In recent post Andy Rutledge writes:
I’m talking specifically about actively displaying clearly conflicting loyalties in our professional practice; e.g.: being employed by XYZ Corp. as a Web designer and operating and promoting one’s own Acme Designz on the side. This practice smacks of irresponsibility and non-commitment. It reflects poorly on both the individual and the agency that employs him. Yet this is not an uncommon practice, even among otherwise respected and highly visible designers. Why?
I must say the article got me thinking. And as much as i’m hearing most of Andy’s arguments, and i actually agree with the perception side of the issue, i can’t help but wonder..
Firstly, a lot of webdesigners have freelance background – freelancers, collectives, companies. Then you get employed as an ‘interaction director’ or ‘senior producer’ and where do your previous clients go? You can either refer them to somebody else, or you can decide that you have built enough of the client relationship (and i mean in knowing the client’s product kind of way) to think you know what to recommend to the client. And while you remain clued in his projects you have the team to actually do the work in the collective/company so it does not require you to compromise your day job.
Secondly, websphere exists on weirdly timed employments, i know a company director, who is employed as an IA for two days a week by an US company and for another two days by a Swedish company. I guess it’s down to him to figure out how to manage his time not to fail anywhere and not to take too much projects on.
Another thing is, sometimes the company that hires you has a very narrow scope of activity and client base and they are not interested in expanding it, and they would actually encourage you to handle the projects out of their time. And i think it’s better if it’s done out in the open on agreed terms.
So all in all i think it’s a fairly complex issue. As i said i can’t disagree that a person who’s employed by one company and has a competitive business on the side looks to be of questionable integrity but at the same time, there might be few factors that you might not be aware of by looking at both.
just my 2p