As with many agencies — and especially development agencies — you might be approached and asked to do side work outside of Differential. Here's how we expect you to handle those opportunities as they come up. When in doubt, ask HR.
What is Side Work?
Side work can come in many forms, but in general it is anything for which you are using your skills and talents that doesn't directly benefit the company. Side work will take some of your time, attention, and talents away from Differential.
Some examples of side work include:
- Entrepreneurial or Passion Projects – These can be something you are passionate about, but there isn't an opportunity to bring that inside of Differential (i.e. blogging, writing a book, remodeling a house, creating a company or business on the side).
- Community and Charity Projects – These benefit the community at large, may indirectly benefit Differential, but are not directly supported by Differential (i.e. being a board member of a non-profit, mentoring and assisting entrepreneurial organizations, running meetups and groups).
- Personal Improvement Projects – These are specific projects that are targeted at growing the individual in a specific area of their life (i.e. taking classes to get a master's or an MBA, learning web development or design if you are a business development person).
- Freelance Projects – As individuals with skills in demand, freelance projects might allow people to help a friend out while making extra money. This has the biggest potential conflict of interest in regards to Differential (i.e. getting paid to build or design a website or app).
Who qualifies for side work (specifically freelance projects)?
We actually highly encourage taking part in passion, community, or personal-improvement projects. They provide benefits to individuals, and in many cases those benefits carry through to Differential. Freelance work, however, is a bit different. While anyone can technically take on side work, the expectations would be that they are reserved for the more senior employees of Differential. If you are not at the top of your Career Path, there should be enough growth opportunities at Differential to keep your full attention.
What are the expectations if you engage in side work?
- Other than your family, Differential must remain you first priority and main focus to be a full-time employee. You have to be willing to let deadlines slip on your side projects.
- Client work comes first.
- Side work shouldn't interfere with getting your work done. This means that if a client project is behind schedule, side work would not be viewed as acceptable. Because of the collaborative team environment and culture we have, we also expect that you would be willing to help out your teammates if they are behind or struggling in other projects, before looking outside of Differential.
- It is your responsibility to bring side work up to HR.
- While you might have a great deal of excitement about your side project, conversations about side projects should be kept to a minimum during work hours (just be thoughtful about appropriate times to share with your co-workers).
- For freelance projects, they should first be brought to Differential for evaluation and require sign-off from HR that the project wouldn't be something Differential would take on.
Who You Should Talk To
Talk about it with HR to ensure there isn't a conflict of interest and to let them know about the side work. This conversation should take place as soon as possible (ideally before you take on a side project).
This policy may change in the future as we evaluate if side projects interfere with the business in a meaningful way. We are taking the approach of treating everyone as adults who can make good decisions about what is acceptable and unacceptable related to side projects. We believe we have an incredibly free and flexible culture, and would like to continue that in the future.