I have a feeling my telecommuter - who is a terrific employee - might be working for another company using our equipment. What should I do?
This is an updated version of the old "moonlighting" problem - in fact,
one writer referred to it as "sunlighting" because it takes place during
Your response to this must be handled properly, and you might want to
consult with your Human Resources staff for assistance. First, ask
yourself what evidence or indication you have that the problem exists; if
you are not convinced and don't have any proof, you might be better off not
mentioning it. Second, check to see what your organization's policy is on
outside employment; it's not uncommon for people to have second jobs, but
there are usually restrictions on what kind of work they do or who employs
them. Last, deal with the telecommuter as you would any other employee
with a performance problem; state your concern directly and factually,
express your dissatisfaction and inform the employee about possible
consequences, then get the employee involved in the discussion.
Performance problems of any kind are more likely to get solved and stay
solved if the employee is part of the solution. Managers who impose a
solution or who manage by threat or edict may get short-term compliance,
but may also lose the employee's long-term commitment.
NOTE: A visitor to the site had an interesting reaction to this answer.
Here's what he wrote:
"This appears to be a "conduct problem" rather than a "performance
problem." You've suggested that the employee's job performance is
satisfactory (a terrific employee) but the problem is in fact the
employee's conduct of using company equipment and working for another
employer. This should be handled as a violation of company policy which
should have been made clear up front and perhaps as a condition of
employment. Depending on how seriously the employer considers the conduct,
an appropriate response should be taken, up to and including dismissal
(assuming that sufficient evidence is found). Conduct problems are not
usually handled in the same way as performance problems. Your response in
this case is an excellent recommendation for a performance problem but not
as appropriate for conduct."
Robert N. Claxton, Ph.D.
Tennessee Department of Personnel