, both for the agency only for employees.

“Perhaps we should rethink the name ‘side hustle’ because it conjures up certain negative associations and the naïve assumption that side hustle occurs at the expense of full-time jobs,” says Gurney. “We strongly believe that side hustles help us, as creative individuals, do our jobs better.”

Can you successfully juggle a full-time job and a side hustle?

Joash Thum, Creative Director of VCCP Singapore, teamed up with a friend in 2021 to launch a clothing line, möbius mise, which has since grown into a design studio and they now run several clothing brands like AHD, Peace Artwork and more, and even recently featured in Vogue Singapore.

“It’s definitely not easy to have a full-time job and be part of a growing company,” says Thum. “But with the help of my business partners and brilliant VCCP colleagues, I am able to manage both sides with the more than occasional sacrifice of sleep and a social life.”

Juggling a full-time job while working on a side hustle requires excellent time management and clear boundaries, says Nina Kong, chief strategy officer at Media.Monks China, who, along with partner hustle, founded South Bund , a designer of bespoke women’s suits. .

“I would say the key consideration is time management, because it’s easy to accidentally prioritize passion projects over your work, especially if your hustle relies heavily on social content production and planning,” Kong says. “There should be clear boundaries – for example, only check your Instagram activity after work, and don’t do it first thing in the morning, lest you get sucked into something that affects the start of your life. working day.

Shouldn’t a full-time job be enough?

Although side hustles clearly offer benefits, some critics say people wouldn’t need to take on second jobs if their full-time job paid more and gave more satisfaction.

“Do you remember when people made enough on one income to raise a family of four without the need for credit cards or hustling?” Asked one user in a reply to a Linkedin thread about side hustle. “I recognize that many people are struggling to make money, save money or pay off debt, so we welcome the recurring burnout that we are seeing widely across all industries.”

But for many who have side hustles, the positives still outweigh the negatives. Marilyn Yeong, who in addition to being Regional Vice President of Customers at Assembly, also owns and operates one of Singapore’s largest e-commerce stores for dance equipment and dancewear, believes it is important to have something outside of work that keeps us motivated and inspired, which helps us stay motivated in our full-time jobs and promotes better mental health.

“As someone who actively runs a side gig, I also see the benefits it brings to my role at Assembly,” Yeong says. “My side hustle constantly puts me in my entrepreneurial mode, training my mind to think like a business owner, giving me a deeper understanding of our customers’ perspective.”

But Yeong also admits that it’s not always easy to take on two gigs. “Time management is always the biggest challenge – 24 hours a day just isn’t enough,” Yeong says. “It’s times like these when having the right priorities is extremely important and your heart needs to be in the right place. And that starts with mutual trust – the employer is convinced that the employee has to the best interests of the company while the employee must respect the freedom given to them to pursue their goals outside of work.

Side hustles: a win-win for employees and employers?

Tim Wood, Executive Creative Director, Australia, Media.Monks, fully supports side hustles. “For starters, they’re a great creative outlet. Plus, they can also help people understand the complexities and nuances of trying to run a business.”

Having led teams for a decade, Wood says it’s easy to tell when someone is distracted by external factors, but in his experience it’s rarely caused by someone’s sideways fuss. “Worst-case scenario, a secondary hustle takes off and you lose a good employee. But what a great outcome for them! You couldn’t be happy for someone unless that happened.”

And Publicis Groupe also allows and absolutely supports its staff having hustles. “We’ve noticed a shift in cultural and employee dynamics where more and more people value how work aligns with their wants and needs in life, rather than the other way around,” says Pauly Grant, Chief Talent Officer of Publicis. Band. “Therefore, as an employer, rather than focusing on creating a great employee experience, we aim to encourage and support a truly rewarding life experience. Publicis is full of passionate scammers… I love hearing that we have secret rockstars, artists, and influencers among us.”

One such creative hustler is Tom McMullan, creative director at Digitas ANZ, whose side business produces and presents a horror film exposition therapy podcast called “Spooko”. McMullan is such a big believer in side hustles that he doesn’t 100% trust creatives who don’t have some sort of creative hobby that they actively pursue outside of their day job.

“Most creatives I know like to do things just for fun, rather than always responding to a brief with pre-determined outcomes and KPIs. For me, that’s where side hustles are crucial,” McMullan says. . “The best part about it is that creating outside of work provides more inspiration at work! interested in podcasting, making me a better presenter and storyteller, my side hustle makes me a better creative director.”

And Andreas Krasser, CEO of DDB Group Hong Kong, believes times have changed and agency leaders should support side-hustle.

“I’ve heard from many quarters that some agency executives apparently disapprove of these hustles, expecting their staff to be fully dedicated to agency work,” Krasser says. “I do think, however, that we as an industry as a whole need to recognize that times have changed, and that pet projects and side hustle can also increase creativity and productivity in the workplace. This is also why I not only encourage, but even promote We regularly publish through our own channels the most inspiring and interesting side projects of our collaborators.

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