Side Hustle – Working Smart or Stealing Company’s Time?

 Side Hustle – Working Smart or Stealing Company’s Time?

When making money is all that matters_notes

In a place like Nigeria, there is emphasis on the need for multiple streams of income; particularly in an economy that has poor living standards, and the government of the day is unable to provide common infrastructure for citizens. Failure to have a side hustle would mean you are ‘dulling yourself’, or you are a learner.

People have to think of generating their own electricity, pumping their own potable water, providing their own security, etc. Hence the need for the working man or woman to have an extra or side ‘hustle’ in order to meet the many demands and costs that accrue on a daily basis.

However, businesses in Nigeria are also faced with the challenges stated above. If a company employs you to increase its productivity, can it ever be right to steal company resources (e.g.: time) because you want to accommodate your side hustle? My honest answer would be NO.

While it may be possible that you are blessed with a second job, it is not advisable to bring work from a second place of employment (or a side hustle) into your primary place of employment. Think of it this way: Would your employer smile at you if they found out that you carry out non-business-related activities while you are at the office? Most employee handbooks are quite clear on things like this, so you might want to consult one to be sure.

Even if the employee handbook does not state this point categorically, you must know that it is unethical to do so. And this holds true even when the side job is not a threat or competitor to your primary place of work. For example, if a radiographer works at a hospital from 8am to 4pm, and then he works on the side as a gourmet chef three times a week, at an exclusive restaurant, it would be unethical to discuss or make plans relating to the restaurant business while his shift at the hospital is still on. This amounts to stealing time from the hospital; and it doesn’t matter that he had some down time and was thus ‘free’.

The same goes for looking for work online during office hours, or even on the office internet.

Many job seekers frequently check employment classifieds and job-aggregator websites on the computer throughout the day so that they are first when applying to new vacancies and openings

This kind of activity is wrong because it makes you look as if you are not loyal to your company.

The internet and social media can be a huge distraction to many adults, even long phone calls can become an obsession too. If you have ever had to wait for several minutes to be attended to by a worker, simply because he/she was too engrossed with a phone call, then you must get my drift.

How about getting to the office before resumption time so you can use the office internet – because they are connected to a provider that is very fast, with unlimited bandwidth – for some personal runs before your colleagues arrive? This is not bad, abi? After all, you are entitled to some ‘benefits’ since you work there. And besides, why let all that unlimited data waste?

It may not quite be the way you think

Especially if you do this frequently. The data is a resource, and it is paid for and belongs to the company.

Sometimes the line between being smart and stealing company time might seem blurred, but it is unethical because it involves getting paid for work which you haven’t actually done, or time which you actually didn’t put into the company’s work. It most often also involves some level of dishonesty – to self and to your employer. In some countries it is seen as a criminal offence to steal time from a company.

The criminal angle may not be applicable in most countries, but it is understandable when one looks at the effects of stealing company time. It includes reduced productivity, constant failure to meet targets or deadlines, loss of profit, drop in standards over time.

Here are a few things you can do to avoid stealing company time:

  1. Avoid running personal errands on company time (no rushing into the market or shops after lunch break).
  2. Avoid searching for work online, while at work.
  3. Seek permission from your superior to go attend to pressing personal matters.
  4. Offer to work for a few hours later to make up for lost hours


The points above may not hold in totality if the organization’s policy supports such.


Remember, ethics is about what you do when no one is watching.



Iquo DianaAbasi


About The Author

Iquo DianaAbasi is a graduate of industrial relations and personnel management with over a decade’s experience in administration and corporate communications. She was once executive secretary and head, corporate communications with Aart of Life Foundation, Lagos. She also partook in several projects involving communication for change, with the African Radio Drama Association between 2011 and 2019. She has carried out admin and editorial functions for online magazine’s such as, and

As an author, she has published two books (fiction and poetry) and has earned acclaim for being shortlisted for several awards including the NLNG Nigeria Literature Prize and the Wole Soyinka prize.

Iquo is a member of the Institute of strategic management, Nigeria. She is also a member of the Women Writers association of Nigeria, WRITA, and The Association of Nigerian Authors, where she is presently the Chairperson of the Lagos Chapter.

She is passionate about spreading the message of renewable energy in Nigeria, and believes Nebula will be the perfect platform with which to engage prospective converts in the ongoing battle for a healthier ecosystem.



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