is there a way to find out if someone secretly has two full-time jobs?

A reader writes:

Is there any way to find out if someone is working a second full-time remote job on the side?

A good friend is facing a problem with one of his employees. Members of his team are convinced that a poor performing colleague, let’s call her Ariel, has a second full-time job.

She joined the fully remote team late last year. Her colleagues have observed a pattern of her frequently looking at a second laptop (the company did not provide her with this equipment) while on video calls, dropping on and off camera constantly, and appearing to be speaking while on mute despite being alone, and she denies all of this behavior asked about it. She also generally fails to remember the most basic of information about where team documents live. Her manager is working on documenting the issues and putting together a PIP for Ariel.

Ariel also does not list her role at the company on her LinkedIn or mention the company (despite being fairly active on the platform).

For context, this is at a pretty well-known company in the Bay Area with all the perks, benefits, and six-figure compensation package that comes with it. I totally empathize with those who are forced to work multiple full-time jobs to make ends meet when our minimum wage is abysmal and unsustainable most places nationwide!

I’m curious if there’s any guidance or steps my friend could or should take to address the odd behavior outside the PIP, especially when his other employees are raising their concerns and speculation about her possibly having a second full-time job.

I can’t think of any way you could prove someone had another full-time job unless they put it on their LinkedIn or other social media (which would be incredibly short-sighted of them) or if you found them listed as an employee (like on another company’s website or in a press release announcing their hire).

But you also don’t really need to. If Ariel isn’t attentive during meetings, doesn’t retain information, and isn’t generally isn’t doing a good job, those are all things her manager can and should should address forthrightly. You mentioned that your friend is working on documenting the issues and putting together an improvement plan, which is good — but ideally that would be something he does today, with a relatively short timeline for improvement. It shouldn’t be something that drags out over months.

He can also address problems right in the moment as they occur. If Ariel keeps looking at something else during video calls, he can say, “Ariel, it looks like you’re distracted — can we have your full attention?” (This is a little obnoxious and schoolmarmish and I wouldn’t recommend it normally; people are allowed to be distracted sometimes! It’s specific to what’s going on here.) If she keeps dropping on and off camera or speaking on mute when no one else is there, he can call her right after the meeting and say, “You kept dropping off camera and speaking on mute — what’s going on?” and/or “Is there something else going on during our work hours that’s taking your attention?” By calling her on it every time, he can make it really uncomfortable for her to keep doing it. (And if it turns out there’s another, less nefarious reason for it, this gives her an opportunity to explain that.)

He could also just … ask, directly. Not necessarily “Are you working a second job?” but there’s no reason not to say, “I get the sense that your attention is divided during the work day, and it’s affecting your work. What’s going on?”

And of course, if her work isn’t good, he needs to be regularly addressing that with her, asking about the issues, being highly engaged in reviewing her work and giving feedback and coaching, and deciding sooner rather than later whether it makes sense to keep her in the job or not.

I get that it would be easier if he could just prove she’s simultaneously working another job, since his company probably would consider it an immediate firing offense and he wouldn’t have to go through whatever progressive stages of discipline they’ll otherwise require. But by managing her really actively he can probably resolve this pretty quickly regardless.

{ 416 comments… read them below }

  1. Nanani*

    Focusing on the effects – the distraction and absence of information retention and so on – is really important.
    It might not be a second job at all. It could be really poor judgement re: a hobby, for instance.
    Would it change the equation if Ariel was distracted by bidding on human artifact auctions and livestreams of sunken ship exploration instead of a second job? I’m guessing not.
    It doesn’t matter if she’s making money from another source, it matters that she’s not doing her job satisfactorily.

    1. quill*

      Yeah, she could be, I don’t know, simultaneously on call with a friend, watching youtube, doomscrolling twitter, whatever – the point is not whether or not there’s another job, it’s that she’s not doing well at this one.

        1. Fran Fine*

          That’s possible, but then why would she be dropping from the calls and talking to herself? That doesn’t make sense even with a second screen.

          1. we hear you*

            I honestly have a team member who does this. She occasionally misses the mute button and the dialogue is exactly what we used to hear under her breath in the office (just louder.) It is so disconcerting.

            1. Avi*

              Oof, yeah. My primary coworker has a habit of narrating everything he’s doing to himself. It gets… frustrating.

          2. Software Engineer*

            I turn video off and talk not-to-the-call because I have a family and while they try to give me space sometimes things interfere. So I might turn off video because my husband just came out Of the shower and I am not confident enough there’s nothing reflective behind me, or because the camera draws my kids attention and then they want to be in front of it, or I might be talking to tell my kids to go ask dad where their sweatshirt is and yes I already packed your snack

            But you have to still be good at your job and the distraction in meetings shouldn’t be all the time or if it is you have to address it and work around it

      1. Nanani*

        A half-decent raid group will boot her for being distracted by work even as she’s distracted from work by the game. Lose-lose!

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            Haven’t we had letters in the past about people wanting to point out how much time and effort goes into coordinating raid boss mechanics, and how it should be used to show they are good management prospects?

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                As I recall the problem was 1) establishing the cross-application for people who don’t game (and no, suggesting they spend a few days educating themselves was not a good work around to that), and 2) proving that “Potato of War” is you and these strategic decisions were so the right ones and The Wailing Kitten’s critique was completely unfounded.

            1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

              As long as they’re not trying to do both at the same time. Unless they want to wipe the raid.

        1. Wintermute*

          Eh, there’s a lot of legwork that goes into being an active raider, which they could be trying to sneak in alongside work.

      2. Kaeira*

        This made me cry with laughter…mostly because I just logged off for the evening after letting my guild know that my head wasn’t in the game tonight and that I’d just make us wipe if I tried to raid!

    2. Canadian Valkyrie*

      This! The only reason a 2nd job matters if you have a non-compete clause with the company (or companies) you work for. The performance issues on their own are the problem; she could be doing a hobby, writing a book, or engaging in a really intense fantasy football league for all we know, so regardless of what it is, her performance is suffering.

      1. All the words*

        It does matter if they’re getting paid for the same 8 hours of work-time by two different companies.

        But yes, the poor performance is the primary point. The rest is speculation.

        1. Jasper*

          She’s not getting paid for any hours by the employer who wrote in — she’s salaried exempt, going by both common tech standards and the six figure salary. Which means that it’s mainly just up to her to get her work done, not to be doing it during any specific hours.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      One guy I used to work with many years ago was suspected of running a business on the side during work hours – similar things to the letter, he was inattentive, frequently dropped out of meetings to do…something, his work output was frankly atrocious.

      Our boss just told him to be more professional, to do his work or give a reason why we’d need to accommodate the low output. The last bit was just in case there was something going on outside of work – a crisis, a health issue etc.

      I think it was the push he needed to realise that actually he wasn’t being as covert in his inattentive behaviour as he thought. His work improved, he stopped running out of meetings etc. Much, much later he said he’d been pulled into an MLM and had been trying desperately to sell enough to recoup his losses and the boss pulling him upon his work made him realise that he couldn’t do that AND keep his job.

      1. SentientAmoeba*

        At least he quit the MLM for the regular job. A lot of people are convinced that their day job is what’s holding them back from being MLM millionaires. I see so many people quit their day job for “unlimited earning potential”.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I had to remove a couple of friends off my Facebook who’ve done that and were now spamming me with ‘buy this stuff or I’ll lose my house’. I sympathise in that I’ve been unemployed and desperate for money and it’s not a nice feeling but voluntarily quitting your job to sell junk to your friends is beyond the pale.

          1. Candi*

            I had someone mock me for working Amazon’s Mturk for extra cash (mostly used to cover tiny FTP game purchases). Then they introduced me to their MLM… and were not happen when I put the math up under their post that in the end, I was taking home more by doing a couple dozen $0.02 to $2 jobs every day then they would if they doubled their rate of sales at the time.

            No one wins at MLM except the guys at the top.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I recall an old letter in which the OP’s coworker was letting things slide–because his wife had died, and his mother-in-law had been helping with the kids but then she was hospitalized. Fortunately management asked his coworker before just firing him for poor performance, and when she alerted them to how much his outside life was on fire (he’d said nothing to management) they came through with taking a lot off his plate and helping him out.

        Give it a chance to be the sympathetic explanation. Even when you think it’s not.

        1. Editor*

          My first thought was not a second job, but supervising kids that were doing remote learning.

          And… Alison is right and the distraction is the problem, but I have a hard time resisting the urge to post Theories. I also rewrite novels in my head to change the plots. I want the full story, and if I don’t have it I will keep making up alternative stories as though advice columns were the rabbit hole into a universe of parallel universes. Sigh.

          1. Fran Fine*

            My first thought was not a second job, but supervising kids that were doing remote learning.

            I have to admit, this was my initial thought as well.

            1. Anon for this one*

              Me too – this could easily have been me for most of the last 18 months. My spouse has his own business (that was quite profitable and trending positively before the pandemic) and we will lose most of our assets if we shut down (we incorporated in mid-2019 and so don’t qualify for most business relief programs), so he has worked 7 days a week almost every week since about May 2020 (he’s taken about 5 days off this year altogether). Which means that I have had the kids on my own, 7 days a week, since about May 2020.

              My youngest turned 4 shortly after the pandemic began and has had severe emotional issues due to the isolation, and my eldest has ADHD and needs a lot of support when virtual school is on (we’re outside the U.S. so that’s been the bulk of the time – we got them into a few camps over the summer but most were sold out well before we knew whether they would actually run). I’ve had to deal with vomiting, nosebleeds, arguing, and snacks during conference calls, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I once got reprimanded because I rushed my youngest to the hospital in the middle of the day (apparently I should have “transitioned” my work better).

              All to say that it’s totally possible this is kid-related (or even “someone else’s kids in a shared space” -related). The memory follows, because after awhile of being interrupted every 3-5 minutes during my workday for well over a year, my ability to focus or remember things is almost non-existent. When the kids are in school, after about a week of adjusting, I suddenly find myself marvelling at how productive I am, how it feels to focus on my work, and I cram about double what I would in the before-times into my days because I have no idea how long it will last. I try not to call attention to it because my boss knows generally that I’m struggling but my employer really pushes for flex time (which is not going to solve the root issue – the kids don’t exactly leave in the evenings and it’s not uncommon for spouse to have to work until 7 or 8pm). I’m paid very well, but he’s older and previously earned more than me, so money is extremely tight right now (which has no bearing on my opinion about the cause of this behaviour, but it’s important to know that it’s possible to be earning 100k per year and still struggling financially right now – we’re at a point where we’re probably going to have to downsize our home, but trying to avoid it as we’d likely have to move the kids to another school, not to mention I don’t exactly have a lot of time/energy to get the house in shape for a sale). It’s brutal. We’re still so privileged in so many ways, but we don’t have help nearby so I’m really at the mercy of my employer right now. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Yeah, if I’m faced with performance issues from a member of staff I’ll always give them room to give a reason.

          It might not be something I can accommodate for, but I’d like to know.

    4. GNG*

      I agree. OP’s friend has 2 major issues that they need to address sooner rather than later. One is obviously Ariel’s performance issue, which has now gotten to a point where it’s so noticeable that it led to the 2nd issue, which is staff perpetuating rumors about a colleague. There can be a hundred different reasons leading to Ariel’s performance issues, but talks about her having a 2nd full time job are unfounded. A manager can’t just let staff go on spreading rumors unmitigated. Friend need to spend their time and energy focusing on addressing performance and behaviors of everyone – Ariel and Staff- instead of focusing on whether a rumor is true.

    5. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      This manager needs to sit down with her and explain that if she wants to continue working there, she needs to become part of their world

    6. Gertie*

      They could also be doing actual work on another screen. I’m frequently in meetings that I don’t actually need to be or the conversation goes off into something that doesn’t involve me so I’ll be listening and doing some easy task on the other screen.

  2. nugget king*

    I wish I had the balls to work two full-time jobs because my current one would make it VERY easy. :(

    Jokes aside, this isn’t really about her maybe working two jobs, as Alison says – this is about her not doing well at this one, which is totally actionable regardless of the reason.

    1. Anon for now*

      I think I could do it but I wouldn’t because it would be far too much work. Truthfully, my current job doesn’t take forty hours a week – more like 25 so I could conceivably work the same hours at another job and double dip. Currently, I manage to be a high performer with my current job because I am an incredibly fast reader and writer – it cuts hours off the day. – and I am very familiar with the job and what’s really important. The big problem with two jobs is appearing available at both. For my current job, it’s something I am very careful about. I think for two jobs, you’d really need to be working in different time zones to get away with it or have no meetings. I’d never do though because I’m far too lazy!

      1. nugget king*

        This is exactly it for me! I am remote and work ~15-25 hours regularly. I almost NEVER need to put in more than 3-4 hours of work on a single day. But I am very very careful about appearing online and available, turning in all my work on time, and working the full 40 hours (even if that means making sure my Teams bubble stays green while I read a book or practice drawing or whatever else). I don’t do anything that takes me away from my computer for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. I even quit my long term freelance contract because a new team member joined who liked spontaneous phone calls and the stress of that, even though I almost never have spontaneous meetings at my full-time job, was more than I wanted to handle (full-time job knew I was freelancing, but rightly expected me not to be doing that work during the full-time workday)

        1. Powercycle*

          Same here. Although my job is not very busy on a typical day, just coordinating my time and availability for the 3 projects I collaborate with is enough stress on it’s own. Sometimes two of them need my services on the same day. Adding a 2nd job on top of that, even a part-time or freelance gig, would be too much stress.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I was going to school full time while working and it wasn’t stressful at all. I started my masters while I was at a job where work came in waves, so it was easy to read my text and write papers during the slow times. My next job was so disorganized that I had an hours worth of work every day, so I actually needed something else to do. But I was only accountable to myself as far as school was concerned. If I failed out of a class, I didn’t lose my job, I just had to pay to take the class again.
        I probably could do the work of two jobs, but I could not handle the stress of it! I’m sure there are people who love the chase of hiding one job from another, but that is no way me. I’d melt as soon as I had two meetings scheduled at the same time.

        1. EchoGirl*

          Yeah, I could see this working if one of the jobs has a “you need to work X number of hours per week but we don’t care when” kind of schedule (they do exist, I had a job like that a few years ago) so that you wouldn’t have to worry about overlapping meetings and what have you, but not where the two jobs could cause a situation where they’d both want you face-to-face at the same time).

          (No, I didn’t try it, but I can’t swear that I wouldn’t have if the opportunity had been presented, but it never even occurred to me that it would be a possibility; this was pre-pandemic so there were a lot less remote jobs anyway.)

          1. EchoGirl*

            I should add that this was a job that was so mind-numbing (a lot of very repetitive work; that’s actually the single major reason I ultimately ended up quitting) that I literally used to play mobile games while working just to keep my brain active, so part of the reason it springs to mind is that I already know that I could do it, and in fact that I was better at the job when I had something to split my attention. I’m pretty sure that job was an outlier in that sense, not something you’d typically come across.

      3. Anonomatopoeia*

        I had a job that depended on some of those same skills – reading comprehension and identification of key factors. Those are things that come naturally to me, so I did the job very quickly (at maybe 4x the expected rate). The business specifically did not want more work done than the contracted amount, so I would regularly have hours to kill. This happened in the Before Times, so that means that this was in an office setting. Thankfully, extensive phone scrolling was a routine thing to see there and didn’t cause any negative reaction.

        Now that we’re all at home, I can certainly imagine feeling like I could keep up with another job at the same time. I wouldn’t, since I’ve already “sold” that portion of my time to the current employer, but I bet I could have pulled it off.

        1. Curious Reader*

          Ridiculously fast reading and fast analysis are the two things my brain loves to do, and I’ve never figured out how to turn this into a career. Can I ask what this job was?

          1. CV*

            Not sure what kind of work Anonomatopoeia does, but case management requires a healthy dose of those two skills (combined with an equal amount of client service skills)

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Once I realised that I wasn’t getting a pay rise or even a bonus for being twice as productive as my colleague in fewer hours, I started doing whatever volunteer work I could get done online. The volunteer work is on a “do what you can when you can” basis so it was a great way to fill in when I had a lull at work.

      5. Candi*

        Back when I was 20-21, I was attending a 6-month 40 hr a week class and working a 25-30 hr a week housekeeping job. Class Mon-Fri, work Wed-Sunday.

        NEVER. AGAIN.

        I feel the same way about working two jobs, even though office work isn’t as physically taxing as mall housekeeping, and I might have weekends off. (Is also why I’m keeping my job hunt for during school to -20 hours part-time jobs. 5 more quarters until my diploma! *\o/*)

    2. Catnip*

      There was an Economist article a little while ago about people working two full-time remote jobs, and I remember that one of the things they all said was that they were constantly worried about being found out, to the point it was an all-consuming stress that sounded a bit debilitating to me. I can’t imagine any amount of $$ being worth that! (Barring, of course, situations of desperation where someone isn’t making enough to live on).

      1. maggie98765*

        That article was the first thing I thought of when I read this letter. A certain type of person would read that and feel like working 2 jobs at once should be something they can do because obviously other people are doing it. To me, it’s unethical enough that it only makes sense if you literally have no other choice, like, can’t afford food and shelter otherwise.

        1. Canadian Librarian #72*

          Why is it unethical, though? If your performance truly doesn’t suffer, what is the actual problem? If your employer gets what they need from you, what is the issue?

          1. Chantel*

            Look at it this way: would you want an employee of yours to get paid from elsewhere on your clock?

            I mean, it’s about being fully available on principal. If an employee can get work completed in 4 hours inside of an 8-hour day, s/he should pitch in elsewhere at that same one job, or sign up for professional training.

            I don’t see why that’s so hard to grasp.

            1. Klein*

              Because that isn’t what the company is paying for. The negotiation that was agreed was that they would pay $X in order to get work that they feel is worth that amount of money done.

              The fact that this miracle employee can get that done in 4 hours instead of 8 doesn’t mean they are entitled to extra work from them (well unless they are willing to pay them more anyway).

              If they are meeting expectation with 4 hours of work that is all the work they need to do. If you try to make them do more without additional compensation you’ll just teach them they need to stretch the work and make it look like it took 8 hours.

              1. Candi*

                Usually when you’re hired, your new employer isn’t just paying for your skills, education, and experience, they’re paying you an agreed-upon amount for you to have those things available for your employer during specific time periods.

                If you’re working for someone else during the time the first employer is paying for, you are not available for your first employer as you’d agreed you’d be when you were hired. Whether you have enough initial work doesn’t come into it; that’s why you’re expected to find other things to do if you finish your work quickly.

                You don’t get compensated for working on those things because you are already getting paid to have your time available.

                Even companies that are fine with second jobs insist it not be on their clock, ever.

                1. Jasper*

                  For many of not most jobs, it is true that they’re paying you for your time. For the kind of jobs we’re talking about, though, with six figure salaries and which are salaries exempt, they’re not paying for your time. They’re paying for your work.

      2. John Smith*

        I’d be exactly the same. A further consideration is that in the UK at least, the salary for the second job would be taxed to death (assuming it’s not on the side and that wages aren’t so low).

  3. Mental Lentil*

    The problem really isn’t that she has a second job (if that’s the case). The problem is that she’s not performing well at this job. This is what is in the LW’s purview. If Ariel were able to work two jobs and do a great job at both, LW wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    (That said, there are lots of other things she could be doing, but that’s not the real issue, so it isn’t helpful to speculate.)

    1. mediamaven*

      But having a second job is also the problem. If she’s being paid hourly or for a 40 hour work week but working for someone else during that time, it’s a huge problem. I had someone just do that to me. She was essentially stealing from me because she wasn’t completing anything but collecting a check.

      1. ABBBBK*

        She’s unlikely to be paid hourly, and even if she were, the issue would still be the distraction and poor performance, not necessarily the why

        1. Mental Lentil*

          LW mentions “six figures” which is usually descriptive of a salaried employee. When it’s hourly, people generally mention the hourly figure or range. So I also assumed salaried.

          1. doreen*

            Depends – I know a lot of people who have jobs that are essentially hourly in that if they worked only 25 hours this week and didn’t have PTO to cover it , their paycheck would be smaller. They also get time and a half if they work over 40 hours in a week. But because they work a steady schedule of 35/37.5/40 hours per week , and they rarely encounter either overtime or a couple of hours of unpaid time off, they ( and often their employers) give their pay as a yearly figure – at my job people whose pay is quoted as high as $93,659 per year are in this category.

        2. Kim*

          You’re arguing over nothing and missing the point . A salary correlates to an hourly rate even if you are an exempt employee. But the entire point is the person ,if allegations are true, is being paid by both companies during the same 8 hour period and performance is sub par.
          Before remote work was a thing , I worked at two companies where highly compensated employees were employed by two companies at the same time , during the same 8 hour period .They were eventually caught as they were observed over time going back and forth between the buildings of their dual employers. All were fired.

          1. Candi*

            …I’m just reading that and thinking how did they ever think that would go unnoticed?

            Juvenile magical thinking, I swear.

      2. CanWeHaveSinglePayerNowPlease*

        The real problem was the lack of productivity while the person was being paid though. It doesn’t really matter what else they’re doing with their time, if they’re being paid and they aren’t doing the job, that’s a problem.

        I don’t really see the difference between working a different job and collecting pay on a 2nd one, or watching True Crime drama all day and collecting pay on a job.

        Either way, collecting pay for not doing work is the issue.

        1. Public Sector Manager*

          Agreed! I have a team of 20, and as long as they are doing great work for me, I have no concerns about what else they are doing. And if the quality and quantity of their work is poor, I’m going to address it with the employee in question. The “why” is only important if they are doing subpar work and I need to fix it, such as giving them time off if they are having a personal problem, directly them to HR if they need a medical accommodation, or arranging training if it’s, well, a training problem.

      3. KHB*

        Yeah, I agree – the reason for the poor performance does make a difference. If she’s trying her best but is distracted by family/home/general pandemic anxiety stuff, a reasonable employer is going to want to extend her a lot more patience and leeway than they would if she’s double-dipping and lying about it.

        That doesn’t help answer OP’s actual question, though (of whether there’s a way to find out what’s going on). In past letters about this kind of situation, the employers usually found out through the other employers. If Ariel’s position is specialized enough that there are only a few other places she could be working for, Employer #1 could try asking around to see if they can identify Employer #2.

        1. Sleet Feet*

          Asking other employers if Ariel works for them is problematic.

          Apart from being extremely odd – if another employer asked me of Ariel was working from my I would find that really bizarre! – it could making Ariel look bad to the other employers for no good reason. Like you said there could be understandable reasons for the problems.

          Alisons advice is spot on. Name the problem. Set expectations. Manage Ariel closely, give her a chance to speak up, and fire if all that fails.

          1. KHB*

            I mean, it would obviously have to be done with some tact – you don’t want to just start calling up HR departments and asking “We think our employee Ariel is double-dipping – is she working for you at the same time as she’s working for us?” And I admittedly don’t have any further wisdom about how to conduct such an investigation. But the employer isn’t wrong to want to know.

            1. pancakes*

              Barking up the wrong tree is indeed a form of being wrong. It would be quite misguided to put time and effort into trying to investigate exactly what she’s doing that way rather than promptly tackling the numerous issues with her performance. The objective is to either get this person’s performance on track or get someone else into the role, not to gratify the employer’s curiosity.

      4. Sleet Feet*

        If someone is paid a salary and they get everything you asked of them completed they are not stealing from you if they have a side gig even if they work it during what you consider “core hours”.

        If they aren’t getting there work done manage them and fire if necessary. No need to call someone a thief (it’s not, there is nothing criminal about being a crappy worker).

        1. KHB*

          Without getting into what is or isn’t “stealing,” the first situation you describe is absolutely one that the employer would have every right to be unhappy about.

            1. KHB*

              The one where you warrant to an employer that they’ll have your mostly-undivided attention during a certain set of core hours, get paid accordingly, and then don’t hold up your end of the deal.

              These kinds of “what if you’re getting all your work done?” scenarios come up a lot as hypotheticals, but reality is a lot more complicated, because “getting all your work done” is kind of a fuzzy concept. Maybe you can make a widget to an excellent standard in 40 hours, but to a barely-adequate standard in 30 hours. Are you “getting all your work done” if you’re making barely-adequate widgets and passing them off as the best that you can do? Or maybe (like in many jobs) there’s an unending list of things you could be doing, so if the employer knew you’d “gotten all your work done” in 30 hours, they’d find something else for you to do in the remaining 10.

              And even if you’re such a genius that it reliably takes you just 30 hours a week to do what a mere mortal can do in 40, your “side gig” still presents a potential conflict of interest. Maybe your employer would be happy to let you work on it during downtime if they knew about it, but that’s not a decision you get to make unilaterally.

              1. Just @ me next time*

                It’s up to the employer to be clear and explicit about what’s expected of an employee. If the only guidance the employer gives the employee is “every week, produce three widgets that pass quality control standards,” and the employee is meeting that, the employer has no cause to ask for more. If they want the employee to produce more widgets, they need to adjust the job description, and the employee can decide if they want to continue working under the new description. If the quality of the widgets isn’t what they wanted, the employer needs to examine their quality control processes. It’s not up to the employee to manifest additional responsibilities if they’re meeting all explicit requirements in less than 40 hours a week.

                1. TechWorker*

                  You’re aware that there are an awful lot of roles out there, especially more senior ones where roles and responsibilities are not described neatly in terms of ‘x output per week’, right?

                2. Your Local Password Resetter*

                  @TechWorker And their managers can still figure out if those people do good work and perform their responsibilities. And if those people do, the managers don’t really have any standing to complain.

              2. Kella*

                That’s still a performance problem though. Doing barely-adequate standard work is a performance problem. Doing the minimum instead of reaching for the next thing to do is a performance problem. If that level of performance isn’t sufficient to keep the job, that’s enough of a reason to fire them. If it’s not a problem for keeping the job but means you can’t promote or advance them, then you tell them that.

                In the hypothetical situation where someone receives a core salary and they give everything they are asked to do, the idea is that the level of performance they can maintain does not significantly impact their metrics at work, or at least not to an extent that is unacceptable to their superiors. Is it possible to do that? I’m not sure. But if someone *is* meeting work expectations, “I think you are capable of doing more” is an undefined and unenforceable expectation. Heck, I could have *one* job and decide not to put my all into it. It would be my boss’s job to decide if my lack of enthusiasm and dedication translated into a performance problem or if those qualities weren’t actually necessary to do the job I was being paid to do.

                What *is* a problem specific to working two jobs is the dishonesty. If you find out your employee was working two jobs and hiding it, that likely means you can’t trust that employee anymore. But as Alison said, it’s hard to prove that and much simpler to just manage their work performance like you normally would.

              3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Yes! I’m a translator and this is exactly what happens. I can translate 2000 words competently in a morning, and when it’s something repetitive like a fashion catalogue, or a software manual, or yet another press release about ongoing building works at an airport, competent is fine. But if it’s the blurb for an art exhibition, with the writer waxing very lyrical about the saturated colours and offbeat handling of a sensitive subject, I’ll need a full day and could easily spend another getting it from competent to excellent.
                A French friend kept posting machine translations of French articles in an English-language forum, and an American complained that it was illegible. It made sense, it was just badly translated. I took the first sentence of one article and rewrote it in an authentic journalistic style in English, and the guy understood immediately and even agreed with my French friend for the first time in the history of that forum!

            2. Candi*

              The one where you’re paying someone to have what’s in their brain available during the time of day/week/month you are paying for, regardless of the current amount of work on the table.

              The employer is paying for your time, not just your work. That’s why you’re expected find more work to do if you’re done, not told you can do what you want until the next segment of work comes along.

              That’s why you plunk your butt in the seat or sign on when you’re supposed to, even if everyone knows there won’t be anything to actually do until X, Y, or Z happens.

              That’s why they’re called “core” hours, since they’re the ones you must be available -but they’re not the only hours you’re expected to be available.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          If I’m paying you to be present and engaged during a meeting, and you’re actually working your other job during that meeting, then yes, you are taking something from me.

        3. AndersonDarling*

          I can imagine a developer that is so good with their dev skillz that they can work perfectly and fast and they could handle multiple jobs. I agree that it isn’t stealing or theft. They may love their work so much that they view their jobs as hobbies.
          There are many tech positions where you don’t have contact with a real person and requirements are sent through Jira. No meetings to juggle, just deadlines.

          1. TechWorker*

            ‘Stealing’ and ‘theft’ are emotive words, I’m not sure I’d use that, but I would call it extremely unprofessional and would consider it a firing offence. Whilst I’m sure there are tech companies where deadlines are set completely arbitrarily, there are also lots of cases where the developers themselves have significant input into the scoping of a task and thus when a reasonable/feasible deadline is. That does require some level of trust because in some cases (not all) the person doing the scoping will be the only person with knowledge of what is reasonable. If I hired someone as a full time senior engineer on a senior engineer salary and their work is good but 50% slower than it needs to be – well that’s very not ok. And yes, a good manager should be able to ‘tell’, but we also reeeeaally do not want to encourage managers having to second guess their technical people and arbitrarily deciding that a task ‘sounds’ too long because that’s how people get tied into totally infeasible deadlines. If a senior trusted engineer is saying ‘yes this is a week of work I’ll have it done by Friday’ and it is infact 2.5 days work for someone of their experience, that is not ok.

            1. Darren*

              At some point the manager has to make that call though it’s his job he can’t just defer it to the senior engineer no matter how trusted they are.

              If you’ve got an employee Frank that takes 2 weeks to do tasks you think can be done in one week, and another employee Amy that takes 4 days to get the tasks that you think can be done in one week done at some point you have to make a call whether Frank is just really unlucky that all the tasks you give him actually take longer than you expect or whether Frank is just not as good at this as Amy, and thus his work isn’t up to the standard you have (you’d want to hire more Amy’s and less Frank’s).

              I’ve had to make that call as a manager, and I’ve been the peer that has been asked to sense check some deadlines because the manager wasn’t sure and wanted a second opinion.

      5. Mental Lentil*

        Change “working for someone else during that time” to “doing crossword puzzles during that time”. The end result is the same: they weren’t able to accomplish the job that you needed them to get done.

        My point is, the reason for poor performance is really irrelevant if you don’t have control over it. Anyone in this position needs to focus on what they actually have control over, which in both your and LW’s cases, are poor performance.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This. She could be staring blankly at a wall during the time she drops off camera. (Which, let’s face it, is not a real Problem. She might need to blow her nose or cough. Or adjust her screen. Or be eating up too much bandwidth.) The real issue is her work quality.

      6. Jim*

        Yep. Depending on the contract you signed as well (if you signed one). Govt contractors typically are not allowed to work for more than one company (in the contracting world). Not sure what position she has at this company. Just pointing out sometimes it’s a breach of contract.

      7. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        There’s nothing wrong with having a second job. People have second jobs all the time. It is a problem if she’s working on job B while she’s scheduled to be focused on job A, and it’s a problem if her quality/quantity of work for one or both jobs is suffering. Outside of that, she should be free to host as many jobs as she wants.

        1. Candi*

          There are lots of companies that are fine with second jobs.

          Almost none of them are fine with the second job being done while you’re on their clock.

      8. Amaranth*

        Isn’t the problem that she wasn’t doing the work? I would say that it is stealing if they are paid hourly and then using that time for other work, but if salaried, the idea is usually they will work the necessary hours to get the assigned tasks done.

    2. LQ*

      Why is it that if literally the only thing that matters is performance it’s fine for someone to have really horrible performance for other reasons?

      I don’t disagree that’s true. I disagree that performance is the only thing that matters should be the drum to beat, because I want there to be space for people to have poor performance occasionally. But all this performance is literally all that matters says that if your spouse dies and you have a bad spell you should be fired. I think that’s wrong.

      1. Jasper*

        Excuses for poor performance only go so far. No matter how understandable it is that caring for your ageing parents takes time, if it happens for too long too often, it’s still a problem. The point with letting people explain is mainly for *temporary* things. If it’s this month and you’re back up to normal the rest of the year, that’s different than if it is the next 5 years.

  4. T. Boone Pickens*

    This should be a fun discussion! The WSJ had a long article a couple weeks ago about how some folks were working 2 full-time jobs simultaneously and provided tips on how to try and fly under the radar. From what the OP described, I’d wager a few bucks that Ariel is working 2 jobs.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Honestly, there’s a lot of smoke but no fire. I agree with PIP, calling out the actions in the moment, and otherwise focusing on the actionable items to try and improve performance in the job. But I would make that PIP have as Alison said a fairly short timeframe and then sustaining that improvement for a very long and consistent time.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Something is distracting her, but I think it’s an unnecessary leap to assume it’s a second job.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes. Her performance is the issue, even if it’s because she’s talking to the cat or watching music videos.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, she could be day trading stocks on the side, writing a screenplay, running an Etsy store … there are all kinds of possibilities!

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Playing MMORPGs and raiding with her guild? :D (The ‘talking on mute’ would be using voice chat to talk to the guild.)

          1. Nessun*

            If I was raiding while I was working then the healer would be PO’d with me for being downed all the time. :P

            1. Kal*

              As a former healer, my tactic would be to leave you just downed permanently so you’re not dragging the rest of us down with you. We don’t tend to tolerate distracted party members much. =P

              1. Your Local Password Resetter*

                As another healer, that would be my reaction too :)
                I wouldn’t leave people down permanently, but they’d go to the bottom of the priority list for reviving and keeping them alive. Especially if you’re not the tank.

            2. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

              Former heals / DPS here – I’d leave you to burn in the fire and that’s if you’re in my guild or a random in a raid finder. Don’t raid distracted. Or drunk, but that’s a story for another time. :)

          1. Le Sigh*

            Eh, I could easily classify daytrading or writing a screenplay as hobbies as well. I suspect more people lose than make money on daytrading, and screenplay writing isn’t really know for making people rich (and I think a lot of would-be writers take bill-paying jobs and write on the side). If it’s done during non-core work hours and the person can still meet all of their goals, then most employers aren’t going to take issue with someone daytrading or trying to write their first book or screenplay.

            The second job is mainly an issue if it either competes with the other job. The primary issue here is Ariel isn’t meeting their goals and is showing signs of being distracted.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yeah, as someone who wrote bits of a screenplay during downtime at a previous job, I just did it for my own enjoyment and didn’t get paid. (This is probably the case with 95% of people who ever work on a screenplay or novel.)
              I think day trading or Etsy selling are side hustles or hobbies for the vast majority of people who do them, though the people for whom it’s a decent living get the most attention. I sold stuff on Ebay many years ago and didn’t make any money off it.

        2. Lala*

          Yep, I had a coworker who would spend an hour or two in the morning day trading (to be fair, we didn’t have anything to do at that time so the rest of us were browsing the internet) and also would spend hours a day on the phone coordinating stuff related to her kids’ sports schedule – she’d have earbuds in and be chatting while working. This was all in-person, but I could totally see how if we had been remote it would have looked like a second job.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Exactly. Some of my co-workers had to manage serious medical or end-of-life care for their relatives: they had medical POA, managed appointments, paid bills, spoke to bankers and attorneys, etc. A lot of this activity couldn’t wait until after business hours and they were pretty distracted during the day.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        This. It could be a dozen other things. A couple of those are sympathetic and you might try to manage her performance up if you knew what you had to accommodate. Most fall into “shouldn’t be spending your work time on camera staring off at the other camera,” whether that’s for a video game or AAM or puppy cam.

      5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        My first thought was yes, she’s clearly working two jobs. She’s on two computers at the same time.
        and then I read the first comment.
        There are so many plausible reasons that she is distracted and inattentive.
        And also, the only issue is that she’s distracted and inattentive. Addressing that is issue.

    3. LW*

      I’m the letter writer here! Honestly, the WSJ article is exactly what I think has been fueling the fire among Ariel’s teammate (and honestly, with my friend/her manager). The smoke has been there, but now there’s a presumed narrative around it. I’m passing Alison’s advice along to him now, so will hopefully have an update eventually. I feel bad for him, but it sounds like he’s already on the path he needs to accelerate re: PIP.

      1. Anoni*

        Ooo, that’s a good point. They saw smoke and the article gave them the fire. Ariel could just be chatting on the phone with friends and watching Netflix. I hope your friend can get to the bottom of it!

        Somewhat random thought, but if there were a policy against working another job on your work hours, could HR run a work number check to see if Ariel’s SSN came up for another company? I wouldn’t suggest this based on the issues described here since Ariel’s manager can simply address the performance issues, but I did wonder if that would be an option that appeared way down the list.

        1. pancakes*

          It doesn’t sound like the article gave them anything tangible at all – just a distracting sense that it’s somehow important to find out exactly what this employee is up to before taking action.

        2. pancakes*

          Also, please reconsider the wisdom, necessity, and practicality of trying to do research with someone’s SSN in this context. That would not be a good use of extremely sensitive personally identifying information.

      2. Le Sigh*

        Yeah, I would encourage your friend to not get too focused on the second job thing. There’s evidence of *an* issue but I wouldn’t say it’s clear, based on what you’ve laid out, that a second job is it. I wonder if you’re right that the WSJ article has sent a bee up their bonnet and they’re allowing that to color how they handle this.

        If his employee is watching cat videos on YouTube or playing WoW, that’s not good but the basic problem remains — they’re not meeting goals, appear distracted, etc. If the employee is dealing with something like kids in remote school, an ill family member, or something else challenging and more understandable, it would really suck to have your employer accuse you of something you’re not doing and it distracts from the real issue. If your friend focuses on the issue at hand, then the focus remains on fixing the problem (getting them on track, firing, etc.) and they have created some runway to work with them if needed/if they can.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Honestly I would encourage your friend to focus on the smoke and less on the reason – give them space if it’s some sort of personal or family emergency- but honestly focus on the what needs fixed to get them up to par with the rest of the team.

      4. A Wall*

        It really seems like your friend heard hoofsteps and assumed zebra. Like, sure, it could be a zebra where she has a second job, but isn’t it dramatically more likely to be a horse– her doing one of the million other things that you can be distracted by while sitting at a computer? If you want to stick to your analogy, it’s like he saw smoke coming from his neighbors backyard and decided the house must be burning down before looking to see if they were having a BBQ. There’s probably thousands of letters on here from over the years with many hundreds of stories of people being distracted at work and performing badly because of it, and I think maybe one of them ever involved someone having another job.

        Relatedly, I honestly think the “this person worked x number of remote jobs” stories popping up are vague astroturfing to try and justify why remote work is somehow dangerous. Calls to eliminate a system that benefits a great many people because of the specter of some mythical person taking advantage of it is not exactly new. And that’s before you get into the fact that we’re a year and a half into, you know, a global pandemic causing ever increasing mass suffering and death. The average person is maybe not doing so hot right now for entirely non-nefarious reasons. He’s already going through the PIP with her, I don’t know why he also needs to come up with a sensational narrative to go with it.

        1. Mannequin*

          “Relatedly, I honestly think the “this person worked x number of remote jobs” stories popping up are vague astroturfing to try and justify why remote work is somehow dangerous. Calls to eliminate a system that benefits a great many people because of the specter of some mythical person taking advantage of it is not exactly new.”

          Ding ding ding!
          “And this big scary mythical multi remote job haver is the reason we will be butts in seats from now on!”

          1. L in TX*

            “And this big scary mythical multi remote job haver is the reason we will be butts in seats from now on!”

            Yes, because GOD FORBID your job isn’t a person’s first, last, always and forever!

          2. Candi*

            Hopefully then the accountants point to the cost savings of reimbursing for home offices vs running a whole office in a suite, floor, or even the whole building. For one thing, there’s a lot less rent.

    4. Just Another Zebra*

      It’s possible, but is it the most likely solution? Maybe Ariel has kids in school, and that’s who she’s speaking to off-screen. Maybe she has her two laptops wired together and is using side-by-side screens. Maybe she’s a verbal processor and needs to talk through what she’s doing.

      Or maybe she has a second job. It’s really irrelevant. What’s relevant is she isn’t performing up to standards, and that can be addressed without speculation.

      1. Joielle*

        I did think it might be kids in remote school – maybe a kid who’s easily distracted or has a learning disability and needs a lot of guidance during the day. But it doesn’t really matter. Whatever she’s doing, the effect on her job performance is the only thing to address.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I said the same thing below – there are lots of reasons for these kinds of distracted behavior. But the thing that’s weird here, in that case, is her denials. Most people wouldn’t try to entirely hide that they had children doing remote school and deny that they were speaking when muted during a meeting.

          1. Anonymous for this*

            You might not want to know that your spouse has a mental health issue and is constantly interrupting you about ongoing catastrophes that are not actually catastrophes… (my supervisor does know this, but my colleagues do not. Also my work is not suffering but sometimes my zoom behavior probably looks weird)

      2. KRM*

        I often work during meetings, and I sometimes need to talk something through to myself when I’m working. She could very well be trying to do something on a second screen (I have an external monitor where I usually put the zoom window, so I mostly don’t look at the camera during meetings). So I can see why she might act that way. However, as everyone has said, it doesn’t matter if she works that way. What matters is that she doesn’t seem to be able to perform the job, and she does need to have that discussed with her (up to and including PIP/termination if she doesn’t improve).

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, the looking at a 2nd screen part wouldn’t alarm me at all. It’s pretty typical on my team to get a little work done in the background if the meeting doesn’t require your undivided attention.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Some number of commenters are reading AAM on a second screen while work is on the first screen.

            Maybe Ariel is talking to herself as she gives people here Sound Advice they can’t actually hear.

    5. Esmeralda*

      Or has some sort of family issue — sick family member who lives across the country and Ariel has to be on the phone and internet/email a lot to deal with it. Sick family member right there at home who is distracting.
      Or, I dunno, a video game or online gambling or …

      If the manager does speak to Ariel, they might find out.

    6. Antisocialite*

      I read that article, and I think BuzzFeed did something similar recently.

      The “tactics and techniques” listed in the articles, many of which these dual-job people bragged about doing, are exactly what the OP wrote about.

      It blew my mind, because I’m a fully remote worker and it is completely not feasible with ANY of my jobs, remote or otherwise.

      That said, even before reading that article I was 100% convinced our Crappiest Coworker Ever is also on this bandwagon. She does all those things, and leaves all the live chats for others and takes emails only, which is against the rules. On a day when we handle say, 25-75 items, she will have completed 5-20, maybe. But, our management team is awful so they’ll probably never do anything.

  5. Czhorat*

    There seems to be a constant theme here: WHY the performance is unacceptable isn’t the direction to take if the problem is somethiung outside your office.

    The issue is that the employee is unfocused and unsuccessful at their job. Address that, and they’ll have to contend with the personal reason, whatever that is.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve seen something similar, and it was someone who stayed on a call for hours at a time with an opposite-shift family member to combat anxiety. (Their own; they eventually resigned for a new job that was a better fit.)

    2. quill*

      “I can be on raid and on a work call at the same time, it’s cool – hold on, just got asked a question about the Leroy Jenkins account – NO DON’T RUSH IN DAMN IT!”

      1. Nessun*

        “Hey boss, I have the personnel report for you from last week’s call and…ALRIGHT WHO AGGRO’D THE MOB?”

    3. Nicki Name*

      Yeah, I don’t see why everyone is jumping to assuming a second job. There are lots of other distractions out there on the internet!

        1. BatManDan*

          THERE we go! Love the references from the AAM archives. “Duck club” makes me second-guess being self-employed for 33 years; would have loved to encountered a duck club once in my (single) life! lol

    4. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah, I’d be very surprised if this were a second job. If she were actually having 2 video calls at once, which I think is what is being implied, it would be a lot more obvious than this.

  6. BatManDan*

    I’ve always been fascinated by people that manage to do this well, whether they are real people or fictional characters. I first encountered this concept when I read a book titled “The Mark of Conte” in high school, about a student that managed to pull off two full-time curricula simultaneously, so he could get out of school more quickly. Dying to know what the update to this will be. I can see it being an actual second job, or something that FEELS like a second job to the employee – monitoring an elderly or ill family member, for example.

    1. Anonym*

      An interesting point – it could be the opposite of nefarious! (Care-giving/monitoring). All roads point back to performance at the main job being the only meaningful angle for LW’s friend. And going into conversations with Ariel with NO assumptions about why she’s distracted and underperforming is both the best and safest approach.

    2. LunaLena*

      You should look up George P. Burdell, a distinguished graduate and faculty member of Georgia Tech who has a part of the student center named after him. He also never existed; instead an actual student did both his own work and “Burdell’s” until they both graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, and then perpetuating his existence became a tradition at Georgia Tech. There’s a good summary of him on Mental Floss.

      1. anon for this*

        My spouse is faculty there, and George P. Burdell is the sample student name they use in all of the staff/faculty HR trainings, too.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Bigamists are fascinating, too. The amount of mental effort and time management involved must be totally exhausting!

      1. quill*

        I wonder if there’s an addictive behavioral pattern to some of these highly nitpicky time management things, what with the bigamy and the two jobs, because I see it in how people talk about say, video game resource management as well. Some sort of dedication to having as much as possible by maximizing every second?

        1. MA Dad*

          That last sentence spoke to me. My dad died of cancer (at 51) when I was in middle school and since then, I have absolutely hated not having control of even one second of my time. He worked a bunch so I have very limited memories of him before he got sick. Having my own family has adjusted that somewhat since it can’t be all about me but before I became remote(still temporary due to COVID), I resented being away from my wife and kids for 10+ hours a day and my mental health was in the pits. Life is just too short.

    4. Uncle Bob*

      In the end it doesn’t matter if Ariel is achieving sainthood on the 2nd laptop or has the cure for cancer almost wrapped up- she’s not doing her job.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        This. All the fanfic backstories people are assigning her are starting to drive me bonkers. It’s a performance issue and should be dealt with as such.

      1. Belle of the Midwest*

        100 points to your Hogwarts House for the Time Turner reference. signed, Ravenclaw who channels Luna Lovegood more than Cho Chang

      1. Amaranth*

        I couldn’t understand why they thought Hermione would be wholly responsible with it when she’d already established that she would go through forbidden obstacle courses of doom, hex teachers and traipse around looking for giant snakes.

        1. Candi*

          I always thought Dumbledore was really good at PR and spin. And most of it never bit him back, even once the Ministry went virulently anti-Dumbledore.

  7. Smithy*

    I think that Alison’s point about desiring a quick avenue for immediate termination, losing focus on the larger performance issues and ultimate desire for either improvement or termination.

    A second job might achieve enable an immediate firing, but other reasons for all of the issues mentioned could also just be social or family in nature. Someone using a second computer to play games, be on social media or other video/chat functions. Not that any of that is ideal and would still require more aggressive management, but just that focusing on the issue only being a second job leaves open the possibility there are other distractions at play.

    1. EPLawyer*

      See I was thinking she could be monitoring her kids in another room because of lack of childcare. Indeed we could speculate all day. It does not necessarily have to be a second job.

      As Alison and everyone else says, it doesn’t matter WHY she is distracted, only that something is distracting her. Put her on PIP with a short time frame. Make sure she understands clearly what she must do. Make sure she has the tools to achieve it (if its monitoring her kids, not just say You cannot watch your kids during the day but point her to resources for daycare). Then if she does not improve, fire her.

      1. PT*

        This was my thought, too. A lot of schools went back to in-person classes, but some kids weren’t able to go back due to being medically high risk (or having a family member who is medically high risk) as COVID precautions decreased with in-person schooling. They’ve now been shifted to their district’s online academies, or pulled from school entirely to be homeschooled. Especially if Ariel lives in a “red” district that doesn’t believe in masking or vaccines and just wants things back to normal save for the horse paste at snacktime.

      2. Le Sigh*

        Resources for daycare might not mean much, depending on where she lives. In addition to what PT said, I have a lot of friends and coworkers with daycare and elementary-age kids who are in daycare/school for two days, then have to stay home because of a COVID scare, back to school, another shutdown, etc. And that’s IF they’ve been able to find a daycare — some are dealing with months-long waiting lists because of shortages and cannot find in-home care for similar reasons. They’re having to take turns with spouses or family (if available) watching the kids when this happens, work weird hours to play catch up, and it’s really taking a toll on them.

        Now, I don’t mean that to say the employer has to put up with poor output (and it’s not to say that’s what’s going on with Ariel). But pointing someone to resources for daycare isn’t a lot of help right now and might even feel tone-deaf depending on what a person is dealing with.

      3. Candi*

        Resources for daycare don’t mean much short-term, even in good times.

        A couple years before the 2008 recession hit, I worked in a daycare. People would throw conniption fits about us actually insisting kids obey the rules, like not hitting or stealing other kids’ snacks. They’d yank the kid out, saying they would find somewhere else.

        We’d have their hole filled by the time they came whimpering back. Every. single.daycare in the county that wasn’t bad or brand-new had a waiting list six weeks long, at least.

        I’ve heard it’s worse now. A lot of daycares are small businesses, and they had to outright close.

  8. Ahdez*

    Perhaps clarifying team norms around video calls would be an easy way to start. Her manager could ask her specifically to remain on video and unmuted for whole meetings and see how she responds.

    1. Siege*

      That feels like sending out a team-wide email to address one person’s behavior to me. It doesn’t sound like that’s a team norm anyway, but it’s also a problem if she has a lot of background noise (I have construction up the street, this is very present for me) or if what’s really happening is she’s gambling online on the second computer, using this job to cover her winnings for tax purposes, and talking to her partner, who she lives with. That would be punitive to the partner without getting to the root of the problem – the partner is allowed to make noise in their own home. I think focusing on the PIP due to the effect of all this is probably more likely to get to a satisfactory result, but we’ll probably never know what’s actually happening.

      1. Anoni*

        It’s not great. At one job our manager thought it would be a good idea to announce during a team meeting that it’s not okay to watch DVDs during work. The ONLY person who was doing it knew exactly who she meant, as did the rest of us, but it was the kind of thing that could have just been discussed one on one with no embarrassment caused.

        That manager wasn’t the greatest, to be honest.

    2. Overeducated*

      I would not recommend asking her to stay unmuted the whole meeting, you don’t know if that will make it even worse for the team. Sometimes my icon lights up on a video meeting as though I’m speaking on mute when there is no one in the room – it’s because my street is an emergency route and my mic picks up the noise from sirens going by RIGHT outside my window, and muting is a courtesy. (When on video, it’s obvious I’m not speaking, but we tend to turn off videos whenever someone has connection issues to reduce bandwidth, so I was wondering if background noise/connection could be issues for Ariel. That said, she has to get her work done, I’m just not sure the meeting issues are a smoking gun here.)

    3. Candi*

      Bad bad bad idea.

      My current apartment is pretty close to an intersection. (It’s also both nice and cheap.) If you made me leave mute off, especially if I had to have the windows open due to heat or something, you’d be getting all the noise.

      There’s a fire station less than a mile from here. One of the roads in that intersection is a major road. Guess how many times I’ve taken off my headphones to doublecheck if the sirens were in the street or the music.

  9. Charlotte Lucas*

    Ariel sounds like a bad employee, but I don’t work 2 jobs & often drop off camera when I have been in meetings all morning & need to get up to get something to eat or drink. And I talk to myself all the time – and it’s in everyone’s best interest if I don’t unmute.

    Some people do set up a second laptop as an additional screen. I use mine sometimes to check how online stuff works on the user end.

    That being said, I pay attention in meetings (as long as management doesn’t send me urgent messages) & know where to find files.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think there is something to this – an employee who is good at their job will get more leeway than an employee who seems to be struggling. It sounds like Ariel is struggling, and the why she is struggling is far less important than improving the performance.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Taken individually, each of her actions is normal. But considering everything together, it’s reasonable to suspect there’s something going on (though not necessarily a second job).

    3. desdemona*

      This was my thinking as well. Especially during allergy season, I drop off camera a lot just to blow my nose and throw the tissues out…nobody needs to watch me blowing my nose and then leaning away to reach the trash can.

      I’m also in plenty of meetings where someone has set up a 2nd monitor and is looking at zoom on the bigger screen but using their laptops built-in camera. So they ARE looking at us, but it doesn’t look like it.

      There are other problems with her work. Those need to be addressed. Weird meeting behavior can be asked about by her manager, and either ask her to adjust or understand her workflow looks weird when filmed.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Sure. I’m very likely to be talking to a dog while on mute (“can you wait just FIVE MINUTES until this meeting is over?”), or turning my camera off because my internet is spotty at home. But if you’re doing these things and still engaging in online meetings and getting all your work done, a good manager should notice that, and realize it’s not an issue.

  10. Guacamole Bob*

    As someone who has worked remotely in the last year and a half with two kids remote schooling downstairs, contractors showing up to deal with a basement flood, and various other distractions, it may or may not be a second job. A second job would fit the facts neatly, but potentially so would someone trying to make a lot of phone calls to deal with an aging parent’s medical issues while using a personal laptop to email her kid’s teacher about an IEP issue.

    The why doesn’t really matter. Deal with the distraction and work quality, the denials (which seem like a really huge problem!) as the issues they are. Ariel can let you know if there’s a reason that you should work with her through this (e.g. a family medical issue).

    1. DataGirl*

      Well said. Before working from home I had no idea how many people just show up at my house during the day, despite no soliciting signs. Then there’s kids, pets, partners who don’t understand that just because they aren’t working right then doesn’t mean you are available to talk… So lots of reasons for distractions, the important piece is how they deal with them.

      1. Candi*

        One of the benefits of moving from a rental house to an apartment (besides insulation that works) is the apartment’s policy about solicitors -they are not allowed on the property, at all. Nope, not even charity or church stuff. Which I don’t feel bad about -invariably, the ones that come to the door are of the sketchier variety trying to use in-person pressure to pony up money, volunteer time, or attendance. The charities ratings’ are universally terrible, and the churches have awful LGBT+ records.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I liked the kids’ sports team coordinator example upthread. Which is a lot of hours BUT they are unpaid hours so it’s not two jobs so it’s fine!

  11. Ginger*

    Is she definitely looking at laptop or is it another screen? Maybe she is taking virtual classes? Just playing devil’s advocate for a second.

    If her LinkedIN doesn’t show the role, what does it show as her current employment? I have so many questions :)

    If I were the OP’s friend – I’d be a bit wary of the whole team ganging up on someone. Feedback – great, sharing observations – also great. But make sure it doesn’t turn into a witch hunt.

    1. Sleet Feet*

      I don’t think not updating the time is such a smoking gun. A lot of people wait to update their roles until they have some accomplishments to put under it. I changed jobs in May 2020 and only updated my role yesterday.

      I’d be beyond miffed if someone pointed to this as evidence that I’m working 2 jobs.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        But presumably you aren’t also doing all the things described in the OP (working on another computer, etc). I think a Linked In profile showing another current employment would be “corroborating” information in OPs case.

        1. Sleet Feet*

          I disagree if it’s her previous employer. Again some people don’t update their profile that often even if they are going online to read articles etc. Being distravted at your new job and not updating your LinkedIn aren’t evidence you are working two jobs. A lot of people are depressed/anxious and distracted right now.

          It’d be different if she went and updated her profile with a new employer that wasn’t her current job.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Being kind and supportive while working with Ariel (or anyone) is fair – but it’s also important to be fair to the rest of the team and hold Ariel to the same standards that the other people were held to at the same point in their job at this organization. How many letters have we gotten from the teammates who are upset that they are constantly being expected to carry another person’s dead weight on a work team? It’s a balancing act for management to be sure.

    3. Teapot Repair Technician*

      My LinkedIn still indicates the job I left several months ago. I updated it when I was job searching, but haven’t thought about it since because it serve no purpose for me.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I am kinda fascinated by her being very active on LinkedIn while making no reference to her actual job or employer.

    5. flatline*

      You can be active on LinkedIn quire easily without updating your profile. It’s not your own profile that pops up first on either the app or the browser website, it’s the newsfeed. You can be active in the newsfeed, or looking at other people’s profiles, without ever having to look at your own profile. You can also be looking at job listings, out of curiosity, or to compare pay rates to your own, or for a friend/family member who is job hunting.

      Or because you employer is weirdly paranoid that you are working a second job, to the point of wanting to put you on a PIP for it without actually taking the first step of asking you how you are going and explaining any actual issues, all because you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile.

  12. Michelle Smith*

    I completely agree. You don’t go in making unnecessary accusations. For all you know, it’s her personal laptop and she is dealing with some major personal matters, like remotely managing elderly family members’ medical care. When the judge I worked for had elderly parents, she was frequently dropping off chambers meetings and interrupting court appearances to take phone calls and was clearly distracted by looking at her cell phone routinely. There are other explanations for someone’s inattentive conduct than a second, unauthorized job.

    What needs to happen is that management needs to (1) tell her that there is a problem without making unwarranted assumptions about the cause, (2) ask what’s going on, if she’s willing to tell them, from an eye of supporting her to becoming the focused and productive employee they need and (3) focusing on impact and results in the PIP and future evaluations.

  13. BlueberryFields*

    This sounds like the other side of the August 26 update (updates: the ex’s hostile friend, the bait and switch, and more), where the LW asked, “Can I work a second job at my first job if things are slow?”

  14. 2cents*

    Not sure how their company’s data privacy settings is set up, but I’d be really concerned if I saw someone else working on another laptop (not company-issued) during working hours. Conducting work in a non-secure asset is an absolute no-go where I work so perhaps that’s another way for the manager to approach her.

    1. DataGirl*

      I have had to do work on a non-work laptop because I didn’t have the software I need on my work laptop. Heck, the first 3 months of my job I had to bring in a personal laptop every day to the office because it took that long for IT to get me a computer. I agree it’s not secure, but in my organization it’s almost a given that people will be using personal computers, especially if they are working from home.

      1. quill*

        I took the path of least resistance and did some minor photoshop work on my personal laptop before emailing it to my company laptop: because I had the software and it was only going to happen once.

        The difference being that nobody probably considered me fussing with our company logo to make a good presentation background confidential in any way.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yeah. What I look at is what is available to outside people. I’m usually just trying to see how it works outside my system.

    2. mediamaven*

      That’s a really good point. I realized after learning that my employee was likely working for me and another company at the same time that she had never even used her company laptop. Very unsafe for us.

    3. Siege*

      I’ve had to work on my personal computer several times. I smashed my work computer by accident and it took a week to get a new one. I needed to be “in” 2 zooms at once for a conference so both teams could contact me quickly as the organizer. I had a mic problem I got tired of dealing with. It’s not inherently a problem – it’s not NOT a problem, and there’s certainly no extenuating circumstances being presented – but I wouldn’t rank that as more of a problem than all the other parts of not doing her job.

      1. Littorally*

        It very much depends on the industry. My industry is closer to 2cents’ — someone working on a personal computer while also being logged into their work computer would be a serious concern, for both security and regulatory issues.

        1. Siege*

          Right, in something like finance this would be a big deal, but I also assume that the options would be more clear-cut at that point, wouldn’t they? Creating the impression you’re using a non-approved laptop during work hours would pretty much have to be instant termination, or some VERY pointed questions with instant termination as the likely outcome, I’d think. I don’t think this is the kind of detail someone could gloss over for the sake of the question, since it provides the answer right in the problem! :)

        2. PT*

          I was nonprofit and HAHAHAHAHAHAHA at anyone having a company laptop.

          There was one company laptop for something like 15 employees to share. It had Windows XP or Vista in 2017 and took 10 minutes to boot up, and it weighed 6 pounds. If you needed to use it for a presentation you had to BYO adapters because it couldn’t connect to projectors or TVs because it was so old it didn’t have the right ports. If you had to do work away from work or conduct trainings, you were using your own laptop. And if you didn’t have a desk because you were a part-time supervisor and weren’t deemed important enough to have your own desk, you were displacing a full-time employee from their desk when you had to do your job.

          1. Mannequin*

            What if you didn’t own a personal laptop?! I know plenty of people who have a desktop at home, and a smartphone, but don’t own a laptop or tablet.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – I have a coworker who doesn’t get a laptop – IT put their foot down after he killed number 4 in seven months by “over sanitizing.” I don’t know (or want to know) what that means. Just having a wonky computer set-up doesn’t phase me at all.

        Honestly, I would focus on work impacts through a PIP and coaching. Fix the problems without focusing on extraneous details.

        1. Candi*

          He was probably one of those dolts who spray the cleaner right on the keyboard. Even keyboards that are just keyboards can’t take that for long, and laptop keyboards, urgh. And from the sound of it, he did it a lot, all in the name of “cleanliness”.

    4. Le Sigh*

      I think this is probably industry dependent. I can’t access my VPN on my personal computer, but I have definitely done work on a personal laptop out of necessity.

      Alternately, maybe she really prefers a second monitor, had one lying around, didn’t see any rules about using outside equipment, and set it up. If she’s like me, she puts her Zoom on one monitor and keeps talking points and notes on the other screen for reference, because trying to do everything off one darn laptop screen makes her pull her hair out (I try to set this up in a way that doesn’t look TOO obvious, but I’m sure it’s clear I’m looking at another screen sometimes).

      1. Candi*

        I’ve got a friggin’ hub set up to handle all the extra stuff I have hooked up to my laptop. Wireless keyboard (solar-powered!), a wired mid-level gaming mouse that also works great for general use, a 20″ monitor, a wireless speaker (Bluetooth, but it requires the USB thing inserted so the computer will talk to it), and a drawing tablet (hobby stuff). The only things plugged into the laptop itself are the hub and the USB thing for my wireless mouse for when I have to go out and about. (I hate trackpads.)

  15. DataGirl*

    I agree focusing on the performance is key. I think the LW is likely right and this person is doing something other than working for their company during company time, however I can also think of reasons why the person would appear distracted in a meeting that have nothing to do with a second job. Personally I have 3 monitors, but only 1 webcam, so often on meetings I will be looking at something offside because I’m referencing a document or spreadsheet on another monitor. There’s also been times when I had to use multiple laptops because my work laptop didn’t have the software I needed but I had it on my personal laptop (a totally separate and probably unique problem, I realize). If someone sees me talking while on mute… I’m likely yelling at a misbehaving pet, or a kid is talking at me from another room, something like that. So again, focus on the performance- whatever the distractions are, they need to find a way to mitigate them, or the company can’t keep employing them.

    1. Anon for this*

      I would agree with you on that, but there’s also the fact that she’s been denying that she’s doing it. It’s one thing to reply to confused coworkers with “oh, sorry, family member was pestering me/pet puked on the rug”, it’s another thing entirely to just… say you’re not doing something you’re clearly doing.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The denying it’s happening is odd – but I have worked with many people who “think out loud” without realizing just how much out loud thinking they are doing.

      2. DataGirl*

        Good point. I definitely think there’s something hinky happening with this person- just don’t think focusing on ‘it’s a second job’ is all that helpful when the manager can easily focus on performance.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, I’m usually on 3 or 4 monitors for a meeting (typically meeting video/chat, meeting agenda, and additional supporting/reference documentation each get a monitor), but I actively mention to people that that’s why I keep looking away if I’m doing it while speaking! (“Hang on, I’m going to put that spreadsheet on the bigger monitor I have over here” or whatever.) I would certainly not hesitate to explain it if someone mentioned I looked distracted. The denials make it seem like it’s not for a reason that she’d be comfortable explaining. (Which could still be a good reason, depending. “Sorry, my upstairs neighbors are having loud sex again” would be both a good reason to keep muting during a work call and incredibly awkward to explain.)

        Also, my being on multiple monitors during a meeting doesn’t distract me from the actual meeting, because those monitors are things about the meeting that help me make better contributions to the meeting discussion. The performance issues make that a less likely explanation here.

  16. Kaboom22*

    There are databases you can sign up for that do a job check. I use them for my job in compliance. Equifax The Work Number is one of them. The people I run them on consent to this check however. Idk the legalities of running it on random people.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It requires the person’s authorization; you can’t do it without their permission. (It’s also notoriously incomplete; employers have to opt in to provide data and many don’t, particularly smaller employers.)

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        Accurint, which derives much of its information from credit headers (including where you work), allows one to search its information for compliance and legal purposes. If the company has a legal department, it undoubtedly has a lawyer who does HR work and who can check one Accurint or a related database for legal purposes (which would include firing Ariel or a mutual agreement that she would leave and, in return for severance, sign an agreement not to sue).

        While I agree that management here should be dealing with Ariel on the basis of her poor performance, the bottom line is that a motivated employer CAN find out if someone is working a second job. So, when an employee is working for an employer who explicitly forbids moonlighting, those who do moonlight assume a risk. Whether that risk is worth it depends on the individual.

        1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          This wouldn’t cover employers that opt not to provide data, employers that employees don’t list on credit applications or social media sites (I don’t list all of mine), contract work, volunteer work, or possibly even rehire work for an old employer.

          Yes, it’s possible to find this out sometimes, but there’s no fool-proof way. It’s also not wrong to hold multiple jobs and this is the wrong focus.

          1. pancakes*

            Right – if she was, for example, giving language lessons or piano lessons or tutoring under the table, those aren’t jobs that would show up in the database. There are many, many, many things people do for money on an informal basis.

      2. Kaboom22*

        Yes, it only has the companies that choose to submit the info. I didn’t mean to imply they should do it, just that a system does exist. Which makes it weirder that people can have two jobs and not get caught in a background check.

    2. Crazy Plant Lady*

      I wouldn’t put full faith in these databases. I assume it’s some sort of database like this that mortgage companies use for pulling work history. Every mortgage and refinance I’ve applied for has pulled up both my actual current job as well as a summer job I worked at in high school and college (more than 20 years ago), saying that I still work there and have continuously. If someone pulled that up, they could erroneously think I’m currently working two jobs, which I’m very much not.

  17. Lucious*

    There’s two topics to unpack. Ariels individual performance & the topic of working two full time jobs as a negative.

    Ariels performance is addressed by Alisons comment here:

    >> But you also don’t really need to. If Ariel isn’t attentive during meetings, doesn’t retain information, and isn’t generally isn’t doing a good job, those are all things her manager can and should should address forthrightly.

    The other element of her (potentially) working two jobs shouldn’t even be relevant- yet it’s perhaps the most salient . Why? Obviously working 8 hours + in a physical location precludes working somewhere else at the same time. But remote work for some jobs has made this feasible. Companies and managers with a mindset of assuming exclusive control over their remote employees time during working hours must face the prospect that may not be the case. If an employee meets the performance expectations of two employers, is it a breach of ethics for them to hold two full time jobs without either firm being aware?

    Does a wage equate to automatic 100% exclusive commitment of that employees time? Or does an employer’s wage entitle them to output alone ? Tricky questions, these.

    1. Nanani*

      Eh, not really. There are jobs you could have done while physically in an office. It wouldn’t have been smart, but you could, for instance, do writing for a second job while at your desk for your first job.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        There have been AAM letters and comments from people with coworkers caught working a second job while at the office of their first job. In some ways the first job’s office situation was used to benefit the second job (using postal services on the first company’s dime and other resources).

        I also think the framing of “companies have total control” isn’t quite accurate. Your employer pays you for your time and labor; if you happen to be efficient and finish your work in fewer than 8 hours/day, you’re still engaged by that company to be available when needed. It’s not control, it’s a business exchange.

        To me, the test is disclosure. If you have to keep each job a secret from the other because you suspect you’ll be fired if either find out, then it’s unethical. If you tell each job about the other and both agree that the situation works for them, you’re clear.

    2. Anonym*

      Beyond the (interesting!) philosophical angle, there’s also the very concrete terms of employment possibility. My company requires that you get permission before taking on any other job or income-producing activity, and failing to do so is grounds for termination. Now, it is in finance, so there could be any number of reasons beyond just “all your work are belong to us” but I imagine there are other companies and industries that have similar policies.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I work for a government agency and we have to disclose outside jobs and fiduciary responsibilities to other organizations (like being a board member for a nonprofit) if our roles ever have us involved in procurement, contracting, or vendor management, due to conflict of interest and other ethics and procurement rules. I think that’s pretty standard in many organizations.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This is common for government agencies, government contractors, & highly regulated industries. But they usually don’t care if you have an unrelated part-time job. They do care if, for example, your spouse sits on a BOD for an industry organization.

          1. Anonym*

            They also care if you fail to disclose according to their policies, even if the side job is itself unproblematic.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              Yes, this. Our agency is large and multifaceted, and they want to know everyone’s outside involvement so that people with a higher-level view can make the call about whether something is relevant because connections crop up all over the place. It might not matter if Joe from HR waits tables on the side, but if the teapot outreach department starts using that restaurant to cater their events, the people in charge of all the ethics and conflict of interest stuff are going to be grouchy that they didn’t know about it ahead of time. Chances may be high it won’t matter at all, but that’s not really something Joe can decide on his own. They may well want to document that none of the people on the vendor selection panel have Joe as an HR rep, in case of future regulatory audit.

      2. HelenofWhat*

        I guffawed so suddenly at the unexpected “all your base” reference that I caught a cramp. And now I’m laughing at that. Thanks!

    3. JLP*

      I think that depends on if it’s an hourly or salary employee and the nature of the work agreement. If hourly, then yes, the employer gets the commitment of the time during the paid hours (occasional personal stuff excluded). If exempt salary, there may be more flexibility (depending on the employer and culture) and the output matters more than the time spent.

      For example, I work a full-time and a part-time job that both have flexible hours. So sometimes I bounce around from one to another throughout the day. Other people at my full-time job will leave for their kids’ stuff, take naps, etc, to ensure everything is taken care of.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But taking advantage of downtime or shifting work to meet your daily needs is a far cry from sitting in on a meeting while you’re working your other job.

    4. Colette*

      I’d argue that it’s only ethical to work on one job while at another job (virutally or physically) if the job you’re at knows about it and agrees. Your output will necessarily be lower if you’re doing more than one thing, and there’s too much chance for other unethical behaviour. If it’s truly a job where you can do another job (e.g. receptionist where you’re not busy and can work on your web design business), you should be able to talk to your manager about it and get it approved.

      If she were working one job from 7 – 3 and another one from 3 – 11, that would be OK (assuming no conflict of interest); but she’s missing stuff in meetings because she’s not paying attention. If that’s because she’s working on another paid job during that time, that’s not OK.

    5. Anon for this*

      It really depends on the job, and the expectations of the job. My department’s ideal state, when all is said and done, is taking it easy with some free time each day after all tasks are done, because we also spin into emergency response mode at the drop of a hat and if our regular work filled all our working hours, we wouldn’t be able to handle the transition into emergency mode while still getting our regular work done. If someone on my team were to get a second, full time, job, because they think it’s constantly slow, this would interfere with their ability to handle emergencies, especially if said second job also has set hours that need to be worked. If you’re in a job where part of the expectation is that you be available at certain times (for example, the meetings the OP mentions), you aren’t just being paid to complete tasks, you’re being paid to be available at specific times. Some jobs don’t require that. Some do. Some jobs do require that, but the pay/benefits are not sufficient to support people filling the requirement. These jobs have high turnover.

  18. ThatGirl*

    Years ago when I was a contractor I had a fellow contractor who was also part-owner of a coffee shop franchise, but he led us to believe it was hands-off. He took advantage of the lenient work from home policy there a lot. And then we realized he was very slow to respond to emails and wasn’t getting his work done — turned out he’d been mostly working at/from the coffee shop and was let go pretty quickly.

    But I agree that there’s no need to prove a second job; sounds like she’s failing pretty badly at this one.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I once got a job where my predecessor had been doing something very similar. For a while I was able to skate along on the glow of approval I got from simply showing up for work!

      1. WS*

        Same, though in my predecessor’s case it was an MLM. But I turned up on time and was available during the work day, wow!

  19. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    I work for a state tax department. One of the conditions of employment is accurately and timely paying your taxes. So working under the table would get you fired. (and probably audited). Also they’d know you had at least some kind of 2nd job just from the W2’s. They might not know when you are working the 2nd job or how much you are working but they’d know. There is also a no conflict of interest policy so certain types of 2nd jobs are not allowed. They recently came up with a form you have to fill out if you except any other employment so they can verify that 2nd Job isn’t a conflict of interest. That having been said, somethings that struck me in the letter. “appearing to be speaking while on mute despite being alone” If she works from home how do you know if she is alone or not? Because this sounds awfully like nosy gossipy coworker syndrome to me? Does she have a room mate? A pet? Talks to herself? All NOYB. “observed a pattern of her frequently looking at a second laptop” Maybe she has a podcast playing in the background or Pandora open. I binge watch YouTube how to videos as I work and as long as my work is done accurately and in a timely manner my boss could careless. Not that I’d do this in a video call though. “For context, this is at a pretty well-known company in the Bay Area with all the perks, benefits, and six-figure compensation package that comes with it. I totally empathize with those who are forced to work multiple full-time jobs to make ends meet when our minimum wage is abysmal and unsustainable most places nationwide!” Her financial situation is her concern not her coworkers. Maybe she’s a big FIRE fan or a Dave Ramsey Baby Stepper and she’s trying to maximize all the income she can. As far as the distractedness and the “failing to remember the most basic of information” that’s certainly a PIP issue. Doesn’t really matter the why. If she is having performance issues address the issues not the speculation about why she’s having issues.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I should also say that state department does have rules about you being expected to work your core hours and 2nd Job is expected to not interfere with that.

  20. Salad Daisy*

    We had an employee who we discovered was working at a second job while in our office. They would log in to their other job, which was remote, from our company computer while sitting in their cubicle in our office. This was discovered when they had gone away from their desk and a coworker stopped by to ask a question and saw their monitor. Obviously, they were terminated.

  21. Jonathan Kamens*

    We had a contractor working for us (supposedly full-time hours) who it turned out was also working another full-time job. Her LinkedIn listed the full-time job but not us. When confronted about it she claimed repeatedly to have resigned a while back from the other job, but she never indicated that on her LinkedIn despite it being actively maintained (if you were accused of working two jobs, wouldn’t you update your LinkedIn if that wasn’t true?), and we ended up being in communication with the other employer and they confirmed she was working for them. We have reason to believe — due to someone else having contacted us about the situation — that at one point she was actually working _three_ jobs, the full-time job and two contractor jobs.

    She denied it up until the end despite the fact that we had ample evidence that she was lying. We ended up terminating our contract with her over it. The cover-up was definitely worse than the crime.

    I think the credit-reporting agencies have data about full-time jobs (though probably not contract jobs), so I imagine one way to confirm it may be to pull a credit report, with the employee’s permission. In our case we didn’t need to do this because we had plenty of other proof of what was going on.

    1. Tinker*

      Asking out of curiosity, likely with a side of pointedness: The entire focus of this story is on whether this contractor had customers other than you, and when you discovered that they did you terminated their contract for that reason. It seems like ordinarily a contractor’s other customers and how they manage their workload would be their own business. How is this person correctly classified as a contractor?

  22. HWA*

    Playing devil’s advocate, but not necessarily saying she’s not working a second job. Last year, when my stress was sky high and I was having daily panic attacks, I was in school. Zoom classes were part of that. The problem was, zoom was making me nauseous. If I looked at the screen too long, I would feel dizzy and want to vomit. With the panic attacks came fidgeting, talking to myself constantly with my mouth moving, and my brain zoning out so often that I had to put all my energy into staying present. Now, still in classes, no panic attacks for a month now and I’m back to normal and not doing any of those things.

    As a student, it’s easier to let the instructor know why I was looking to the side of my computer whenever I started feeling sick. If I was in a work environment, I probably wouldn’t have said anything as I’ve never worked at a place where I trusted my boss or coworkers enough to share those issues.

  23. Clay*

    So hypothetically, if she were able to do both jobs effectively without anyone noticing, would it be acceptable for her to have 2 full time jobs in the first place?

    1. Threeve*

      Having two full-time jobs? Totally fine. Being on the clock (as it were, I know she’s salaried) for both of them at the same time? Not so much, even if it goes unnoticed.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, I mean, if you have flexible enough schedules that you truly aren’t shirking your responsibility to either job, then I don’t think it’s unethical. You’d be working a lot, but people do that all the time. People probably overestimate their ability to juggle work like that, though, so I imagine it rarely works out well.

      2. KateM*

        What about if there was one job that was salaried butt-in-seat one and another which paid by work done?

        Say, I knew someone whose job was to sit in office and wait until someone called. It didn’t happen often, but they did need her sitting and waiting there (nobody else in office). What if she had been knitting stuff for her etsy shop while waiting for calls?

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          I would be outraged if I discovered my sweater-knitter occasionally stopped knitting to answer the phone. When I buy a sweater on Etsy, I expect it to be completed in one smooth, uninterrupted motion.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          It all hinges on what the specific management allows. If it was approved by management, no problem. But I had an office job similar to that, and I wasn’t even allowed to read a book at my desk. The position wasn’t front-facing, no customers ever came to that office, and my cube walls hid me entirely from sight of any coworker. I still wasn’t even allowed to read during my hours of down-time every day. For the record, I think that was absolutely ridiculous but I abided by it because I didn’t want to find a new job for the summer.

    2. Nanani*

      I think maybe yes? Sometimes?
      If by “without anyone noticing” we mean “performing both jobs to a high standard” as well as presence things like not missing meetings from one to attend meetings from the other.
      And assuming that neither job has a rule or contractual clause precluding it, no conflict of interest, etc.

      Theoretically possible. Lots of particular impossibilities, and unlikely to be feasible for most people in most combinations of jobs. But possible.

    3. Paris Geller*

      I’m very curious as to how people answer this question! I feel like the general consensus is “no”, and I’m curious as to why. It seems in particular we think white collar office work should be a “one job & you’re done” thing, but that ignores the reality that many, many people work multiple full-time minimum wage jobs in retail, food service, etc. to make ends meet. I think it’s probably because most of the time when we hear about people working two full time jobs like this, the reality is that they’re not really working “full-time” at either–they’re double-dipping and maybe working 4 hours at one job and 4 hours at another for a full work day. That is a problem, but I wonder if people would have the same reaction to someone working a full 8 hours at one job and a full 8 hours at another, even if those hours were intermingled? That’s a 16 hour work day so I don’t see how that could be sustainable long term, but again, people often do that with minimum or low wage jobs if they have to.

      1. Sleet Feet*

        I believe peoples objections are to the double dipping aspect. With retail you never get paid by both companies for the same hour of work.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yes, plus with retail or food service the value of your work is more obvious and immediate. If you don’t show up, you don’t get paid. Or if you show up but fall asleep in a closet, someone is probably going to notice…

    4. mediamaven*

      Do you think your boss would see nothing wrong with you having another full time job? That should answer your question.

      1. nothing rhymes with purple*

        That assumes the boss is necessarily right. There are many examples in the archives here of bosses thinking it’s wrong for employees to do things the employees are not wrong to do, from taking medical leave to having same-sex partners. So whether or not the boss would mind still doesn’t resolve whether or not the boss _should_ mind.

      2. Sleet Feet*

        Well I’ve had bosses object to me taking a 3 week vacation for a wedding (not a good enough reason), getting upset that an employee was “pumping longer then we expected”, having a side gig that they worked after hours (they are salaried so all hours are my time!), being angry when employees set boundaries and don’t answer calls on evenings or weekends …

        So no I don’t think. Will a manager be upset by this? Is the gold standard of ethics and what is OK at work.

        Ive run into this sentiment a lot prior to Covid with folks who automate portions of their work. Is it unethical to automate some reports and then take advantage of the free time you have created in your workday? I say no. Some people say yes. To me it boils down to there is nothing wrong with an individual contributor reaping the maximum benefits from their labors – especially in a system where the rich get richer at the expense of the middle and lower class. The system is stacked against the IC so more power to anyone who makes it work for them I say.

        1. quill*

          Yeah. For me the boundary is “are you shirking one job to do another” so I’d be far more wary of someone trying to do work at two jobs at once, compared to knitting for their etsy shop when things were slow and putting it down when needed.

    5. Littorally*

      Depends on the job(s). In some industries, this would be a conflict-of-interest issue or a regulatory issue. In mine (securities), I have to get permission from my industry employer for all business activities, even if they’re done only on my own time.

    6. Oh No She Di'int*

      So I actually disagree with the consensus opinion.

      First off, everything I say is predicated on the assumption that performance is not suffering for either job. So the objection of “You can’t do two jobs well” is irrelevant in my scenario. Also, I assume no conflicts of interest such as working for a firm and a client of that firm at the same time.

      Barring those situations, I actually see no ethical violation here. Now hold on to your hats because this is really going to blow some minds: I have encouraged my employees to do other work on company time if they can do so without harming their work output for our company. I don’t own these people, even during the 8 hours a day they are working for me. If they can find a way to do 8 hours of output in 4 hours (through efficiencies, automation, whatever) I encourage it, and they should be the ones to benefit from it. Alternatively, I’m fine with them just watching TV, petting their dog, or whatever during the extra hours.

      I think another thread here addresses the fact that our models of work are changing. I think the future of work is for people to claim more sovereignty over their own time, not less.

      1. Littorally*

        My problem with this is that you’re handwaving an awful lot of stuff that’s really pretty material in the long run — performance, productivity, conflicts of interest, regulatory restrictions, etc.

        Petting the dog, watching TV, things like that are a very different ballgame from performing another employer’s work while reporting to you that they’re performing work for you.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Agreed – I feel like these arguments all seem to be like “assuming that absolutely everything goes perfectly and there are no issues and no effects on anything then it will be fine”, or more succinctly “assuming that everything is fine then everything will be fine”. It’s a lot of big assumptions to base a hypothetical on, to the point that I’m not sure the hypothetical is of much use.

        2. Oh No She Di'int*

          Please go back and read the 2nd paragraph of my comment. I specifically said that those things would have to be dealt with before you can proceed with any further assumptions.

          I don’t encourage them to report to me that they are doing work for me when they are not. I encourage them to get their work done (well) in the least amount of time that makes sense to them. If they have extra time at the end of that, they can do whatever they want to with it. They tell me about going to the farmer’s market or picking their kids up from daycare all the time. I don’t care. The work gets done.

          1. Chantel*

            Farmer’s markets and other non-work errands while on the clock?

            That doesn’t sound like a sustainable business model at all.

            1. Unaccountably*

              You’ve never run errands or gone to the store at lunchtime? If having employees who do that made businesses unsustainable there would shortly be no businesses left.

      2. Mental Lentil*

        I completely agree. If you can do both jobs to the standard required, have no conflicts of interest, have no regulatory issues, this is not an issue.

        Work is a business transaction. Nobody is doing anybody any favors. You need me to get some work done and you are willing to exchange money with me for just that. I do X amount of work and you pay me Y amount of money. When X and Y is not acceptable to either of us, we can either renegotiate or go our separate ways. This is not difficult in concept.

    7. Teapot Repair Technician*

      It depends on what the two jobs are. If you work in an office during the day and babysit in the evenings and on weekends, it would be hard to argue there’s any conflict.

      1. TechWorker*

        Agreed, but I don’t think that’s what’s most people are discussing here when they talk about ‘having two full time jobs’. It’s specifically the concept of working for both employers for the same hours that concerns me.

    8. anonymous73*

      If you’re talking about working 2 full time 9-5 jobs then I would say absolutely not. There should be no overlap of hours. Just because it’s feasible doesn’t make it right. If hours are flexible, you can manage it, and there’s no conflict of interest from one to the other then I don’t see it as an issue.

        1. anonymous73*

          If you think it’s okay to work 2 jobs simultaneously with the same mandated hours every day, both logistically and ethically, then there’s nothing more I can say to elaborate on my original post, which I’m pretty sure explains my “argument”.

        2. Simply the best*

          For every job I’ve worked, that just isn’t a thing. There’s no I got all my work done in 30 hours as opposed to 40. There is always more work to be done. And I think jobs that aren’t like mine are rarer than people think. So the hypotheticals that people keep postulating here are just that. Hypotheticals that hand wave away real life.

  24. Construction Safety*

    Circa 1995, Houston ship channel area. There was a maintenance foreman at one of the big chemical plants who rode a buggy around all day making sure all the assigned work was being done. Communicated a lot by radio. Word was that he was pretty good at his job. The problem was that he was doing the same job for the plant next door (common fence) at the same time. It was eventually discovered & he was terminated from both jobs.

  25. Anon Manager*

    OP, document, document, document. I went through this a couple years back. It was PAINFULLY obvious that he had a second job. I asked him about it and he denied it, but he had admitted to coworkers who came to me and complained about having to cover his work. None of this mattered, because despite us having a no moonlighting clause in our employee handbook, our legal team felt it wasn’t enforceable. We did eventually remove him on job performance and absenteeism, but our legal team was oddly gun-shy about us using any details of a potential second job in his PIPs and warnings. Luckily, I had it well documented whenever he didn’t show up, called off at the last minute, did shoddy work, or the one time he fell asleep in a meeting.

  26. Marcy Marketer*

    My dad owns his own business and he hired someone who never quit their old job. He was a sales person who kept selling for his old company while collecting a paycheck from my dad (both companies sold the same thing).

    My dad pretended to be a new lead and called the salesperson to set up a meeting. The sales person was selling him for his old company.

      1. Marcy Marketer*

        My dad is a man you don’t cross… he is very tenacious.

        He called the employee’s work number and pretended to be a potential client. While “working” in my dad’s office building this man tries to sell the client on his old company. I’m pretty sure my dad strung things along a bit and called a few times because he really wanted to get all the dirt, and get evidence that couldn’t be explained away.

        Then he called the guy (Dan) into his office and asked him about the client. Dan pretended he didn’t know what my dad was talking about. My dad said that he had spoken to the client and told him to call Dan to get services. Dan said oh yeah the client called but he wasn’t interested. My dad was like oh? I spoke to him and he said you had sent him to your old company. And Dan was like “what? So weird that’s not what happened.” My dad just wanted to let him dig himself as deep as it could get and kept giving him opportunities to lie. He did say Dan seemed to realize the jig was up but just kept committing to the lie no matter how hard he was pressed.

        Eventually my dad revealed he was the client. I imagine there was a lot of my dad quoting what was said on the phone and proving he was the client. Knowing my dad, I’m sure he tore into him about integrity. The man cried :( which is of course when my dad felt bad and I imagine backed off. And then of course fired him.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Holy cow, what a story! Seconding the request to share how the conversation went and what steps were taken next.

  27. Dream Jobbed*

    My current job, which moved me to my dream location, is not on my LinkedIn. Or Facebook. If you look at those you might think I still live in the Midwest instead the West Coast. Why? Because someone I had ended a friendship with 6 years earlier (due to a lot of creepy behavior and bad treatment of me), who would contact me about once every two years (usually with some horrible joke), sent me a text with the picture of my home that he took from his car. He lived 4 states away. I went out and told him to leave me alone and that escalated the texting abuse until I had to get two different police departments involved and he finally stopped.

    So people not listed jobs online may be due to privacy needs.

    1. quill*

      The idea that we should have our places of residence and current jobs available under our real names online all the time is kinda bizzare, to be honest.

      1. Nanani*

        IKR?
        These norms are so transparently thought up be relatively privileged and comfortable people who never had to consider stalkers, abusive exes or family members, having to be closeted about some aspects of one’s life, and so on.
        Down with real names online.

        1. quill*

          We see nothing but mounting evidence that the expectation of being non-pseudonymous is rife with problems, and yet it’s easier for advertisers if all our personal information is on facebook, so… facebook keeps on with a “legal names” rule, and other places follow suit.

    2. Never Boring*

      This is exactly why I got really pissed off when a former employer put our names and direct contact info on the website without even a heads-up to us first. My abusive ex was from a long time ago, and I hadn’t heard from him in many years, but I know for a fact that at least one other colleague had an abusive ex. (He’d gone to prison for attempted murder…of her.)

      1. Mannequin*

        I have an abusive ex from -1989- that still tries to keep tabs on me – from another state 1000s of miles away, with a wife & 3 kids.

        When they first found me on FB they made THREE new accounts to try and “friend” me, even though I blocked each & every one without comment as soon as I got the friend request.

        Now I go by a pseudonym.

  28. nerak*

    I feel like this is obvious, but has your friend done a google search on her? A lot of people will show up on their company’s websites as employees; maybe she would pop up someplace else? It wouldn’t necessarily mean she was currently working there if they didn’t update their site, but at least it could go towards confirming his suspicions.

  29. Healthcare Worker*

    At a previous job we had something similar happen, so the CEO hired a private investigator. Sure enough, the head of HR was working two full-time jobs. Boggled my mind!

    1. Sleet Feet*

      Wow. A CEO of a healthcare org wasted money on a PI to follow an employee instead of, you know, managing them.

      Did he even wait until the next quarter before announcing the staffing cuts and bemoaning that the system can’t afford to pay nurses more because all that Medicare bundling in the ACA?

  30. skunklet*

    So why such strange adherance to on camera calls? I work for a global, well known company and we always have online calls and we never have our cameras on (we’ve got folks overseas, incl at places w horrible cell or internet service – we’ve had calls occur while members are in an airport).
    If you remove that whole ‘on camera’ debacle, you’re left with “She also generally fails to remember the most basic of information about where team documents live.” – which doesn’t necessarily seem like a huge problem, although we don’t know what the job entails, etc.

    Maybe if they take out the insane adherance to on camera calls, that will solve part of the issue and actually make them see what the REAL effect is?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hard, hard disagree on the team documents issue being minor. That, to me, is a bigger deal than going off- and on-camera. I’ve been the team member who constantly had to remind a poor performer about the basics of our job, including how to name files, which sounds minor– but failing to remember that or figure it out can indicate a lack of resourcefulness that unnecessarily burdens the rest of the team. She’s not super new anymore, she should know how to navigate a shared drive.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Hard agree. I had a coworker who actually had the audacity to refer to me in a training session in front of our mutual manager as his “portable brain.” Fortunately for me my manager was so not amused that she paused the training to address the comments.

    2. anonymous73*

      Being on camera for meetings is not insane. There’s nothing more frustrating than being on a conference call with people who are not paying attention and you constantly have to repeat yourself over and over again – that wastes everyone’s time. Being on camera is effective and serves a purpose.

      1. skunklet*

        Not in all sectors and not all calls. I cannot imagine trying to get a call through to someone that’s sitting at an airport in Ghana or a hotel in Brazil.

        1. anonymous73*

          I never said it should be always and in every situation. But it’s not an “insane adherence” according to your original comment.

      2. Simply the best*

        The amount of times my Ops Manager had had to say “I can’t see you if you’re nodding, you have to speak!”

    3. TechWorker*

      Being on camera is not ‘insane’ (what?). Yes, you should think about whether it’s necessary and I have no problem if people decline – but like, building relationships with people you work with is infact a thing, and it can be much easier to discuss things when you have those non-verbal cues of agreement or disagreement.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, but you only get those non-verbal cues when you’re looking at others, not the camera. So the performative requirement to look at the camera, not an issue at my job, is stupid.

      2. skunklet*

        i didn’t say that being on camera was insane, i was referring to the adherance to it. is there team building? sure, but if a global, top 50 Fortune 500 company doesn’t REQUIRE it, then i’m sorry, I do have to question it for others. ymmv.

  31. Anonymous Educator*

    I agree with most folks here that the primary issue is the job performance, not the potential for the employee working a second job, but OP states:

    this is at a pretty well-known company in the Bay Area with all the perks, benefits, and six-figure compensation package that comes with it.

    If this is, say, a tech company, and Ariel is working at another tech company doing similar work, there may be a potential for conflict of interest (not just conflict of time/attention). Not saying the OP should immediately go to “Do you have a second job?” but whether Ariel does or not could be a problem outside of how it’s affecting her performance.

  32. NewYork*

    I think companies brought this on themselves, at least mine did. By combining sick days and vacation days as PTO, it is harder to stop employees from using PTO whenever they want, even during out busy season.

      1. NewYork*

        A company can say no vacation days during busy season. Instead we have people taking PTO and you cannot say anything

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          A company can still say no to pre-planned PTO during certain blackout dates. And if someone takes unplanned PTO because they’re sick, that’s a sick day they would have taken under either system. Or are you saying that people are lying about being sick? That’s another thing they could do under either system.

          Don’t get me wrong, one bucket does suck, but I don’t see how it’s relevant to the situation here, where someone is underperforming and appears to be slacking off while *not* on PTO.

  33. Benny*

    I disagree with people saying it doesn’t matter that they are working a second job, it should just be about performance. The OP says “well-known company in the Bay Area with all the perks, benefits, and six-figure compensation package”. So this kind of place will often make it very hard to fire people. Like seriously, it can take 6 months of excruciating monitoring, repeated conversations, mediations etc etc. It’s not like put them on a PIP, 3 weeks and you’re done. This kind of company is really, really scared of bad PR and will force managers to cross all t’s and dot all i’s, and offer many, many chances. So as a manager if you can just prove unethical behavior (like working 2 jobs without permission) it makes a world of difference in terms of how easy it is to fire.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh it matters. I just suspect it might not be the case here, so I would not lead with that. “Ariel, we believe you are working a second job while on our time”, Ariel proves that she doesn’t, and then what? as opposed to “Ariel, you are not doing a satisfactory job on X, Y, and Z and need to improve by W date.”

  34. CloudyintheCapital*

    Focus on the performance issues and tread carefully.

    There was someone at my job who had two part-time jobs on top of the full-time one and it was a poorly kept secret, and I’m not sure we could even call it a secret so many people knew about it.

    The two part-time ones were done via her cell phone.

    Did it impact her performance? Absolutely. Was the performance addressed? On occasion, by her director.

    She also had many health issues and vacation days – leading to a frequent absence that was always legit per HR and our collective agreement – so that it was hard to know if her performance issues was due to her health issues (requiring a sympathetic approach, and “how can we accommodate this?”) or her part-time jobs (requiring a “we need better attention to detail from you” approach). I suspect it was a touch of both.

    It was never settled and she’s now on leave.

  35. MJD*

    Another thing to look for in her socials is if she seems to be involved in an MLM (mentioning a specific product or brand a lot, etc.)–even if she’s not working a second full-time job, per se, she might have a time-consuming side hustle that she’s working on during business hours.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Nah—what she’s doing isn’t the issue. LW’s problem is what Ariel is not doing. LW needs to manage what she has an ability (and obligation): Ariel’s work output.

  36. nothing rhymes with purple*

    What does a full time wage buy the employer? Is it 8 hours of the employee’s time? Is it a particular 8 hours of the employee’s time? Is it a certain amount of the employee’s product per day? Obviously it depends on the specific job, but I wonder if there could be a more general set of thoughts on the topic.

    Anyway, whatever it buys, Ariel isn’t providing enough of it to her employer, and that’s the actual problem, isn’t it? The ‘why’ (such as a second job) might be useful for resolving it, or it might not.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Whatever hours the employer is paying for – a specific eight hours or just any eight hours – the bottom line is that it needs to be an explicit agreement between employee and employer. If your employer says “office hours are 9-5 and, aside from extenuating circumstances, you’re expected to be available during that time,” you don’t get to say “cool but I’m gonna work this other job every afternoon, and that’s my extenuating circumstance.” (And conversely, it’s kinda crappy for an employer to say “we care more about productivity than butts-in-seats” and then ding you for being 15 minutes late.)

  37. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    “She also generally fails to remember the most basic of information about where team documents live.”

    I have a coworker who will 100% fail to remember where stuff lives, despite being told where: in Chat, in emails, shared links, screenshots, being taught how to pin it, make it a favourite and even moving it to a Teams site where it is the only place it lives and almost the only document in that Team site so she can easily find it.

    Nothing sticks.

    She’s a project manager. Make six figures and gets her work done despite this inability to remember where things are. And it’s a royal PITA when she ends up with the wrong document, version or starts a new one. I’ve run out of ways to get her to remember. It just might be the way her brain works.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Then she should try writing it on a Post-It and sticking it to her monitor. Or some other solution that works for her. I had a co-worker who threw up his hands and expected all of us to provide him with notes and find things for him. I ran out of patience, not because he couldn’t remember things but because he shrugged it off. He’s one of the big reasons why I left that job.

    2. Boof*

      Hmm, well, the options is either your coworker is wrong / disorganized, or the system for doing this is disorganized and needs to be streamlined? No idea which it is. Sorry I’m just in a position where part of my job involves referencing documents sometimes, and every time I think i understand how it works, it changes, or it turns out it’s not updated, or things aren’t labeled in a way that makes them easy to find/recognize, and just ARLJKSFLKJFDSLJ I got enough crap to do without going on constant scavenger hunts and I’m at the “throw up my hands and ask the person asking me to tell me what study it is and please attach the document or link” phase right now

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I once had a colleague who requested the exact same document (a 1-page Word file, nothing complicated) from me 5 times in the space of about 2 weeks. We were both very busy at the time, so at first I gave her some leeway, but the last time I sent it to her, I said “please print this out for your reference because I’m not sending it to you again.” Miraculously, that was the final request!

    4. anonymous73*

      As a Project Manager that makes me cringe. I have a crappy memory until I do things enough, which is why I write everything down. It’s up to her to figure out a way to remember things regardless of how her brain works.

  38. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    All of those issues can be explained without a second job ever entering the picture. I’ve had my personal laptop next to me while taking care of personal stuff (selling my house, moving, getting my lease straightened out at the new place etc), I am hardly ever on camera because I am never camera-ready (but then, the team culture at my workplace is that no one is ever on camera, and it is really not even needed, as someone is sharing their screen at all times – also a tech workplace), a family member who also works in tech and lives alone, has developed a habit of talking to themselves 24/7 (that I now appear to be picking up – I’m having problems with attention and focus, and talking myself through my work helps me concentrate), most people I know hardly ever update their LinkedIn. Performance is definitely a big issue and I would focus on that.

    1. crookedglasses*

      I wouldn’t find looking off to the side to be inherently concerning. I feel like it’s been a running joke that since COVID, anybody who meets together regularly can all tell exactly where each other’s second monitors are because we’re constantly looking off to the side to reference documents or other information for whatever we’re meeting about.

      That doesn’t explain the rest of it, but by itself that would be an odd thing to latch on to as evidence of disengagement.

      1. crookedglasses*

        Nesting fail, apologies!

        I also just saw she’s looking at a second laptop specifically, not just off to the side.

  39. Boof*

    I just want to note that LW said Ariel denies the behavior when asked about it, so I think she’s already been directly asked? Can skip directly to a short PIP and termination if problems aren’t immediately resolved. (sorry doing a bad job and just denying it rather than fixing it seems grounds for termination to me)

  40. animaniactoo*

    My theory: Ariel is subcontracting her job, and the pauses and all the rest of it are her live relay of info.

  41. Ori*

    “frequently looking at a second laptop (the company did not provide her with this equipment) while on video calls, dropping on and off camera constantly, and appearing to be speaking while on mute despite being alone”

    None of these are necessarily red flags; she could prefer working with a second monitor; she could have a terrible webcam or awful internet access; she could just be talking to herself in a completely innocuous manner. Poor performance is an issue in and of itself. Focus on that.

  42. I'm just here for the cats*

    So I’m wondering why everyone seems to think she has a second full time job. Am I alone here thinking that these can be explained other ways?
    1. “Her colleagues have observed a pattern of her frequently looking at a second laptop (the company did not provide her with this equipment) while on video calls”. Don’t most people have their own laptop for personal use? couldn’t she be playing music or something in the background.
    2. “dropping on and off camera constantly” Lots of people do this. Maybe she needs to roll her eyes or stretch. Or go to the bathroom and she’s taking you with her.
    3. “appearing to be speaking while on mute despite being alone” Are you sure she is alone? Maybe she has a pet that she talks to. Or she talks to her plants. Or maybe she’s just talking to herself. Maybe she video conferences with a friend who is also WFH and that’s whats on the other computer?
    4. “generally fails to remember the most basic of information about where team documents live. ” This happens with people in office too. Some people just don’t grasp stuff like that.

    Now I’m not saying that these aren’t problems they certainly are. I just don’t understand why the LW jumped right to She’s working another full time job!

    1. SwampWitch*

      Exactly. I was curious if there are enough examples of poor performance to actually put her on a PIP or if they’re just reaching. The only thing I saw about poor performance was that she didn’t know where some files lived. That happens all the time if it’s a shared system with files coming in and out. I’m also curious as to why the LinkedIn thing matters. I know I’d be hot under the collar if one of the reasons I was put on a PIP was that I didn’t list the company as my workplace on social media.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, things that immediately come to mind she could be doing on the other laptop (not saying these are all necessarily great to be doing while working, especially if it takes your attention from the work, but they’re all not a second job)
      Personal email, IM, whatever
      Social media
      Futzing with a playlist
      Online gaming
      Running a Fantasy (Name-a-Sport) League
      Looking at kids on a baby monitor
      Looking at this website
      Looking at some other online forum
      Watching Netflix or some other streaming
      Bidding on stuff on eBay

    3. flatline*

      I completely agree with everything you have said.

      I also find it extremely concerning that LW’s friend is wanting to throw Ariel onto a PIP. Without even talking to her about anything first.

      And what is the PIP even based on? That she turns her camera off sometimes in meetings, likely when she is not speaking to the other participants, which is something a majority of people do? That she sometimes forgets where some of the files live on the cloud, which is likely a labyrinth if she really does work for a behemoth of a company? That she might talk to herself sometimes? That she hasn’t updated her LinkedIn profile to reflect her new job?

      Is she getting her job done? Is she doing it well? These are the only two things that count. The rest of it is 100% irrelevant.

  43. learnedthehardway*

    The manager should focus on the work performance and leave off speculating about whether Ariel has another job. She might. She also might be managing her kids’ online school work, or conversing with friends, or job hunting, dealing with her elderly parents’ medical needs, or planning her wedding. The important thing is that her mind doesn’t seem to be on her work, and her performance and work output isn’t at the level it needs to be to be successful in her role.

    Her manager should set expectations – full attention during meetings and not talking to others, work turned in on time at good quality and volume of output, that she takes notes on assignments and remembers the details. Deal with what is objective and measurable / observable.

  44. Foofoo*

    We had a new hire that was working a second job on the sly. He’d take one to two days off a week to either work from home due to “family illnesses” or would totally disappear on the pretext of taking his wife to the hospital (or some other really serious sounding reason).

    Our manager discovered it by accident when he saw the guy on the subway when he’d called in to say he was taking his wife to the hospital. The manager wasn’t seen and followed him off the subway into a another building and found out from the security there that the guy was an employee (yes, it’s sketchy as all heck to be following someone, but to be fair, it wasn’t a planned following and more “why did I run into this guy on the subway when he said he was driving his wife to the hospital and now this story doesn’t make sense?”) Dude with the second job got fired immediately (manager got fired not long after, but that’s another wtf story).

    In short, outside of solid evidence such as following them (not recommended), searching online to see if they’re listed in an employee directory, or listing on LinkedIn, you can’t really tell without looking like you’re snooping too much, so yes, dealing with the poor work quality is the best solution.

  45. Cadmium*

    It sounds plausible that she could be working two jobs, but there are lots of other things that could be going on. Is it possible that she has ADHD and might need accommodations to be successful? Getting distracted during calls, talking to herself (rather than someone else on another screen), forgetting where to find files on the network, etc. all sound like ADHD symptoms to me. I think Alison is spot on that you need to approach her with the facts of the problem at hand (that she’s not performing to the job requirements) and not speculate as to the cause.

  46. anonymous73*

    Unless it’s a conflict of interest or a legitimate reason for the distraction, it really doesn’t matter WHY she’s not doing her job. Your friend needs to address her performance working for them and that’s it.

    I had a co-worker using his access to information at the company to create his own similar business. Outside of being a slacker at the job we shared, THAT was a major conflict of interest.

  47. SwampWitch*

    Yeahh…..I’m polyworking right now too and tbh, not sorry. All my work is quality and getting done, and I’m meeting deadlines and staying engaged. Granted, I do break my work down and don’t crossover meetings. I feel like the issue isn’t “is she working two jobs” the issue is her performance. Also, maybe she’s helping her kid with school re the second laptop. Maybe she has other reasons to turn off her camera. I turn my camera off because I have chronic pain and I sometimes need to wiggle and stretch A LOT which can be distracting, sometimes the pain causes tics or muscle spasms that I react to, which is also distracting.

    Also, I’m curious about the work relationship/title not being “LinkedIn Official”. Is this normal and I’m just behind the times? I don’t use LinkedIn and I do not friend or follow any of my colleagues, managers, companies, or clients on social media of any kind. It makes it sound like a romantic relationship. “What are we, work bae? You didn’t confirm our relationship on LinkedIn.”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think the observation was she is active on LinkedIn but doesn’t list her job, which is a little odd. If you don’t use it a ton that’s different.

  48. Fence Sitter*

    Funny story – we found out one of the paralegals in our firm was working elsewhere as a secretary (in addition to working for our firm) when the attorney she worked for at the second firm emailed one of our attorneys about scheduling and asked her to contact said paralegal/secretary. Our attorney IM’d me asking if the paralegal had quit. She indeed had not quit. I notified her direct attorney about the situation. Then HR contacted her. She fessed up that she was planning to work both jobs at the same time. She was asked not to return.

  49. bookcase*

    The whole 2 full time jobs thing and then the pandemic just shows how screwed up our work and equality situation is.

    Some people are earning professional salaries in jobs that are so minimally demanding they are literally able to take on a second full time job. During the pandemic these people worked from home.

    Meanwhile, people in Amazon warehouses worked through the pandemic and are pushed to their absolute limit for minimal pay.

    I know some people in professional roles work really hard. I know there are some ‘white collar’ sweatshops like big law and big 4 etc. But the reality is the pandemic and WFH has exposed that a lot of these jobs are nonsense and people are barely working and no wonder those who do frontline or nursing or teaching are fed up. On top of it all sometimes these barely working professionals complain the loudest about their ‘problems’ at work like someone not putting the dishes away in the office kitchen.

    I am sure this will be shot down but the pandemic has really exposed a certain class of mid level in typical random job professionals who are quite disposable and quite entitled. If you can do two full time office jobs at once while everyone else toils for minimal, the system is broke.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh I won’t be shooting this down. I agree with you. In most large corporations, if 75% of their employees disappeared one day, no one would notice. Heck, some of these corporations could disappear one day and no one would notice. I have no idea what the solution is. Most of us professionals have good skillsets and bring a lot to the table, and could be contributing to society in far more productive ways than we are in our current roles. But we’ve got to work where we’ve got to work, not in the least because we need access to healthcare for us and our dependents. I have no idea how to untangle this mess, especially when so many people are invested in it remaining tangled for the rest of our lifetimes.

      But also maybe let’s someday retire the idea that the longer and harder people work, the better and more moral they are. If you aren’t working yourself into an early heart attack, are you even a worker? Can we not go there please. There is more to life than working ourselves to literal death and judging those who won’t.

      1. bookcase*

        I am not promoting workism.

        I am just pointing out it appears to be some kind of feudal system where our professional overlords have arranged a system where they don’t really work full time but still draw full time salaries. Even to the point they can take on another full time job apparently.

        There are some cruisy min wage jobs but generally speaking you work your full hours in many of these roles. Same goes for teaching and nursing. They tend to get the full 40 hours out of you. Yet our professional lords from what I can judge are working at maybe 50% capacity.

        There’s even someone in this comment thread defending the use of another laptop by listing all the personal admit they do during the workday. Do people realise how this comes across to those who are working really hard like nurses or retail workers? I’d love to go to work then put in a solid 2 hours working out my real estate issues.

        I know professionals get paid for their skills but it does seem like so many are barely working while the rest of us work very hard for much less pay and in a much less comfortable environment. It’s questionable how many of these professional jobs appear to require basically a 4 hour day.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          What do you mean “there is even someone” when you know damn well it was me *eyeroll* The catch is that these people are not on the clock. If there’s work to be done that has a deadline, you stay late and work through your breaks and get it done. I did work two all-nighters in my career. I worked 36 hours straight in two days, when on paper it was 16. Then came in the next day for another 8. I had a job interview with a big tech firm this year and blew it, because in the week leading up to the interview, we had a deadline at work and put in 12-hour days M-F plus the weekend. But yes I get to go to a Dr appointment when their work hours are the same as mine. The workload varies. This does not change the fact that most of what we and our employers do is at the end of the day pointless. The solution is not to make sure there are butts in seats and eyes glued to the screens 40 hours a week. There are already skills being wasted on pointless busywork, that could’ve instead been used to automate those manual jobs you are talking about, run career centers to help retrain, whatever the heck else, the sky’s the limit. More pointless busywork isn’t going to help us get anywhere as a society. I also assume you are writing this on your day off.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Also, Jesus, nobody talked about a solid two hours. More like “message the landlord before he’s gone home for the day so you aren’t playing the telephone game with him the rest of the week”.

          1. bookcase*

            You wrote about keeping a personal laptop open to do a list of personal tasks. For people who work their full hours, not on busy work, but actual work, the lives of some (some) professional workers sounds like a con.

            The solution is to cut in half many of these professional roles to what they really take to do the job and use the savings to up the wages of people who are working harder.

            The pandemic has really exposed how many professionals don’t really have full time jobs yet clear a full time salary.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Sooo, then people in these professional roles will in fact be able to work two jobs 20 hrs/week each? works for me.

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              You’re on AAM in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, so are you speaking for yourself or being hypothetical? Because it’s a bad hypothetical. It’s not something the pandemic “exposed”, the pandemic changed the nature of a lot of jobs. Some jobs are also naturally inconsistent – maybe it’s 60 hours one week and 35 another. Not everyone works at the same pace. Some people can do more with the same amount of time and end up with more down time. Some people, especially those at home with kids during a pandemic, might be producing less. Humans aren’t something you can program for maximum labor output. This whole comment thread reeks of some heavy “blame others for the unfair demands capitalism has put on me”.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                All of this, plus, in my line of work at least, sometimes, you have to think. When we were in the office, I’d sometimes go outside and walk around the campus when I was stuck coming up with a solution or a design. I would bet that a lot of the legacy spaghetti code I’ve seen in my life was a result of people honestly believing they had to keep their head down and be banging on the keyboard every working minute, and that stopping to think if they were doing everything right would be slacking and not allowed.

              2. bookcase*

                You’re kidding right?

                You know this is a worldwide website? I’m not in the US. And furthermore I work shift work and work nights and weekends.

            3. pancakes*

              The idea that the main thing keeping working class people from being paid fairly is white collar people being paid too much to futz around is a massive and ahistorical oversimplification. It’s also a massive overstatement to suggest that this letter and a handful of comments prove that working two white collar jobs is common. Likewise spending hours a day on personal, non-work-related stuff.

        3. Colette*

          There are different types of work. Creative work (figuring out how to build something, for example) is not something you can do for 40 hours a week and only 40 hours a week. You need time to do other things so that your brain has a chance to figure it out. And sometimes that means you work 60 hours, or 20, or you spend a bunch of time in meetings (which are exhausting).

          Nursing and retail workers do a different type of work. That doesn’t mean that someone with an office job isn’t working hard.

          1. Lucious*

            True,but let us be candid; We all know a white collar staff member with a manager/VP/ etc title who supervises no one and has no visible function in the organization. Seemingly every week AAM has a fresh take on the “tyrannical & unaccountable white collar manager” dynamic. The same companies docking their hourly staff’s pay for taking bathroom breaks have no problem retaining overpaid & downright toxic leaders.

            Something stinks in Midtown, and they’re not wrong to call that out.

            1. TechWorker*

              Right but the fact that a) some employees are bad are that jobs and b) some other employees try to fit in two jobs – no idea how often this is successful vs totally a failure does not imply all professional jobs are bullshit and could be done in 20 hours.

              1. bookcase*

                I didn’t say all of them. Some white collar workers work very hard, like lawyers or big 4 consultants. White collar sweat shops in finance.

                But there seems to be a distinct strands of professionals who barely work and draw good money. The rest of us have questions.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Barely work, or aren’t good at appearing to be hard working? (I.e. “stopping to think” that I referred to in a comment above) If their work gets done, then they work the right amount and not barely.

                  Something does stink in Midtown, which was why I agreed with you initially. But we disagree on what exactly does stink. My take on it is that the jobs that contribute to making the world a better place, are typically underpaid, and a lot of the high-status/high-income jobs are in fact useless or even damaging. I could not care less if the people in “white collar sweat shops in finance” that caused the 2008 market crash worked 24/7. We would’ve all been better off if they’d put in less hours.

                2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Yep, Bullshit Jobs is one of my favorite books! I was heartbroken when I recently heard of his passing.

            2. Colette*

              I also know of fast food workers who showed up drunk, or who called in every time they had something better to do. Let’s not judge everyone by the actions of a few.

  50. Allywood*

    Why is the first thought she has a second job? There could be a myriad of reasons for this behavior. The focus should be on her productivity. I have 2 monitors in the office, but at home I have my macbook. So I would use my other laptop to do work as well. Therefore yes I would look away at a second computer. She could be helping her kids with online learning, dealing with elderly parents, or even talking to herself. Like others have said address the performance issues which should’ve been done. I don’t like the immediate put someone on a pip if they haven’t been told they have areas of improvement

  51. Used to work in education got tired of being abused*

    I had a fresh hire who was underperforming. Turns out she was taking fanfiction commissions and writing them on company time. Yeah.

    1. bookcase*

      Again, this is why to people who work in demanding jobs (professional and menial) some office roles seem like a con.

      ‘Turns out’ what does that mean ‘turns out’? Surely in any real job that required someone to be working most of the time you’d notice within a day if someone spent time writing fanfict, which is time consuming. That would have to be what at least 4 hours out of the week? If someone can take 4 hours out of the week to not work and it is isn’t instantly picked up on these jobs are a con.

      In many jobs you’d notice right away if someone wasn’t working. There’s an entire class of ‘office’ work that is basically made up jobs or 50% jobs. And they get a full time reasonable enough salary meanwhile other jobs work extremely hard for very little. No wonder so many young people don’t believe in capitalism.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It depends on the type of work and how closely they are monitored. I might have a project that takes months to finish. As long as I’m reporting progress (even if I’m lying), no one would know I wasn’t working until it wasn’t finished when expected.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        If someone can take 4 hours out of the week to not work and it is isn’t instantly picked up on these jobs are a con.

        Out of a 40 hr week, lunch breaks and bathroom breaks should add up to at least 4 hours. If they don’t, the way to correct this is not to ban eating and peeing for everyone else, as you seem to be calling for. It’s to make sure that people get normal breaks at their jobs, everywhere.

      3. quill*

        Fresh hires might have a lot of training that they’re not expected to get through swiftly, so I see how far more than a few hours could be slipping through the cracks.

        Also many jobs have some built in expectations for having extra time to go back and fix, say, the typos in the TPS report and oh, our client changed their specifications… so until it becomes a problem that nothing is on time, a few things not being on time might not raise any red flags.

      4. Ori*

        My last job involved having to track every second of every day, fixed coffee breaks, a fixed lunch break and until I kicked up a fuss, being watched on webcam all day. Is that what you’d prefer? None of those things improved my productivity, they just made me feel distrusted and anxious. Maybe in big orgs there are people drawing a salary for nothing; it’s far more common IME for people to work extremely hard for low pay and few perks.

      5. Anon for this one*

        I tend to disagree. My job could certainly be described as a “made up job” or even a “50% job” based on what you’ve said here, but that disregards that it’s also just as often a 150% job or that the work I do has benefits for thousands of front-line employees. Could I disappear for half a day without being noticed? Absolutely. But it doesn’t change the fact that I have a pretty direct impact on the ability of several thousand people to be able to have the information they need to do their jobs well and be happy at work. But if I fell off the face of the earth for a few weeks, they probably wouldn’t notice (and even when they did, would just think “management” wasn’t doing a good job).

      6. Unaccountably*

        You know that the solution to this is for your work environment to become better, not for everyone else’s to become worse, right? Speaking as someone who thinks capitalism sucks, I’d argue it’s not those office jobs that are a con, it’s yours, and you’re the mark.

  52. YL*

    Maybe she doesn’t have a second job and it addicted to an online game. Hence, the second laptop. When the pandemic first started, this happened to one of my co-workers. She was bored being at home and couldn’t concentrate on work. She admitted to playing an video game for a full hour one day even though she had work to do.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      An hour wouldn’t really concern me or rise to the level of addiction. That’s just slacking off.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Ironically, I was concerned when I did that, for a Match 3 game. One of mine is more addictive, so I have to be careful when and if I chose to play it. (I don’t play games at work, and plan to leave my tablet at home for that reason)

        1. allathian*

          I play match 3 games on my personal phone during our monthly town hall meetings, where I’m not expected to contribute, only to listen. Cameras are off during those, and if I don’t play, I lose focus and start thinking about other things. The meetings are useful and informational, but they don’t require my full focus.

          I don’t do this during our weekly team meetings when we’re usually on camera and everybody is expected to contribute, or 1:1s whether we have cameras on or off.

  53. DinoGirl*

    Does she have a kid on virtual school? I get it, there’s issues, but I think just having a conversation would go a long way before they speculate as to what specifically is going on.

  54. Canadian Librarian #72*

    It doesn’t really matter whether or not she has a second job. If she were able to do good work at both, you should have no problem with it – the quality of her work is the issue. Her performance is clearly not great, though, so you have plenty of grounds to talk to her about that. To echo others, stick to the actual problems: her lack of sustained attention in meetings, her visibly talking to other people while in meetings, and her failure to remember basic things like where certain documents live. (Her having a second laptop is not indicative of having a second job – I use multiple screens myself, but this doesn’t mean I’m trying to work two jobs simultaneously.)

  55. So sleepy*

    I’m wondering if it’s possible the remote worker is dealing with child care while working – I know I looked away constantly and frequently talked / was generally distracted when my kids were at home all day every day (and so exhausted that I struggled to retain information). If the co-worker has a dual screen setup with the webcam on a monitor, it could theoretically look like she was working on another laptop (or alternatively, if she needed to assist her kids from a second laptop – I was constantly pulling stuff up for mine when they were home. I don’t think this actually changes what the LW needs to do to manage the situation, but just a reminder that it might not be nefarious.

    1. flatline*

      This is an extremely sensible and accurate comment. I had a manager years ago who thought that two-monitor setups meant that you were working on two separate computers. This was only one of the numerous reasons why he was an awful boss.

  56. Not My Money*

    This just happened to me and honestly, if the person had been doing my job well then I wouldn’t have cared but he was failing miserably at both jobs and got fired from both jobs.

  57. TechWorker*

    I have no idea if this person is working two jobs or not, & have no disagreements with Alison’s advice.

    I am kinda astonished by how many people seem to think working two full time jobs in the same working hours is totally ethically fine. In the majority of cases that presumably involves lying to your employer.

    IMO this is totally different to work distractions for other reasons. If someone’s output is low because they are sick, or distractable due to personal stuff going on, or whatever then at least they are trying their best. If someone’s output is low because they’re literally doing another job then I have zero sympathy whatsoever and would consider that a serious breach of trust. I rely on my team giving me accurate reports of their workload and what they are capable of taking on and clearly it is not possible to both report that accurately and be working another job at the same time.

    1. KateM*

      And if someone’s output is low because they spend their work time surfing the net or playing computer games?

  58. Tali*

    I am curious how the ethics of working 2 full time jobs goes with regards to company-provided benefits, especially when proper benefits are provided (or in countries with strong worker benefits). Are you enrolled in two insurance systems? Which insurance covers your medical care? My understanding is that most jobs designed to allow multiple jobs (retail, food service and so on) don’t have great benefits or are considered part-time.

    Where I live, usually the company files your residency taxes and social insurance and everything. I know someone who started a second job while working a first that had a strict rule about not having second jobs. The first found out when the payment for the second came out on their income taxes and the worker was fired.

  59. flatline*

    I mean no disrespect to the OP, but none of this necessarily means that Ariel is working two jobs.

    Had your friend tried to talk to Ariel about the performance issues? A PIP should never be a first step, but rather, a last resort.

    YMMV, but in my own experience, everything mentioned in the letter is much more likely to mean that she is dealing with burnout, a health or family issue, or intermittent carers’ responsibilities, or that she has a friend, family member or partner living with her (even if only sometimes), none of which she is obligated to share with her employer, especially if they have a history of discriminating against employees who are not a perfect work robot. (Which, based on this letter, certainly sounds like it could be the case.)

    The fact that Ariel is sometimes muting her microphone or turning her camera off during a Zoom meeting means nothing. Ariel could have background noise (like intermittent construction noise from a neighbour that she has no control over) that she doesn’t want to assault everyone else’s ears. Ariel could have a family member, friend or housemate walking behind her for a moment and she wants to protect their privacy. If it looks like she is talking while on mute, she could be talking to herself. She could also be talking to someone else who is in her home. None of this is any of the employer’s business.

    Her not updating her LinkedIn profile, despite being “active” on the platform also means absolutely squat. There are people who don’t update their LinkedIn profile with a new job until they pass probation for that role. There are people who don’t update their LinkedIn profile with a new job until they know they like it. There are people who don’t update their LinkedIn profile with a new job because they know that there is a person, or people, who stalk their LinkedIn, and they don’t want these parties to know where they are currently working. There are also people who don’t update their LinkedIn profile because they forget: even if they are on the platform regularly, they may only be looking at the newsfeed.

    As for the second laptop, that also doesn’t mean that Ariel has a second job. Depending on the job she definitely has, she may be using the second laptop to do something related to that job (for example, web/app developers and software engineers will often view the content they’re working on on a second device, especially if that second device has a different OS or browser, for quality assurance purposes).

    She might also be doing the quick checks of personal banking, email etc that many employees do (especially if something important has quickly popped up), but is reluctant to do this on the work laptop.

    Can I also just say that reputable studies show that only a tiny, tiny minority of people work two full-time jobs at once. The likelihood of you knowing one of the few people who do work full-time jobs at once is also tiny. The paranoia about this issue is entirely a result of sensationalist media coverage.

  60. gwen*

    So is Ariel’s only actual performance issue that she forgets where some reference documents are kept on the work server?

    Is that it? Has she actually received proper training as to how to access and use the server, and where everything is kept on the server?

    Is she doing her job? Is she meeting any deadlines she has? Does she produce good work?

    None of anything mentioned in this letter is PIP-worthy. At best, it is worth a conversation between Ariel and her manager, and her being given either training on, or a quick reference cheat sheet about, the server.

    Everything else in this letter is very easily explained without coming up with a conspiracy theory about an alleged second job, and doesn’t actually matter at all. Especially if she is actually doing the work she is meant to be doing.

  61. NonDoubleDipper*

    I was accused of something similar! I joined a team remotely late last year, just like OP. The person who was supposed to be my work partner froze me out of our projects, wouldn’t pass information along to me, and altered my contributions without my knowledge. He’d complain to the rest of the team that I wasn’t engaged in my job, and they naturally believed him. The end product really did suck and I no-showed to meetings I didn’t even know about, and unbeknownst to me he was leading people to think I had something else cookin’ on the side.

    He got too confident in his little game, showed his hand to the wrong people, and the whole thing imploded on him. Turns out, he was trying to preemptively save his own ass because the person I took over from always covered HIS. He had no protection anymore so he created his own scapegoat from day one.

    I complained to HR, it unearthed a whole plethora of harassment and bullying against women in the company (dude was a piece of work), and tl;dr he got fired for it.

    So my point is: you never know what could be going on behind the scenes of a terrible onboarding.

  62. Submarine*

    Of all the conclusions to jump to based on the “evidence” provided, “she’s got a second job!” is not the one I’d be putting my money on.

    And is your friend serious about a PIP? Because Ariel sometimes forgets where files are on the server?

Comments are closed.