I’m working 2 full-time remote jobs — is this unethical?

A reader writes:

The WSJ and other media outlets have been reporting on white-collar workers who work from home, working two full-time jobs at once. The thinking is, since you don’t have to be physically present in an office and can theoretically manage your own schedule, why not earn two incomes and fly under the radar?

I just started doing this a month ago. For background, I wasn’t happy at my old company, started job searching this summer, received two job offers relatively quickly, and accepted both. I now work remotely for two Silicon Valley-based companies (I live in a different western state). The companies are not competitors, suppliers, or customers of each other. Probably not the best idea to start two new jobs within a few weeks of each other, but that’s how the chips landed.

My former job was very similar to the new ones, and both new jobs have similar titles and job functions. At my old job I always received outstanding performance reviews despite being able to manage the position in a lot less than 40 hour/week. If it matters, the positions are director-level and bring in around $200k each.

A big part of this purported two-job strategy is to just “get by” and not be a superstar at any job. But I’m a very conscientious person, don’t accept mediocrity, and *intend* to do great work (albeit I’m only a month into this… we will see if that’s possible).

I’d love your perspective on this. Is this inherently unethical? I feel like the worst thing I’m doing is taking away a job from someone else, but there’s not exactly a shortage of jobs right now. I understand this is a likely fireable offense, but why? What’s your opinion of all this?

I wrote back: “I have so many questions. How will you handle it if both jobs need you for something time-sensitive at the same time? Are you not listed on both companies’ websites? What are you putting on your Linkedin?” The response:

So far I’ve been able to handle competing responsibilities. Regarding time-sensitive conflicts — both jobs are strategic, and in general I don’t have tactical, concrete work products with due dates, if that makes sense. I know what my goals are (corporate financial targets) and can plan activities well in advance. If there are crises going on with different companies’ customers at once, I treat it no differently than if I had time conflicts at one job — I prioritize and do what I can. This means working whatever hours are needed to take care of business, but so far am averaging ~50 hours/week.

My leadership is flexible and supportive, and stays off my back as long as I’m accomplishing my goals. I don’t have any direct reports, but have awesome teammates who dotted-line report to me and who I can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities. I’m able to manage my own calendar and request new meeting times if there are conflicts. The hardest part is travel (both job postings stated about 25% travel each) but I communicate availability well in advance, and of course many people are open to Zoom meetings instead of face-to-face anymore.

Not saying this will always be the case, but I’m really just taking things as they come and hoping it continues to work out.

I’m not listed on either company’s website (only C-levels are listed at both), and I deleted my LinkedIn account (after finding both positions through that site!).

Well, I’m fascinated!

Truthfully, I’m skeptical that you can do really great work at two separate full-time jobs, at least not without burning out … which is no doubt why the strategy is supposed to be to just “get by” and not be a superstar at either job. But since you’re striving to do great work for both, I think it’s going to be a lot harder and maybe impossible. It depends on the job though; some jobs are so intense and/or rigorous that it would be impossible to do well under this plan, and others aren’t.

The part of your letter that worries me the most is this: “If there are crises going on with different companies’ customers at once, I treat it no differently than if I had time conflicts at one job — I prioritize and do what I can.” That’s a good strategy when you’re working for one company, but when your priorities are split between two, that prioritization is going to look very different. That could be a huge ethical issue — your company assumes they’re paying you for your full attention, and if they’re not getting it in times of crisis, that’s a big deal.

But for the sake of argument — and because it makes the question more interesting! — let’s say your jobs weren’t ones where you ever needed to field crises. What are the ethical ramifications then?

The biggest one is the deception. Your company thinks they’re getting your full focus for 40 hours a week, and they’re not. You’ve represented yourself as selling something different to them than what they’re actually getting. You don’t want them to find out, which indicates you know they wouldn’t be okay with the arrangement if they were aware of it. That’s a big deal.

On the other hand … there’s a societal shift going on right now where people are reconsidering what they owe to employers, and factoring in the reality that employers frequently haven’t upheld their own obligations to employees, and how the balance of power in employment can impact the obligations on each side. Two years ago, I never would have condoned what you’re doing. Hell, six months ago I wouldn’t have. But now … I still don’t condone it because of the deception, but I also can’t condemn it as strongly as I would have in the past.

The thing is, deception aside, if you’re meeting all your goals and getting good performance assessments and you’re not unavailable when you’re needed and you’re not violating any conflict of interest policy, is there any specific harm you’re causing? Certainly if I found out someone working for me were doing this, I’d have some serious concerns. But if they were an excellent employee with a track record of strong work (that part is crucial) and they didn’t have a pattern of being inaccessible, I’d also have to question my assumptions — and I might end up trying to have an honest conversation with you about how to make it work for both of us without any subterfuge.

I’m surprised to find myself there.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 1,481 comments… read them below }

  1. Marie*

    I LOVE the answer to this letter because I really do feel like there’s been a shift in the last year and a half in employees’ thinking. I know darn well that I don’t do 8 hours of work a day… heck, most days I have 2, maybe 3 hours of actual hands to keyboard work. So why not take on another job? Why is that any more unethical than doing my laundry, or gardening, or cleaning out my garage, or doing cross-stitch? If we’re all part of a capitalist society, then why not take advantage of it?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m in grad school and I’ve definitely written a paper or two on work time. But while being actually logged in at work, and accessible, and able to be pulled back in at a moment’s notice – which it doesn’t feel like could work here.

      1. quill*

        I mean, it probably helps that your school papers / laundry can be set aside immediately in the case of an emergency and are not confidential. They’re also nothing like whatever work you’re doing at your job, so you aren’t going to potentially be following company policy X for company Y’s work.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          My part time college job used to let me work on my homework during slow periods and I still think of it as one of the best environments I’ve ever worked in. But I think the important piece is (1) I set aside my schoolwork when I had actual, you know, work work to do and (2) my supervisor knew about it (that said, I was hourly, so it would have been pretty shady for me to sneakily do other work at the office. The calculation is maybe different in a salaried position?)

          1. Clisby*

            I did that when I went back to college for a computer science degree while working nights on a newspaper copy desk. There were always periods during the evening when work got hectic, and periods when we were just sitting around waiting. My doing homework was no different from the person next to me reading Vogue magazine, or the person across the desk doing a crossword. There wasn’t any question of being sneaky about it; if we hadn’t brought something to occupy ourselves, we’d just be sitting there bored. It’s not like there was anything else we could be productively doing.

            Math homework was the best, because it almost always focused on a set of problems, and doing any one problem rarely took more than 10 minutes.

          2. The Original K.*

            There were certain work study jobs that were popular with students at my alma mater for exactly this reason – swiping IDs at building entrances comes immediately to mind. It was accepted and expected that students would do whatever (usually schoolwork) when they weren’t swiping IDs. If you were at the desk for 10 hours a week, you probably actually swiped IDs for like an hour out of those 10, and as long as you were at the desk you could do whatever you wanted. People looked at it as getting paid to study.

            1. Stephanie*

              I had one of these jobs in grad school. Was a desk worker at a student center in a basement. Was never super swamped because you had to know where it was and I did my fair share of coding down there.

        2. Lacey*

          Yes, I think that’s the big difference. I freelance on the side. My boss knows and supports this. When work is slow, sometimes I do the freelance work while I wait for my employer to provide more for me to do.
          But, the minute more work comes in, I set aside the freelance stuff and I never take so much freelance work that I can’t get it done without doing part of it during the work day.

          1. The Rules are Made Up*

            Is your freelance work in the same field as your full time work? I’m considering doing this too but I’m unsure if that would be okay if the two are similar, like probably same job title, but not at all competing.

            1. Lacey*

              It’s the same field, but totally different client bases. And my boss knows that both I and my coworker are doing these side businesses.

      2. AdequateAdmin*

        I wrote a ridiculous portion of my thesis while at work. It was in the beginning of 2020 when Covid was slowing everything down and if we had no customers and we’d already finished all our down time work…I always hopped to it the second I had a new task, but otherwise I’m not good at just sitting around doing nothing.

        1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          I wrote about 1/3 of my first book on the clock when I ran out of work to do, which at that job was quite often. I was super overqualified and was able to finish all the tasks of my predecessor in about 20 hours a week. I did ask for more tasks/responsibility but they still didn’t come close to 40 hours per week.

      3. Snark*

        I think another important distinction between what you’re doing and what OP’s doing is that your academic work is not (at least I’m assuming) in the same field as your employment, or only tangentially so. There are serious ethical concerns that get raised in my mind if these two companies OP works for are even within hailing distance of the same field. You can’t un-know what you learn from one job when you pivot to the other one. That’s not a problem with two businesses that don’t overlap, but if they do? Confidential business information, customer data and information, proprietary technology or IP, strategy and planning are all things I’m pretty sure Job 1 doesn’t want to share with Job 2, let alone have one brain serving as a fat conduit between them.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Oh I misread no my education is incredibly directly related to my employment. But it doesn’t create a conflict.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Right, it makes total sense that your education would be in the field you want to work in…I don’t see how doing your thesis on the job would be *more* ethical if you worked in payroll and were studying history.

            2. Snark*

              That’s what I mean; there’s no inherent conflict there the way selling the same time to two different companies has.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but to me, that’s like saying your company can’t have two clients in X industry because your processes and knowledge will overlap. Experience that applies to other clients is almost always a good thing. (For context, I work in marketing for B2B tech and staffing companies, where it’s pretty much the same range of work no matter what employer or client I have.) Would you feel the same way about, say, a freelance writer who technically provides the same services to multiple ’employers?’

          Also, I doubt OP is spreading company IP and customer information around, especially since they want to keep their two jobs on the DL.

            1. Despachito*

              But is it really relevant in terms of confidentiality?

              I am a freelancer, and it is understood that I keep clients’ information confidential – if I don’t, I would be in trouble and it would influence my credibility and my further work – why would I risk it?

          1. Omnivalent*

            This is like one of those advice column letters where people argue that their cheating actually makes their marriage better, because they’re happier or they’re learning things from their affair partner that benefit their spouse.

            The OP isn’t a freelancer, who is understood to have other clients, and where the client can require a confidentiality agreement or decline the work if they are concerned about overlap. The OP is an employee. The employers don’t know that the OP is working for one another. Besides the dishonesty, the OP is potentially creating a lot of ethical headaches for their employers.

            1. Anne Elliot*

              100% this. I’m also pretty bothered by the increasing use of “employers have historically treated people badly so that means now employees can act badly” as a justification.

              1. Koalafied*

                Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of that logic either, because it indiscriminately punishes all employers for the crimes of some employers. And the cynic in me says it’s the companies trying to do right by their employees who are going to be harmed the most because they have demonstrated a willingness to restrain themselves from extreme exploitative behavior, while the bad actors will just find new ways to be just as exploitative and continue sucking.

                It’s very, “because Jaime and Chris wouldn’t stop talking during history lesson the entire class is losing their recess today,” except at least the rest of the class has some social leverage to punish Jaime and Chris in retribution for getting them all punished. The companies who act with integrity have no equivalent leverage to ostracize or shame the evil companies for causing this blowback.

                1. Zak*

                  All employers *are* somewhat responsible for the problem though – that’s how a tragedy of the commons happens

                2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

                  Not only that, but it will only encourage even more employers to act poorly toward their employees because “that’s just how it is now”. I feel like societal norms and graces are already on the verge of breakdown and this isn’t helping.

              2. correcting a misunderstanding*

                I don’t think that’s the justification, though. The justification is that societally, we are rethinking what is acceptable between employer and employee, and one of those things could be whether or not it’s acceptable for an employer to do work for another job in their downtime. It’s backed up by the fact that employers have historically treated employees poorly, and we are now seeing the consequences of that, but it’s not justification for being dishonest. In fact, she says that the dishonesty is the main reason she’s not condoning it.

              3. AntsOnMyTable*

                I also can’t help but thinking how they are making *really* good money. If you find that you are getting paid 200k to do 25 hours of work the ethical thing is to tell your business and see if there is any other duties they would like you to take on. If they decide no, then maybe I could see finding a second job who is also aware you are only doing 25 hrs of work for a huge salary and don’t mind.

            2. Aitch Arr*

              I’d also bet money that the OP has signed an NDA or similar agreement with at least one of his two employers.

              S/he should also check their employee handbook about conflicts of interest, moonlighting, etc.

            3. Freya*

              This. Also, if OP falls over and gets injured during work hours, which employer’s WFH workers compensation insurance gets tapped?

          2. Sharon*

            Companies have policies to address conflicts of interest – but they have to know about them. At my company, you have to disclose all outside business activities so they can confirm there are no conflicts, but we are in a highly regulated industry.

            I imagine a freelancer would either be walled off from sensitive proprietary information or have to sign an NDA.

            1. Mahkara*

              That would be my thought. Also, it’s not uncommon to *not* allow freelancers/contractors/etc. on certain projects precisely because there are concerns about what they might inadvertantly diverge to other employers.

        2. Amaranth*

          I don’t think that is markedly different than if you went from Job 1 to Job 2, unless you’re pivoting in real time off proprietary data. In this case LW says the fields aren’t really intertwined, so my main concern as an employer would be the scheduling. If an employee says they can’t get something done for three weeks I’m going to assume they are honest about their workload – for my company.

      4. Stephanie*

        Yeah, this was me when I was in a part-time grad program. I did get my boss’ ok (company was paying for it) and knew I could drop the paper if needed.

        We did have a remote intern who was taking summer classes and not managing the workload at all. They basically fired her (her manager figured she got a full time offer from another coop and didn’t care too much about this one).

    2. JSPA*

      As a customer I’ve put up with a lot of crappy crappy service (and dropped balls) “because Covid.” Employers are doing the same. But patience is not infinite.

      Additionally, some job functions went away, leaving gaps in schedules; but new processes will eventually have to be added back, to cover equivalent needs. This isn’t the “new normal” yet; it’s a waystation on the path to that new normal.

      People who are committed to half-assing their jobs (and who don’t volunteer for tasks to make their hours count) will eventually be out on their asses. Even in this job market.

        1. Corey*

          lol right? That comment would have already been antiquated pre-covid. If I ever volunteered to do more work “to make my hours count”, my supervisor demand that I take a vacation.

          Though I recognize my privilege of not working in an industry whose customers begin sentences with “As a customer…”.

          1. Myllamapeggyhill*

            Nah is about the kindest thing I can say to someone who puts COVID in scare quotes. Not sure if they know how they sound but I imagine them also saying things like “my dad’s a lawyer!” “I spend a lot of money here!” and “don’t you know who I am?!” I sure do. ;)

            1. JSPA*

              Those are quote quotes. For the popular use of “because” with a noun. Not scare quotes. I’m high risk. I take covid thoroughly seriously. I have cut businesses a lot of slack, if they’ve always been solid in the past, when things went pear-shaped during the last 18-plus months. I’m sure this lands badly with people who are getting as much done in 4 hours at home, as they did in 8 hours at the office, and with no higher an error rate, either individually nor due to process breakdowns. (Dear organized, competent people working for companies who have completely solved the shift to WFH–I’m not talking about you.)

              But there are also people who are delusional about what a great job they are doing, not realizing how much goodwill has been based on how freaking hard this has been. Errors that would have been firing errors have become formal warnings, formal warnings have become gentle reminders, and gentle reminders have fallen by the wayside, due to lack of bandwidth.

              1. Chris too*

                There’s also the fact that lots of us *weren’t* working from home and “aaah I don’t wanna DIE,” was taking up a lot of the room in our brains that would have otherwise been used to catch mistakes. I have a non-remote job that takes a lot of attention to detail, and my supervisor and I are usually excellent at not making mistakes, but last year we made more errors in the one year than we had made in the past 15 all together.

              2. MBK*

                This happened in schools, too. My kid spent half her junior and all of her senior years of high school working to certain modified COVID expectations – late work accepted with no penalty as long as it was in by the end of term, retake tests as many times as you want until you’re happy with the grade, lots of necessary slack in terms of remote attendance and attention – and frankly, it hasn’t left her super well prepared for what college expects of her.

                I don’t blame the school for this. They did a mostly great job with the transition to remote learning, especially given what I’ve heard from friends with kids in other districts, and the accommodations they made were 100% necessary for the students, teachers, and administrators to be able to get through it at all. But a certain amount of self-management and rigor went right out the window.

                1. Nichole*

                  For what it’s worth, I teach at the college level, I adopted a policy of no penalties for late work during the pandemic, and after seeing some other people in higher ed explain why they think policies like this are so important, I’ve decided that I plan on keeping that policy permanently. So… your kid may be more prepared for college than you think.

          2. Koalafied*

            I think the truth is in the middle. I don’t think failure to volunteer for tasks in one’s idle time is going to land anyone’s arse on the street in the vast majority of companies, by any stretch of the imagination. At most it may negatively affect their chances of promotion or the size of their raise, if their output is correspondingly lower than peer they’re being compared to.

            My assumption is that anyone who’s only working 3 hours a day and knitting/gardening on the clock the rest of the day, is either in an “engaged to wait” type of role where the employer is fine with the arrangement, or their managers are thinking it takes them 8 hours to do work they can really do in 3. If it’s the latter, most likely they’ll continue getting away with it until if/when they get a more competent manager who knows how long things should take and gives them new, more challenging goals.

            The only way this leads to a firing is if:
            – Manager wises up or new management comes in and sees what’s going on, AND
            – Establishes new goals or puts the employee on a PIP, AND
            – The employee either flat out refuses to increase their output or just doesn’t, AND
            – The manager feels confident that they can easily replace the employee with someone who *will* output at a higher level, AND
            – The manager has the backing/authority needed to let the employee go.

            People have been getting away with slacking off on the job since jobs were first invented. Most of them don’t get fired, they just get grumbled about by coworkers who nonetheless accept their existence as a fact of life.

          3. JSPA*

            I’m not talking about, “my shirt is the wrong color.”

            The cost to my insurance agent of fixing one person’s repeated screw-ups, over the course of 4 months, would have hired a decent temp for several months. (They dug old policy information out of their files that had the wrong insurance company, not just the wrong policy number and wrong phone number and wrong renewal date, though those were also wrong.) One of my banks put the wrong contact information and typoed the email address on one of my accounts, and was sending my financial information to a stranger. Then there was the medical testing service that repeatedly billed the same medical insurance (not mine, not my name, not in any way related to me). At some point, that’s lawsuit territory. In the case of the insurance, the problem person was also sending extremely informal, typo ridden, incomprehensible emails, and slurring on the phone. My blood donation was destroyed, instead of used, because of a screw-up.

            It’s been a really hard nearly-two-years. I have continued to work with the companies in question, where in past times, I’d have long ago changed insurance agents. And I caught the flaw at the bank early enough (and flagged to them that it might be a systemic back-door problem) that I wasn’t out money. As for the medical insurance billing…NextDoor around me is slammed with complaints about that particular site, so likely I will go elsewhere in the future. And my medium-high-risk self will not be donating blood just to see it wasted, until they get the support that they need, to pull their act together.

            The customer isn’t always right. I’d never say everyone has to fill every hour of their day. But there are a lot of processes breaking down, and a lot of people who apparently believe that they’re doing an adequate job, while in fact, they are doing no such thing. It’s not tenable.

            1. Koalafied*

              I’m right there with you in seeing serious customer service issues that I’ve been patient with but do find myself getting increasingly frustrated by.

              Where I differ is that, just based on the entirety of my professional experience, I’m far more inclined to attribute those errors to employers skimping on hiring and piling too much work on each staff member, than on staff members slacking off.

              There are slackers in every job, but everywhere I’ve had any kind of insight into the situation, the number of people with unrealistic demands placed on them far exceeds the number who are getting away with actually slacking off. It can be hard to tell from the outside which is going on – did that CSR make an error because they’re rushing through their work to free up more time for video game playing, or did they make an error because over the past 10 years their employer let 2 out of 4 members of their team quit without bothering to backfill their roles and just expecting the two remaining staff to absorb the extra work? Are they reluctant to spend extra time researching your problem because they find it boring and don’t care, or are they reluctant to spend extra time researching your problem because they currently have three other messes that were dumped in their lap this morning with a “pls fix by yesterday” instruction?

              My anger in those situations is generally directed at the company structure that is permitting this to happen moreso than the individual who I generally assume is doing the best they can – either period, or the best they can given the psychological reality of what happens to a person’s motivation and productivity when they’re in soul-crushing, hopeless situations for extended/indefinite lengths of time.

              1. JSPA*

                The insurance person was borderline flakey and careless before, too, but would pull it together as needed.

                I do think they are down a person– specifically, the person who carried more than her weight and fixed other people’s screw- ups. But with much less commuting, and no major natural disasters in the local area, they’re also fielding fewer- than- normal claims. And the other person left three years ago.

                Everything about the situation feels like happy hour is starting with breakfast, while they’re all WFH, with a side order of “nobody can tell.” It’s a small agency, in a quiet suburb of a fairly quiet small city. They may not have a process for addressing the problem, so long as nobody passes out naked in public. But ignoring the problem isn’t a winning strategy. I did explicitly ask them to get her the support she needed whatever that might be. But I also explained that I was unwilling to work with her as my primary contact, without someone on backup to make sure the information was correct.

                To be clear, this isn’t a problem caused BY people doing WFH. It’s a specific person with specific issues. And every other case also has specific circumstances. I’m sympathetic to the people as individuals (and given how hiring is, I’m sympathetic if they can’t find another person).

                The fact remains that these are mistakes going well beyond the “shrug it off” line. I’m fine with 5% of my grocery order being food I can’t eat (it goes to neighbors or the food bank). Sending my insurance money to the wrong insurer, Telling me to calm down because the renewal date isn’t for months when it has already passed, telling me there’s no way to pay directly (when there is), Getting the total amount wrong and the address wrong, and my temporary mailing address wrong when it’s in the fricking email they’re responding to?

                That’s a different level.

                1. Jean*

                  I’m so confused as to why you haven’t switched agencies. It’s almost like you’re acting superior about it, and you’ve clearly been ruminating on it. Just go to another provider if you’re so unsatisfied, jeez

              2. anon for this*

                another situation is “has the employer changed the expectations”. my job recently did this and we are getting slammed by angry customer over this. people aren’t happy about the change, and I can’t blame them. If I gambled and won the lotto I’d leak the information and retire.

          4. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

            You…are never a customer? The “as a customer” was a helpful distinction given that we’re normally talking about ourselves as employees in the context of this site.

            1. Corey*

              > You…are never a customer?

              Struggling to identify even the most mangled interpretation of anything I said that would make you think this.

          5. JSPA*

            I was being mocked for specifying that what followed was my experience as a customer, rather than as an employer or employee.

            Contractors aside, most of us experience many more workplaces as customers then we do, as employees.

            Unless I’m reading the tone wrong, you were giving a thumbs up to the mockery. You also are casting shade on people who a) have customers and whose customers refer to themselves as “customers.” Which is perplexing- -most businesses have customers, of one sort or another.

            I’m assuming you’re not a tree; you procure food, clothing, housing, possibly even insurance, right? You are a customer, then?

            And people who use what you help to produce, whether it be goods, information, code- – they’re not customers of your company? Sure, they may be “clients” or “students” or “citizens” or “the public,” if you work for an NGO, university, government, research facility. But, same concept, broadly. In this context, that being, “the people who suffer if your performance is actually crap, even if nobody says anything.”

            1. Corey*

              Literally zero people have said they are not a customer lol. This is an incredibly weird reaction to criticism of your already weird comment.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                I don’t see what’s weird about starting a sentence with “As a customer” when you want to specify that you’re talking about customer experience rather than employer/employee experience, on a work-related website.

              2. MBK*

                I read it more as “I’ve noticed a decline in the level of service and attention to detail in businesses I interact with as a customer” as opposed to “I’ve noticed this among my coworkers and other businesses I collaborate with.” It’s a reasonable distinction in a conversation like this one.

                In any case, JSPA is making a lot of valid points about the nature of employee/customer expectations, how those expectations have changed over the past 20 months, and the fact that *some* of those changes are not sustainable. Knocking them for word choice and phrasing seems to me like an exercise in willfully missing or attempting to ignore the point.

                1. Corey*

                  That is wholly different from spending multiple paragraphs explaining to exactly zero people who are confused that we are all customers. You absolutely do not need to defend it!

      1. Hannah*

        So I’m going to be honest and say I’ve been working two jobs since 2014. Job 1 is my “40 hours a week” and Job 2 is a set of tasks that I’m given each Sunday with a deadline of finishing by Friday.

        It works really well! I am a superstar in Job 1 and I jump to volunteer whenever I’m needed. I’m also very well known for my dang near instant email responses. I’m always the first one to not only propose a new idea but offer to take on all the work to build it.

        But they still can’t keep up with me. So I took on Job 2 and, if it’s a slow week, I do it in my downtime. If it’s a wild week, I may have to actually do a couple hours of that in the evening.

        Some situations just work! You have to be really good and you have to have an excellent match (like my Job 2 that never needs me immediately). But I don’t think that I’m a bad person for filling my hours myself after I’ve contributed everything I can to Job 1.

        1. OhNo*

          Is job #2 a full-time position, though? I’ve also worked multiple jobs at once, but always with the understanding that one or more of them was intended to be part-time, so there was no expectation of full availability for it. I was expected to work a certain number of hours, or complete a certain set of tasks, but there wasn’t the expectation (real or implied) that I was “on the clock” for those jobs from 9-5 every day.

          1. Hannah*

            This is true – job 2 is part time. I certainly agree with the idea that the LW will likely burn out quickly on two full time jobs!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I think you have a very different situation. You are given specific tasks to complete and you do them in less time than your boss expects. That is not OP.
          OP is director-level, and directors are given down time to strategize, research new business opportunities, and make plans to expand their companies income stream. It sounds like this person is working both jobs without increasing the amount of time on the jobs, which means both companies are being shortchanged.
          You’re fine. But I find myself thoroughly and completely disgusted with OP.

        3. Science KK*

          I wish this thing had DMs so I could pick your brain about Job #2. I could really use one but my 40 hour job gets CRAZY sometimes, and other times (like now) I’m spinning in my chair looking for things to do.

        4. MBK*

          The potential difference can be summed up in two questions:

          1) Does Job 1 know about Job 2?
          2) If not, would they be OK with it if they found out?

      2. Nanani*

        Covid is real and really did -and IS- affecting people’s productivity.

        You’re right that this isn’t the new normal, but you are way off in this bizzaro world about volunteering for tasks.
        1) Pay people
        2) Acknowledge reality please

      3. Rosacolleti*

        I agree! The long term effect of this double dipping behaviour and even widespread WFH will have a highly detrimental effect on personal career development and businesses to innovate. When business doesn’t innovate, jobs will go, or get less interesting at the very least.
        My business has never outsourced anything in our 20 years, instead employing locals. Now we cannot find new employees willing to work physically in the office (we are in a very low covid country) so if we are going to have a remote team which we know will affect the business negatively, we will do it with new staff from offshore at a third of the price. It breaks my heart.

        1. TardyTardis*

          And yet a lot of businesses have been outsourcing to cheaper countries for a couple of decades and firing anyone who wants to be paid a decent wager. Not so many broken hearts with them.

          Think Disney, who hired H1Bs for a fraction of the salary of an American citizen, and had those very citizens train their replacements. This was on 60 Minutes, so accepting that report as accurate.

          Yes, there are good companies out there who don’t want to screw their employees, but the bad ones have been getting away with so much for so long…

    3. anonymous73*

      It’s not always about the number of hours you spend working. It’s about being available when needed. You can stop in the middle of doing laundry or cleaning your garage if an issue pops up. You may not be able to do that if you’re working on an urgent issue for company #2.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This strikes me to the (pre-all-daycare-and-school-closing) discussions of watching kids while doing something else. You can usually do laundry, empty the dishwasher, or watch a football game while keeping an ear out for a suspicious sudden silence. That doesn’t work with work that demands your focus and engagement.

        1. BPT*

          This is a good point. I think most people on this site have agreed before that it’s not ok to work from home without childcare if you have a child small enough to need supervision. The rationale behind that is that childcare is also a fulltime job, and you can’t do both at once. So are we changing that view now? Is it ok to not let your work know you don’t have childcare and spend a good portion of your day on that? (After we’re passed COVID and regular childcare is back to where it was, of course.) My sense is no – you still need childcare. So why are these two jobs different?

          1. TechWriter*

            I think the thing that makes childcare different is that it’s CONSTANT. Even if your kid is playing calmly by themself for twenty minutes, you cannot predict when that twenty minutes will start or end, or if it will happen at all. And even if it’s happening, you will ALWAYS have that extra ear tuned to when the happy sounds turn to either silence (someone’s getting in trouble) or wailing.

            The extra ear was true for me, even when I was working in our home office with the door shut with my spouse providing direct child supervision.

            At least with the two jobs, you could work exclusively on one for a set period of time until a given task is complete, then context switch to the other. You’re not splitting your attention, you can give 100% of it to the task/job at hand.

            1. BPT*

              This is probably very job dependent, but there are definitely times when OP (especially since their job is more strategic rather than like data entry or something) could be on the phone with one boss and their other boss calls with a fire drill. Or two major items need to be done in the same day/timeframe. I would be surprised in many jobs if you can simply work on one project with no interruptions or impromptu meetings. With a job, it’s not that you can’t be doing anything else (like commenting on As A Manager lol), but that you have to be able to drop things right away if something time sensitive with your job comes up. Can you do that with two full-time salaried jobs? I think that OP is very lucky they haven’t encountered this yet, but I would be shocked if they never do in this situation. I mean I’m sure there are jobs where this might be possible, but I think it’s a huge risk.

            2. Cold Fish*

              But is working on a report for Company A and getting an urgent call from Company B any different than working on a report for Company A and getting interrupted because your kid finished their math worksheet?

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                You can probably tell your kid, “OK, Mummy’s really busy so go out to play for a bit and I’ll check your work when I’ve finished this”, while it’ll be harder to fob your manager off when they have an emergency.

            3. Yorick*

              Well, right. Each full time job expects you to be “constantly” (not actually constantly but you know) available to do work for them, unless you have specific hours for each that don’t overlap.

      2. Snark*

        Exactly. For the last three months, my life was ruled by coordinating a high-level meeting with 50 attendees and the required presence of five levels of leadership above me, executed entirely on Teams. I was pretty much booked solid. That meeting happened two weeks ago. Since then, it’s been deathly slow and I’ve maybe been doing 4-5 hours of actual, on task, focused work per day. Now? Sure, I could, I dunno, consult.

        But part of the reason my role exists is so if someone needs to work 40+ straight hours a week to get a meeting executed or field work done or a 100-page environmental assessment banged out, they have me and I can do that. If anything like that comes down and I’m working my side hustle, it’s gonna get ugly.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I feel like if the LW wants to fill some extra time, it might make more sense to freelance on the side rather than take a whole other job. You can actually put freelance/consulting on your resume at the same time as a FT position. Having 2 simultaneous FT positions means you can only keep one and need to leave off any accomplishments from the other. Seems like a waste

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the key is that the “on the side” thing is something that can take a backseat when the primary job really needs your full time and attention. Freelance where you set the schedule; writing a novel (including one that gets published for actual money); household chores or hobbies; watching the entire Netflix catalogue.

    4. houseplant champion*


      I work 2-4 hours a day at my 8-hour-a-day remote job. My company repeteadly tells me they’re thrilled with my work. I fill the extra time with things that make me happy – reading, playing music, making art – and household stuff like laundry and dishes.

      I have no desire to work a second job; what I like about mine is how chill it is, but I feel no guilt about not “working” 40 hours per week. I’m available during those 40hrs and my job takes priority over my other tasks… I hit my targets, my work is good, so what?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And to Alison’s point–if next week turned into a hell week and you had to be working 8-10 hours a day to get through the crisis, all of the things you’ve listed are things that can go on hold and be done less or not at all that week.

      2. Tuesday*

        When you say, “I’m available during those 40hrs and my job takes priority over my other tasks” I take that to mean you’re doing everything at work that needs to be done that day? To me, that’s what makes a difference. If there’s stuff the OP is pushing off or letting slide in order to work the other job, that seems more unethical. But if the work is getting done like it would if the other job wasn’t happening, I’m not seeing an issue.
        Also, I want your job please.

      3. TechWriter*

        I am feeling a lot better about my…. work ethic, I guess, reading this thread. I did a solid hour before lunch and felt accomplished, then felt guilty that such a paltry amount of work made me feel accomplished. Nice to hear others operate in a similar way.

      4. LittleMarshmallow*

        I find a lot of the comments about only doing 2-4 hr of work in an 8 hr day and basically “playing or chore-ing” the rest of the time with glowing reviews interesting but a touch suspicious because I’ve seen so many lazy or cowardly managers over the years that just give good reviews to all their employees regardless of actual performance. I’m in a situation like that now. My workplace has one employee who probably does an hour or two of “work” daily. She has a job but isn’t actually qualified to do it so there are 2 of us that are doing all of her tasks (and our own and consequently working 50-60 hr weeks consistently). Management is aware that this is going on and continues to give her “good reviews” because they don’t have time to make sure she’s getting her stuff done and are too scared to actually deal with a PIP and the tears that accompany it. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen similar situations so my cynical side thinks that some these “rockstars” might not be as popular with their coworkers (or even managers) as they think. But more power to them I suppose for learning to game the system.

        1. Iain C*

          Long before Covid, I was complimented for being twice as productive as the person who had my job before. (They left for their own reasons).

          It was during the months after a new WoW expansion, and I was hard in my home office..

          But I was creating code, not making widgets, so productivity can vary a lot between people. When I was on, I was ON.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            The stats showed that I was doing twice as much as my colleague in fewer working hours.
            My boss did nothing to reward me: no pay rise, no bonus, nothing.
            So I cut back on my output, only producing what was expected of me.
            A good manager would have realised my greater worth and given me a pay rise, and maybe let me work to my own schedule instead of making me come in on systematically slow days. They’d have got even more work out of me had they let me work when there was work to be done instead of making me work set hours. But they wanted butts in seats more than they wanted productivity. I don’t understand, but then I’m not a person who ever wishes to have control/power over other people, and butts in seats is purely a power play.

        2. Spero*

          I do have many days where I spend most of my day not working per se, but I’m always *available to work* and unpredictably have days where I do spend every minute of the 8 hours working hard. A big part of my role is troubleshooting/escalation of issues, so if there’s a happy day of no issues in my company I’m superfluous. My non-trouble shooting tasks are kept very minimal so that when there IS trouble I have lots of time to spend on it. It really just depends on the nature of someone’s job.

    5. M2*

      This stuff actually makes me really upset because someone is covering for you only working 2-3 hours a day. My spouse has a large team and he has to work insane hours basically because his team are pulling crap like this and HR won’t let him fire them/ put them on PIPs. They also all get paid well above market rate for their roles.

      When you are taking advantage another person is probably burning out/ having health issues because they have to do your work for you. But hey who cares about others if you only have to work 2-3 hours a day!

      1. Software Dev*

        Eh that isn’t always the case though. My job is one where we all have separate, discrete tasks, so if I don’t do a full eight hours of work on my ticket, it doesn’t impact anyone else. eventually my manager would ask me about it if it never got done, but at least with programming, the numbers of hours worked is far less correlated with how quickly a task gets done than how awake/aware I am during those hours.

        1. JSPA*

          Software is a rare case. One has to budget the time for people who plug away at a job by rote, and get it done reasonably cleanly. And for those who are determined to write it as lean as possible, and won’t turn it in until it’s pared down. And for those who don’t spot their own bugs efficiently. If you’re insightful, tidy, not obsessive, and generally good at “work smarter, not harder,” I completely understand how you have free hours most days.

          Plenty of people don’t have jobs that are both completely defined (make this outcome happen, and then you’re done) yet open to a really wide range of solutions. Coding’s special that way.

        2. Yorick*

          But if you would finish that ticket more quickly and take on a new one, someone like M2’s spouse wouldn’t have to work late to do more than their share of tickets.

          1. Anna*

            But why is M2’s spouse working late to do more than their fair share of tickets? They should just do their assigned work, as Software Dev is doing. Clearly the company doesn’t have an issue with that, since they’re not pulling Software Dev up on it. If M2’s spouse is working extra hours, then either they’re martyring themselves unnecessarily by doing extra work or not keeping up with their own work.

      2. Starbuck*

        Well, not necessarily right? If OP’s been given a workplan and goal, and accomplishing everything on it, then we can’t just assume that someone else is doing crunch.

        The real blame for if that were to happen, as always, is actually on management for not hiring for a level beyond the bare minimum of staffing needs (and so, so often less than that, as we see in letter here) and not individual workers doing what’s best for themselves.

        1. Yorick*

          If people are expected to work 8 hours and they’re only working 2-4, it’s not on management if things aren’t getting done. They didn’t hire the bare minimum of staffing needs! They’re just only getting half an employee for some of the employees they hired!

          1. iliketoknit*

            Well, it is, to the extent that management is expected to manage, part of which is ensuring that employees do the work that’s required and deciding who needs to do what. If a manager is happy with the amount of work that Employee A produces in 4 hours and doesn’t require more, it’s not on Employee A to work more. If Employee B in the same company is working 10 hours a day instead of 8, it’s on management to figure out what Employee B needs, which might be to have some of their tasks given to A, or might be to get trained on new tech that will let them do their work faster, or whatever. Not all jobs have enough work to fill up every hour, or employees all doing the same tasks. (So say that A and B work in automative repair, and A does accounting while B actually fixes cars. There might not be more than 4 hours of work for A to do in a day, while B might work the entire time – or vice versa, who knows. But A having 4 hours of work and B being swamped isn’t on A – A can’t take over some of B’s car-fixing duties. So it would be on management to hire more mechanics if B is getting swamped.) There’s no issue with Employee A getting their work done in 4 hours if no one is requiring them to do more. The issue would be if their boss tried to give them more work and they refused, but that’s not what anyone has described.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            My output was literally double that of my colleague, yet she worked longer hours. I never got any acknowledgement of my greater output, no pay rise no bonus, no perks, so I decided to just do the bare minimum instead, and spent the rest of my time working on a volunteer project instead.

        2. marvin the paranoid android*

          My issue with the OP’s situation is that they’re being paid $200k a year by each employer to do a job that’s meant to be creative and strategic–they’re given the luxury of few day-to-day responsibilities with the expectation that they’re using that free time to dream up exciting ideas. They’re also given a lot of autonomy, with the expectation that because they’re a senior-level employee, they’ll have the employer’s interests at heart.

          That’s the theory, but I’m guessing that a lot of people in the OP’s position would just spend a good part of that work day goofing off, taking long lunches or hitting the golf course rather than working a second job. I don’t actually see what the OP is doing as hugely different from that. My issue is just with the massive pile of advantages and benefit of the doubt being heaped on a few people at the top of the ladder at the expense of those at the bottom.

      3. Why did I go to library school?*

        I mean, that’s not always the case — and when it is, it’s not always something the worker can do anything about. I had a job once where I would regularly have days where I’d either have to slow my work pace down to a crawl to make it fill my day or spend half the time twiddling my thumbs. I constantly asked for more tasks, but I was never given any… because the majority of the work was being held up by my grand-boss (there were projects that hadn’t been touched in over a year because she insisted on reviewing them first, but then somehow would never get around to it). It was an utterly miserable experience.

        If I’d been able to work from home, I totally would have been doing other stuff during that time. Possibly including picking up more paid work.

        1. Marie*

          This is absolutely the case in my position. I am part of a larger team and we all manage different workstreams for a particular HR software. I am supporting a division of the company I work for with regards to their needs from the HR software. Sometimes, this means I’m really busy (like over the summer when we were rolling out some new processes). Right now, as in the past few weeks, it’s been slower, so I caught up on smaller stuff, let everyone know that I had time to help out with anything (and am reminding them every day), and I’m still in a pretty slow period. It’ll pick back up next week or the week after, but for now, time to dust the baseboards.

          I find the idea that every job “should” be 8 solid hours a day to be very antiquated, especially in light of all of the studies that have come out in the past decade or so showing that most people do 2-4 hours of actual productive work a day.

      4. Loredena Frisealach*

        That’s not always the scenario though! I’ve had plenty of times where I simply have no work to do, I’m not skipping out on anything just because I only worked a few hours today. I’m a consultant, either I have billable work or I don’t – but even when I worked in industry as a developer who also did support, there was a lot of down time. It really depends on the job!

      5. turquoisecow*

        Nah, some jobs just don’t have a lot of work. I’m part time currently and working on a project that for most of the other people working on it is a “when I can get to it” thing, so I don’t have a lot of actual work to do, since I’m waiting on a lot of other busier people to do their stuff. And their stuff is not my stuff, so their busyness is unrelated to me.

        But even when I worked full time, the job just didn’t have enough work to keep me busy 8 hours a day, most of the time. Sure there were times where important projects meant I was working through lunch and staying late, but 99% of the time I was done on time and so were my coworkers doing the same job. I was not and am not slacking while someone else works on my job, that’s not the way my job works.

      6. The Rules are Made Up*

        That’s not true for everyone’s job. If I work a solid 2 or 3 hours a day during slow periods there’s nobody that’s “covering” for me. That implies that there’s work to do that I’m just not doing, which is not the case. What people are talking about is jobs where sometimes there are not 8 hours worth of tasks to do in a day. Nobody is slacking. Nobody is covering. There just isn’t that much to do so they do other things until there’s something else for them to do. Your spouse’s problem is an entirely different, pretty unrelated, issue.

      7. LittleMarshmallow*

        I have the same sentiment about it being upsetting. I do blame management for not dealing with it also but if people worked ethically management wouldn’t have to step in either. The people on my site (largely not an able to do work from home site… for some reason they won’t let me set up my reactor in my garage), that pushed to work from home because they thought their jobs could be done remotely were mostly wrong. And after nearly a year of engineers covering admin tasks because the admins decided they could do their jobs from home (and their management not questioning it), we finally had to escalate the issue to admin management to explain all of the things their team used to do physically on-site that the engineering staff was now doing. Luckily in this situation the admin manager did work with us to get an on-site staff member and that has helped significantly, but the denial seems to be pretty strong with some of the avid wfh people. I’m sorry but you can not cover front desk/ receptionist duties from home no matter how badly you want to be able to spend the time for physical tasks on laundry instead of laminating things or receiving packages.

      8. Tami*

        There should be a baseline of what amount of time a task takes. For example as a manager with excellent experience in the task if that task takes you an hour to accomplish knowing a new hire may take 2 to accomplish this and should be at your level in for example 6 months allows proper delegation of tasks. Someone new may have 4 tasks a day to start and bu month 6 have 8 tasks. As we move toward this more common remote work it is imperative that as managers we are aware of the amount of time a task should take and give enough to keep staff busy.

        I know when I come to the office on a weekend I can accomplish about 40 percent more than on a day when everyone is in the office as I have no interruption. When people are working from home uninterrupted they likely will accomplish tasks much faster than in an office setting with multiple distractions.

    6. Hills to Die On*

      It’s also not just the Capitalist Machine OP would be taking from. He’d be taking time away from real people needing real things to do their jobs. And even if he checks the boxes on deliverables, he is still shorting his coworkers on time, awareness, context, added help, a resource for knowledge, etc. because he just isn’t putting in the same amount of time as everyone else.

      1. ...*

        Also taking away job opportunities from someone else. We see ALL THE TIME on this site people struggling for months or years to find a better paying job and a way out of their current toxic environment. It’s hard enough finding one salary. I empathize with necessity, but “why not?” is not a necessity and it kind of stings to hear people say that when I could really use at least one job that offers a living wage.

        1. Ruth*

          To me, this is an argument in favor of universal basic income. The OP here ‘earned’ these two jobs over other candidates. No matter what situation those other candidates are in, I believe they deserve to eat and pay rent and have access to reliable transportation. Any time I notice a “why them and not me?” feeling in myself or someone else, it can still almost always be traced back to a systemic failure, in my opinion.

        2. RS*

          This! The comment of feeling guilty for taking a job someone else could fill but there’s no lack of jobs right now… there absolutely are a limited number of remote director positions paying 200,000.

        3. After 33 years ...*

          This is where I would end up. I have declined opportunities to consult or do extra work on the side, passing those to younger colleagues or students who needed both income and experience, and could do the work. When I was younger, senior people did the same favours for me … paying it forward.
          I’m not in the OPs Tech field, so things are very different. The only person at my university making $200 k US annually would be our President, and I hope they6 aren’t trying to do a second job.

    7. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I’m actually doing something similar to OP, though with significant differences. I’m a full time 40 hrs a week team lead/junior manager for a research non-profit, and a part time (16ish hours a week) 1099 contractor for a telecom. I have to say, it’s mostly not that hard?

      My situation is a bit different (both my employers know what I’m doing for one), but overall I haven’t had any significant issues maintaining work quality or juggling responsibilities. I think a critical piece is that my part time job knows they are a second priority. If they have an emergency, I’ll help, even during business hours, but not at the expense of my full time job. That helps a lot with prioritizing serious problems.

      1. OhNo*

        The consent is key. If both companies know what is happening, and they’re cool with it, and everyone involved knows who has priority when and all parties have agreed to the arrangement… no problem! Go for it!

        It’s just when someone is being duplicitous about it, and deliberately so, because they know one or more of their jobs would not allow it, that it becomes an ethical problem. Even if it causes no problems for anyone, and the employee can get away with it indefinitely, they’re still deliberately lying about it in a way that many would consider a bad breach of ethics.

        1. Cassie*

          This. I used to be involved w/ a ballet studio (teaching in the evenings, running rehearsals on the weekend) while working a 8-5 office job. My boss knew about my ballet stuff, and of course the ballet people knew I had a “day” job. If I had to do something ballet related during the day (say tech rehearsal that starts earlier in the afternoon), I’d take vacation time off.

          If I routinely disappears for a couple of hours during the day to go to the ballet studio, I’m sure I’d get a talking to by my boss.

    8. Still Queer, Still Here*

      Exactly. I recently transitioned out of secondary ed into a non-teaching, higher-ed position. When the transition began, a 2nd part-time position that would be really great for me personally and professionally fell into my lap. So I work both. However: 1 is very clearly a primary gig, and the other is a secondary one. There is never any conflict because they’re in really different fields. If anything, I would say I’m learning and developing great skills in both that benefit my positions and increase my value to both employers.

      I think what makes it different though, is probably that while neither employer knows exactly how much I’m working, they are both aware that I have a 2nd job. Primary, salaried position is in an office, exempt, 40 hours a week. I’m pretty strict with my boundaries, so while I am exempt, there’s not much after-hours commitment, and when there is, the culture encourages taking comp time. Secondary, part-time job is hourly and mostly done virtually. I do about 7-8 hours of in-person work/week, on a predictable weekend day. Technically, on paper, I work 60 hours/week. But in reality, it’s closer to 50. I have lulls at my primary job predictably enough that I can use that time for the secondary job. It’s mainly solitary work, so meetings during the day rarely conflict, and if they do, they’re aware I have a full-time job, so it’s easy to reschedule. Neither job pays great; these are both jobs that lend themselves well to the millennial/Gen Z tradition of working side-gigs to make ends meet. With both jobs, I earn less than $70k/year. And I support 2 adults in a major city. We still basically live paycheck to paycheck and are not without financial stress. Pretty different from the OP making 400k/year doing this.

      I will say I don’t want to continue doing this indefinitely. One of the main reasons I did it is because my spouse has had difficulty getting full-time work, and the second job pays more than what they were making at a bad and physically exhausting part-time job. So taking it allowed them to take time off to rest and job search so that they can get a full-time position they’re better suited for. They’ve got some good interviews lined up, so we’re hopeful!

      Personally, I think I would feel really unethical if I were doing what OP is doing and would live in a constant state of anxiety about being found out. I think if you can manage it, though, more power to you! Do it! Punch capitalism in the face!

    9. Keyboard Jockey*

      I feel like a ton of this depends on what the job is. I’m a programmer, so I spend a lot of time thinking about problems *while* I’m gardening or doing the laundry, even if my butt isn’t sat at my desk cranking out code. (I could relate to the recent letter asking if billing for a dream were reasonable, ha.) If I were working two full-time jobs, I’d be shorting my employers that “down” time where my brain is consumed with the problem to be solved, even if it’s invisible to everyone else. And I’d be worse at my hands-on-keyboard tasks as a result.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        Yeah, it’s this part. I work in a tech job around the salary of OP’s and I can’t imagine working another full-time job – not that I wouldn’t technically have the hours in the day to do it, but there’s so much context-switching and thought necessary for my one job that I can’t imagine dedicating that to two.

    10. Anon for this*

      I write when things are slow at work. I think it evens out in the long run, as there are definitely days when I put in extra hours, and I’m always available to be pulled into a project at a moment’s notice. However, I don’t think I have the organizational skills to juggle two full-time jobs! Good luck to the OP—I hope this doesn’t blow up in their face.

    11. The Starsong Princess*

      I think I could have two jobs and do them both well. I’d have to work about 60 hours per week but there are times in the past when I worked that much. These days, I am simply too lazy and more concerned with the retirement benefits my company offers to risk my current job. But if I was younger and had $100,000 in student loans? Two $80,000 jobs would let me pay that off. But if could keep the balls in the air for three years, that’s the student loan paid off and a down payment on a house. For a millennial, that’s an incredible leg up and I might find that attractive enough to give it a whirl.

    12. efficient worker*

      “Your company thinks they’re getting your full focus for 40 hours a week, and they’re not.”

      This line from Alison really throws your comment into sharp relief. That’s what companies think, but is it justified? If you’re a salaried worker, you owe them your work, not your time. Your company hired you to deliver results; if you deliver those results, they got what they paid for. If they want my hours, give me an hourly schedule with the overtime commitments that entails. This has been hammered out a thousand times in the history of this column: salaried workers aren’t compensated for working *more* than 40 hours, but they are punished for working *less* than 40 hours, no matter the results they’re delivering – it’s inherently shitty and imbalanced, and it’s propped up so many other toxic things about the modern workplace.

      1. TiredEmployee*

        No, if you’re salaried the company is paying for your time. It’s even called “full TIME”. If they were paying for just your work they’d pay you as a contractor per-project.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, but they’re still expecting you as the employee to be willing to work more hours, with no OT pay, if necessary. Turnabout’s fair play, if they get the results the employer needs in less time…

          1. Sweet Christmas*

            But many knowledge worker jobs that pay at this level aren’t just about “results.” My job has some widgets I output but they’re also paying me for my expertise and thought leadership. I could spend 20 hours a week just banging things out but that doesn’t consider the mentorship and leadership that I provide on the team/in the org to earn the salary they’re paying me.

    13. kimpossible*

      An honest question – I’m assuming you are working from home. What would you do with that spare time if you were fully in the office?

    14. Super Duper Anonymous*

      I work at a remote company, and hired someone for a job working under me knowing full well he was planning to keep his other full-time job in a wildly different industry (finance vs. entertainment). No one else at my company knows; they think he gave up the world’s most stable job to roll the dice on his dream. I honestly don’t care – he has maybe four hours of “real” work at his other job every week, and his work for me is incredibly high quality. He’s one of those people who has incredible bursts of productivity followed by a lot of down time, in a way that evens out to still be more productive than most people.

      So why SHOULD I care? If I cared, we never could have hired him – the benefits at his finance job are a million times better than my company could have offered, and while we offered him the top of our salary band, it’s still $10K less than he makes at his other job. We would have lost out on the most talented candidate who applied. He delivers all his work before the deadline and is an incredibly fast learner. I think if my boss knew he’d make me give my employee an ultimatum, so I’m happy to keep the secret – but I hope this becomes less remarkable in the future.

    15. in the service industry*

      I feel like there are some comments here that are suggesting that what LW is doing is somehow sticking it to ~the capitalist system- and I just can’t help but disagree. The LW is in director level positions at two different silicon valley companies. They are ostensibly part of management and have direct reports, and I am skeptical about whether someone could actually be a responsive manager or director if they are secretly working for two companies. I am also wondering how the LW would respond if they found out one of their direct reports was working another job at the same time. I
      am guessing that they would scrutinize the person’s performance and have questions about how their employee might juggle competing priorities in the future. If LW is a director who manages other people, I would hope that they wouldn’t have a double standard.

      Anyways, I just don’t consider someone who is working at the director level at two separate Silicon Valley companies to be part of a movement of workers challenging the status quo of how employers treat their employees. I cannot say whether or not they are doing something inherently “wrong”, but I also don’t think they are an underdog sticking it to capitalism either.

      A lot of people work multiple full time jobs and do not have the luxury of doing it from home at the same time. Just this morning, my coworker who does food prep sped out the door after finishing a 7 hour shift so that she wouldn’t miss the bus to her job at another restaurant There are many reasons people are leaving the service industry in droves, and one of them is that we are tired of the conditions that force people to work multiple back to back jobs just to make rent and not starve. If anyone is sticking it to capitalism,, it’s not the director level worker who’s decided to work two remote jobs at the same time so they can make 200k.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        This. I don’t have a problem with people working two jobs – I grew up working class, and that was just a way of life. I knew lots of adults who worked two jobs. Sometimes, the two jobs were in the same field.

        But I also work at the director level at a Silicon Valley company and working two of these jobs is very, very different. I’m skeptical that they’re not connected or competing at least on some level, but even if they’re not…they’re definitely not sticking to the man, but I’m also not convinced that they are giving what director-level roles are supposed to give. I’m generally a mind-my-own-business type of person but I do get irritated when folks at those levels are clearly phoning it in and doing the bare minimum – the whole point of being at that level is that you’re kind of not supposed to.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This is sort of the part I’m getting hung up on too. They’re assuming you’re working 40 hours a week and you’re working 25? That seems way beyond the “oh none of us are really productive for a full 40 hours” hand waving that you sometimes hear.

          1. Yoyoyo*

            This was my thought exactly. I work my ass off with 13 direct reports and a lot of liability on my shoulders at a nonprofit for 75k. I was floored to find out that most people don’t actually put in a full 8 hours of work each day, and then that this person is able to pull this off?! How do I get in on this?

            1. Qwerty*

              Work in tech. I recently started a new job, over $200k base salary as an individual contributor, with unlimited PTO and the company line is “impact, not hours.” Sounds like that’s the sector where OP is too. Honestly I have to pinch myself too!

                1. Pants*

                  Hi OP! I figured tech too. I recently joined what I guess would qualify as a tech job, though my position is supporting internal and mandatory projects (yay job security!) and not the tech itself. I’m not nearly as high on the ladder as you are, but my experience here is that the company is well run, the communication within the entire company is stellar, and the department I’m in is stocked full of great people. That combination has yielded me a lot of free time as well because things just…work.

                  That said, I’m curious about your age. While I could theoretically pick up at least another half-time job with my free time, I don’t know that I’d have the energy to do so. I worked 3 jobs at once (one full time, two part time) while I was doing my last semester of college and for a year afterward, so I know I did have the energy at one point. Now, I think I’d crumble pretty quickly. If you’re comfortable saying, I’m curious. However, it’s not necessary knowledge — I’m still impressed by your ability to do both!!

              1. hayling*

                I’m in tech, I don’t get quite 200k but I am a senior manager with 2 direct reports. I’m in meetings all day long, no way I could do this.

              2. Sweet Christmas*

                I mean, I work in the same field with the same conditions, and yes the line is impact not hours, but it also doesn’t mean that you only have to put in 2-3 hours a day to do your job. That situation is pretty rare, and I’d be interested to see where the OP is after they are no longer new.

            2. Anon for this*

              I had a similar job to this (20 direct reports, TONS of liability) at a nonprofit and I was paid, max, $35K a year. Often less because I was hourly and they wouldn’t pay me for a chunk of my job duties but counted it against my 40 hours (ex: all those hours I was expected to put in at home scrambling to find coverage or help someone with a last minute emergency or doing paperwork to handle a class, those were all unpaid. They stole THOUSANDS from me in unpaid wages.)

            3. jiggle mouse*

              I don’t put in a full 8 for part of the year because the other parts of the year I am working much more than that. I can’t even out the cyclical nature of my work more than I have, and if I take on more work during quiet times I’ll have to drop it when my primary workload picks up. Luckily I have data that shows I’d be working the full 8 each day if I could balance the workload, not that my employer is worried, but it helps me be less anxious when I’m less busy.

          2. bluephone*

            That right there pushed me all the way into “Oh I do not like this person at all” with no turning back.

          3. JustAnotherComment*

            This was also what bothered me. OP is correct that there’s no shortage of jobs…. But there is a shortage of *good* jobs, and now OP is taking a high earning position that could be a real game changer for someone else. If they want extra cash and to fill their day with other things they’re better off picking up a skill they can freelance at.

            1. Anonymeece*

              This is where I fall. Most of the “no shortage of jobs” I see are part-time jobs or jobs that don’t pay well. It reminds me a lot of when I graduated college shortly after 2008, and my dad was constantly getting on me for not having a full-time job yet, because there were plenty of jobs out there according to the news!

              Sure, but none of them paid enough to actually live off of and pay off my student loans.

              On the one hand, I feel like I’m inherently being unfair. On the other… if I were applying for jobs and couldn’t find one, while OP is making $400K doing something inherently unethical… I’d be pissed.

              1. JustAnotherComment*

                Yup, and honestly the fact that it’s a senior level position makes it that much more egregious for me, especially right now when we are having conversations about lifting up marginalized employees who have historically never had the same chances to be in high earning senior positions… even if OP is from a marginalized community, they’re taking two seats at the table.
                Maybe I’m extra sensitive because I am job hunting for a senior position as a marginalized person and have come in second place more than once in the interview process… but if I found out that the person who got the job ahead of me was also working another senior job?!
                I don’t know what I’d do, but if I’m being honest I’d be tempted to release my inner petty and anonymously let their employers know.

                1. Anonymeece*

                  Oh, I didn’t even think of that, but you’re absolutely right, that is a very real concern!

                  I realize it’s not necessarily a zero sum game, but to me, it kind of feels like OP is taking two brownies and so someone else is getting none, when there was meant to be one brownie for each person. And if OP is taking that brownie from someone who has historically been denied brownies (okay, this metaphor is getting away from me here), then that’s especially egregious.

                2. Nanani*

                  OP actually is someone who is historically locked out of brownies, as a woman in tech.

                  I don’t think that changes the issue for me – hypothetical straw colleagues who MIGHT have the other job don’t change the balance.

                  But if it does for you, well, factor the whole thing in not just the money.

        1. cactus lady*

          This is such an interesting argument to me because I’ve worked at so many places where they pay you for 40 hours but expect you to work 50-60. To me, it’s that logic being turned back on the employer kind of in the same way that candidates are now ghosting potential employers. It wasn’t a problem when the company did it, but it IS a problem when the worker does it.

          1. Laney Boggs*

            Well, employees get prosecuted for wage theft but employers almost never do – maybe they get fined.

            The US has spent decades gutting “the little guy” in exchange for building up corporations.

            1. Starbuck*

              Totally. Wage theft is the most rampant, widespread, and least prosecuted form of theft in the US. I’m left with basically no sympathy for employers at this point.

              1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

                Employee is caught stealing = fired and possible criminal prosecution
                Employer is caught stealing wages = ordered to pay back the wages. No worse than if they had paid them in the first place, and that’s IF they get caught

                1. Persephone Mongoose*

                  Maybe this varies by state, but my understanding is that there are hefty penalties in addition to the full back wages. Otherwise, yes, there is no real consequence to wage theft.

          2. Salsa Verde*

            Right – the salary is “based on” 40 hours a week or whatever, but it’s understood that you will work however long it takes to get the work done. It seems like that always ends up being MORE hours, never fewer hours, because if it is fewer, the organization will find something else for you to do during the remaining hours.

            So yes, I agree with cactus lady that this is that logic being mirrored back at employers.
            If this is having a detrimental impact on other employees, that is a problem, but if it’s not, I don’t really think it’s a huge problem.

          3. LizM*

            Yeah, this is where I’m struggling a little. It seems like for salaried employees, the hours always end up favoring the employer. They get to demand you work 40 hours a week, but if they give you more work, you may need to work 50-60, and their costs don’t go up.

            If the understanding is really “You need to do XYZ tasks, and meet ABC expectations, and we’ll give you $200k a year,” I’m not 100% sure it’s unethical.

            If the understanding is “You need to work 40 hours a week and generally be available from 9-5, and we’ll give you $200k a year,” then this does feel dishonest.

            I really think it comes down to what the employer is paying for. Are they paying for your time, your output, or something in between?

        2. Blisskrieg*

          To me, maybe their current responsibilities are “doable” but for $200K, I’d expect my employee to be on the lookout for needs in terms of calibrating strategy and responsibilities, and projects the position should be taking on. If you have a side gig, that might be the part that is falling by the wayside. Additionally, OP isn’t overworked, but very possibly other people in the company are. I would frankly be livid if I were working 50-60 hours per week, and someone else was able to wrap up their obligations with enough bandwidth to take on a second full time job. Not saying that part is OPs responsibility, but if I were the company I would not like the optics.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yep, I’d fire OP if I realized I was paying $200K for this. I think for that kind of money I could get someone whose priority is the job I’m hiring for.

          2. Just a Thought*

            OP is Director level – Director level at our company are expected to be developing the company so it can thrive. That means creative down time goes to thinking, scheming, etc. A 2nd full time job would knock that very valuable of the role out.

            We would be opposed at this level – and might very well entertain it at other levels where “getting the job done” is more quantifiable. But I don’t see that as the only part of a Director level role.

            1. Blisskrieg*

              ^ Exactly. That is exactly what I was trying to convey. My perception as an employer would be that I am missing out of development opportunities that come into play at that level.

            2. Cassie*

              At my university (and probably at most universities), professors have to disclose outside activities. Tenured faculty aren’t hourly employees, but there’s expectation that their first obligation is to the university and any other activities does not create a conflict of commitment and especially not a conflict of interest.

              There’s a time limit (1 day a week?) that the faculty can spend on outside activities (some types of activities require pre-approval, others just get reported after the fact) – but it is all reported on an annual basis. That’s the key point, I think, because everything is supposed to be disclosed. (In reality, there are some cases where profs don’t report they have a W-2 job elsewhere – sometimes they get caught, sometimes they don’t).

            3. Sweet Christmas*

              Exactly this. I’m director-level at my tech company, too, and it’s about more than just delivering whatever is asked specifically of you. It’s a leadership role – you’re supposed to be going above what the baseline requirements are. I’m not saying you should be working 70 hour weeks, but putting in 2-3 hours and calling it a day is not really director-level work, and like I said up thread, I’d be curious to see what tune the OP is singing once they are more settled into their job and the expectations inevitably go up.

          3. Tess*

            Right. I’d be surprised if deep work, strategic thinking, and problem-solving were happening, in both jobs and in addition to the more routine/less demanding work, at a level that the employer expects for that position and salary. Suppose one accepts the premise that employers have shortchanged employees for years and therefore turnabout is fair play. (I don’t–I am sympathetic to this perspective but it is not that simple.) Still, someone doing this may also be shortchanging coworkers who have to deal with challenges or problems that might have been avoided or minimized if someone at director-level was giving full focus to helping the company run as well as possible. Also, if discovered, it can have a long-term negative impact on others. What if OP’s managers found out they were doing this and then decided, not unreasonably, that they now needed to monitor everyone’s work more closely and add more otherwise-pointless layers of accountability? I would be livid if a coworker’s actions resulted in less freedom/independence/trust for all.

            1. JustAnotherComment*

              Yes! I’m all for people taking back power as employees, but if your actions are more likely to negatively affect your colleagues than they are to make any sort of impact then you need to re-evaluate your methods.

        3. fueled by coffee*

          Yeah, my immediate concern is not so much about the ethics of this as it is about what happens when the employer hires someone else in a similar role who is able to complete nearly double the work in the same timeframe.

          OP might be performing well given the company’s current expectations for their output, but what happens when they realize their other, single-job-at-a-time employees are able to be so much more productive, just by virtue of having more time?

          For example, OP says both jobs require 25% travel. How much leverage does OP really have to schedule these as zoom meetings instead of traveling, and to dictate when they can and can’t travel during the work week? And if I were OP’s boss, and my other employees were generally doing their expected travel while OP continually gives me a hassle about scheduling issues, how would I feel when it comes down to making promotion or layoff decisions down the line? Or when asked to be a reference for OP’s next job search? (To be clear, I am absolutely of the opinion that employers should be aware that their employees have other obligations that might occasionally interfere with travel plans, and that Zoom is perfectly acceptable for most mid-pandemic long distance meetings. But it sounds like OP took two jobs that require 25% travel when they can’t actually meet that expectation!)

          1. Dev*

            As a software developer, I can say that devs have vastly different speeds of output.

            It’s entirely possible one dev can get done in 25 hours what takes most 40.

            So maybe OP is just really fast and good.

            1. Dev*

              Wait, I’m confused again about OP’s role. I was thinking they were something like a dev and just director LEVEL but now I’m not sure.

              1. TechWorker*

                Yeah I’m not sure either. I feel like there are director level roles in my org where you could probably get away with doing less than a full working week but absolutely no way that’s not going to affect your impact longer term. I just don’t believe you can do a good job in both places and think it’s pretty dishonest to think you can.

        4. Allison*

          Yeah, this is where I’m hung up as well. It’s one thing if you manage to give each job 40 hours per week, or even 35, but 25 is not full-time. This is not going to work out long-term.

      2. Uncle Bob*

        I’m not sure that you are correct. Salaried positions don’t come with an expectation of working set hours or exactly 40 hours (nor is there overtime). If you can get all your work done in 30 hours – that’s totally legal.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Legal, true, but often not the expectation for jobs at this level and I’m skeptical OP can cram a full time director level job into 25 hours a week long term.

          1. Awkward Interviewee*

            I agree that most director level jobs aren’t 25 hours a week. I suspect that one reason OP is pulling this off is that they’re only been doing it for a month. Every professional job I’ve had has had a slower ramping up period when I’m getting acclimated. I suspect OP is eventually going to either be underperforming in both jobs (and the employers will be able to tell) or they’re going to need to work more like 70 hours a week. Especially with travel – how is scheduling not going to bite them in the you know where eventually?

            1. JennG*

              I was thinking this too. All the strategic jobs I’ve had had periods where you had to jump in and push something through. But it might be a question of radically different fields.

            2. Iris Eyes*

              That actually might recommend the practice. By the time it ramps up to that point they will have a good idea of the actual working conditions and cooperate culture and it will be much easier to choose between the two positions.

              Also making 2 full time salaries it would absolutely make sense to outsource just about everything that wasn’t those positions. Paying someone else to do all the cooking, cleaning, errand running etc which cuts out a lot of work that you would otherwise be doing and not be getting paid for. Which is a luxury most people working 70+ hours a week don’t have.

              1. Smithy*

                This was my thinking on the best genuine way to approach this – both from an ethical standpoint and a personal one.

                I have a director role with no direct reports, and due to a variety of reasons – COVID/remote onboarding plus starting just a few months before a notoriously quiet period in my industry – my true hours for the first 4-6 months really took a while to truly ramp up. Personally though, the maintenance of the two calendars would have been very difficult for me….but if it was in a situation where I told myself I was starting both jobs right before that typical quiet period and I’d make a decision after 3 months, I could see surviving that. My personal calendar skills are not strong enough to do it much longer, but it also doesn’t seem impossible.

              2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

                And really, we had that guy a week or so ago that was annoyed by the fact that his employees were fleeing over 100 hour work weeks. Given that WFH eliminates commutes, 70 hours a week when you can afford housekeeping, gardening, and regularly eating out isn’t that unreasonable. Sure you’re working 12 + hours a day, but weekends and holidays are yours, and most of your other needs are paid for. I don’t think I’d want to do it forever, but for a few years to build a nice nest egg isn’t awful.

              3. DocVonMittens*

                I did this a few years ago for two years. I worked 70+ hour weeks doing two full time jobs and paid for a housekeeper, ordered in food, etc.

                I like my job better than chores so I outsourced house stuff to make time for work.

            3. OP*

              My worries exactly… but in my experience, on-boarding and learning has required longer hours. Once I’m in the flow, it becomes less time-consuming.

              1. The Starsong Princess*

                And really, if you start thinking one of the jobs is on to you or it gets to be too much, you can just quit one and lean into the other. The trick is not to get caught or even don’t get caught by both companies.

            4. Elenna*

              This. I don’t think what OP is doing is necessarily unethical if they really can do excellent work for both companies (and I’ve certainly had jobs where I can do good work and be praised and work significantly less than 40 hours/week), but I think OP should wait and see how the workload will be after the initial ramping-up period before doing it.

            5. Sweet Christmas*

              This was my thought as well. They’re only succeeding because it’s early days and no one is expecting much yet.

          2. Starbuck*

            It’s funny how often the expectation for salaried workers re: flexibility is ‘we can ask you to work over 40 hrs with no penalty, but don’t you dare try to work less than 40.’ And by funny, I mean bullshit of course.

            1. Sweet Christmas*

              I don’t know what kind of salaried roles you’ve had before, but that’s not been the experience in mine. Instead, the agreement is that sometimes you will indeed work fewer hours, and sometimes you’ll work more, but it’ll even out to somewhere around 40.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          That may be in true in theory, but in practice, full-time salaried jobs expect you to be *available* 40 hours a week. I’m sure there are jobs where you could say, on Thursday afternoon, “I finished everything I needed to do this week so I’ll see you Monday.” But I think this would not be okay with the majority of employers.

          1. Tyche*

            Exactly. I’m salaried and the expectation is I will work 40 hours a week. If I can’t, I need to make it up or take PTO. If my job needs more than 40 hours from me, I’m expected to do that too, particularly if it’s irregular. I know my employer would re-evaluate if I consistently had more than 40 hours, but still, the expectation from my employer is pretty clear. Companies that let salaried employees work whatever hours it takes to complete the job seem like a dream (or a nightmare if it’s a lot of extra hours).

          2. Sue*

            This is the situation that has companies and bosses micromanaging and installing tracking programs. It creates doubt/ distrust in people’s minds about what their remote employees are up to and punishes those who are honest and straightforward in their dealings.
            I could never condone this, I am repelled by actions that make others distrustful. It just feels like a small act that eats away at our societal norms and ethics and we have way way too much of that happening in our ever more contentious world. It becomes, “what can I get away with” rather than, “what is the right thing to do”. Ugh.

            1. Cold Fish*

              The distrust it creates is a good point.
              I can’t help but think this will also contribute/perpetuate the wage stagnation of the last 30 years.

                1. Cold Fish*

                  1. The OP is taking two high-level jobs. In theory, one of those jobs could have gone to someone moving up in the world. That would result in a position that is now empty and someone else can move up to that position. And so forth. At each point in the line is an opportunity to move up & negotiate a better salary. Theoretically. If that actually happens in real life is debatable.
                  2. I have seen many articles in the last 10 years about how many baby boomers aren’t retiring and it is causing a loss of high level jobs/skills for Gen X and Millennials to move into. This results in those generations earning less. (I’m quite interested on how/if COVID has changed that in any way given that baby boomers are at higher risk combined with a little less tech savvy for WFH set ups.)
                  I do believe that the #1 cause of wage stagnation has to do with the incredible wage gap between the top paid/CEO and lowest paid/bottom rung workers. I have yet to hear one valid reason why a CEO should be making 150+% more than their AVERAGE worker that doesn’t boil down to greed.

              1. Jax*

                I can see these stories being the basis for “butts in a chair” return-to-the-office pushes, particularly for lower-level staff, because they are always the focus of employer distrust. A read an article with a line about the inequalities in WFH that was so good I wrote it down:

                “…creating a new caste system where elites have anywhere jobs and non-elites are shackled to the office full-time…”

              2. Software Engineer*

                The wage stagnation will continue regardless of stories like this. The whole system is designed to funnel capital from the workers into the hands of the owners.

            2. Starbuck*

              What about the large act of rampant, unprosecuted and unaddressed wage theft in this country? More money is stolen from workers this way than any other form of theft. That should be the starting point in this discussion, not behaviors like OP’s.

              1. Nanani*

                Right? A handful of comments have said this is wage theft and they must have a different definition of it than any I’ve heard.

                1. Hey Nonnie*

                  I think the correct term is timecard fraud, even if there isn’t an actual timecard with a punch clock.

            3. Hey Nonnie*

              Unfortunately employers have largely been operating under “what can I get away with” for far longer than workers have, and there’s no winning against that as an employee with significantly less power in this dynamic. I don’t think anyone can act surprised when the end result is employees going “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

            4. efficient worker*

              in the battle of “what can I get away with” I assure you corporations have the upper hand, not individual workers. wages haven’t been stagnating for 40+ years because the *workers* are trying to cheat the system out of what’s fair.

          3. GiantPanda*

            Maybe if you said on Thursday afternoon
            “I finished everything I needed to do this week and plan to take it easy tomorrow. If you need me, please call/text/mail, I’ll call back. If nothing comes up I’ll see you Monday.”

            Probably still not okay with many employers but a lot easier to accept.

          4. jiggle mouse*

            I worked for a dot com back in the day that let employees take off when all critical work was done for the day. Not technically salaried, but we did get paid for the full time. I was also able to do some side work on the company dime (contract work populating a database), under the radar.
            I was definitely not the only person doing this, and quelle surprise, instead of getting my fancy title and stock options, the company went broke and folded.

          5. DocVonMittens*

            I work in tech (like OP) and this would absolutely be ok at every company I’ve worked for. If the work is done, so long as I promptly answer Slack DMs, etc no one cares if you take random days off.

            It’s probably very industry (and company) dependent, but 4 day work weeks are not uncommon in my industry.

            1. TechWorker*

              Lol where are these jobs?

              I work in tech too and I don’t do loads of overtime but also the work is NEVER done – there is absolutely always something to be improved, fixed, documented.

              Like yeah, if there’s been a big push and you did some late nights so you take off at 3pm on Friday – great. But that’s not common. All my work was quick so I’m buggering off at midday Thursday? Yeah that’s not gonna fly.

        3. Murphy*

          Not necessarily true. I was salaried at my last job but if I worked 39.75 hours I had to charge 15 minutes to PTO.

          1. River Otter*

            Businesses can set that expectation, but that is separate from DOL definitions of exempt vs non-exempt.

            1. Murphy*

              The point stands that just because you’re salaried doesn’t mean there isn’t an expectation of working 40 hours a week.

              1. River Otter*

                The point also stands that just because you’re salaried doesn’t mean there *is* an expectation of working 40 hours a week

              2. Hey Nonnie*

                If they were nickel and diming you over 15 minutes, I gotta wonder what they did for you when you worked 45 hours in a given week?

                1. River Otter*

                  Depends! I have worked for companies that gave you:
                  1. Bupkis
                  2. Paid you at whatever your regular rate would be-ie, no overtime premium
                  3. Bupkis for 41-47 hours, but paid your regular rate for 48+, including the first 7 over 40
                  4. Bupkis for 41-48 hours, but paid your regular rate for 49+, not including the first 8 over 40

          2. Midwest Manager*

            Salaried is different from exempt. Salaried Exempt jobs generally report leave in half-day increments and do the typical hand-wave of exact hours. Salaried non-exempt functions more like hourly, where hours are tracked and overtime is due for anything over 40 per week.

            Smaller companies (especially) tend to conflate the two and treat non-exempt employees as exempt “because salaried!”, which is incorrect. You comment suggests this may have been the case.

            1. River Otter*

              No, I am salaried exempt, and I also have to fill out a time sheet with minimum 40 hours. It’s common in some industries.

              1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

                Same here. I am salaried exempt. PTO is charged in quarter-hour increments, and your time sheet must equal 80 for the pay period. (And if you work over 80 for the pay period and are exempt, you have to falsify the time sheet so your hours equal 80!)

                1. Starbuck*

                  Wild! In my state (WA) it’s illegal to charge PTO for less than 1-hour increments, and partial days need to be from the request of the employee.

                2. who me?*

                  This is part of the imbalance that’s being discussed. Why can the employer get free hours (falsifying timesheets when worked > 80) when the employee can’t (use PTO when worked < 80)?

            2. Been there, done that*

              This is true. We have Salaried Exempt and Salaried Non-exempt classifications. The expectation for both is that the employee works between 35-40 hours each week minimum. The difference being when Exempt staff works over the 40, which is very frequent especially during certain times of the year, they are not paid OT. But with this, the exempt employees have more flexiblity with their time and don’t need to use leave for every doctor’s appointment or school function they want to attend during the day, etc.

          3. Starbuck*

            Interesting, in my state that would not be legal! Or at least it would mean you’d lose exempt status and be entitled to overtime pay.

            1. River Otter*

              I guarantee you, it is legal in your state. Lots of industries use what I call the “billable hours model,” with defense being the largest. IANAL, so I don’t know the details, but it’s definitely legal.

              1. Starbuck*

                I checked, it really is illegal in my state. Looks like we are also implementing the some of the highest minimum-salary-threshold rules in the country since the federal government failed to step up on that.

                WAC 296-128-532
                Deductions for salaried, exempt employees.
                (6) What deductions may be made from leave banks?
                b) Deductions may be made from bona fide leave banks in partial or full day increments. However, partial day deductions may be made only on the express or implied request of the employee for time off from work. Leave bank deductions may not be made for less than one hour.

                1. River Otter*

                  Ah, so you were referring to charging PTO for less than hr, not to filling in time sheet that is short of 40 with PTO.

                  Regardless, charging PTO for less than one hour is legal in WA state. How do I know this? I looked up the labor charging guidelines for my company at the Redmond, WA location. They quite explicitly say that PTO is to be charged in 0.5 hour increments. I guarantee that my employer is not breaking any state laws in any state.

                  Again, IANAL. Maybe a WA state employment lawyer can weigh in on how companies are able to get exceptions to the statute.

                2. Starbuck*

                  Hmm, the law seems pretty clear on not charging leave in increments of less than an hour for workers who meet the salaried & exempt test – and you might be surprised how often companies break these kinds of laws, because they don’t designate anyone on staff to be responsible for knowing them and keeping track of updates. Or they know but figure they’re unlikely to be caught or penalized.

        4. Foxy Hedgehog*

          Well, sure salaried positions come with an expectation of working set hours or exactly 40 hours (or more). Not all of them, of course, but mine certainly does.

          LW’s probably doesn’t, although I’m curious about that.

            1. knitcrazybooknut*

              Which is what salaried is supposed to be! Unfortunately, companies have interpreted this to mean, “we can work you as many hours as we want,” instead of, “get the job done and we don’t care if it’s 20 hours of work time.”

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                The question then becomes: what is “the job”? If I’m completing everything assigned to me in only 20 hours, I’m likely to be assigned additional projects or training for the other 20.

                1. Starbuck*

                  That’s up to the company. If they’ve determined that the amount of work the position needs to get done is X, Y, Z tasks, and you can get that done in 20 hours…. I just can’t fathom why you’d intentionally bring that up or try to get more work unless they outright asked you to. Most people work for money, not necessarily to give the maximum benefit to their employers. The national trend here is that productivity has risen but wages haven’t kept up, not to mention all the wage theft by employers… kudos to any worker out there doing a slow up.

                2. Former Gifted Kid*

                  I think this so much depends on the type of job and what its responsibilities are. I am a salaried fill time employee. My job is to manage a program. Sometimes I work more than 40 hrs a week. Most of the time less. As long as everything is getting done to make sure the program keeps running, it doesn’t really matter the number of hours I work. There are not additional projects really to assign me. I sometimes help out with other programs, but that’s more when they need an extra hand, not just because I have extra time.

                3. Green*

                  At the director level, you’re supposed to be self directed. In many/most companies, you don’t get assignments, and the job is never done. You are supposed to continue to find opportunities for improvement and development of the company, not accomplish discrete tasks.

              2. Quickbeam*

                Yes, I am retiring from a salaried job…..they couldn’t care less if it took me 80 hours a week to get the job done. As I told all our new hires: “No one will send you home after you worked too many hours. There is no magic line”.

                1. TechWriter*

                  Whereas in my salaried job, my boss trusts us to manage our schedules, but frequently encourages us not to work past our core hours. There are lots of different job structures out there!

          1. Katt*

            There’s usually the expectation I find but I think a lot of people have weeks where they are less productive. For example, this whole week I’ve felt like I’m pulling teeth as my head is not in the game. Still getting stuff done, just a slower pace. (Might be a little sick; crazy colds going around my social circle right now.)

            The thing is, if the OP is already only dedicating like 25 hours a week to each job, I don’t think they can afford weeks of being less productive. Usually if you have days or weeks where you don’t get as much done, you tell yourself “I’ll do better next week” and enjoy your weekend and come back on Monday feeling less burnt out. If the OP tries to do that, eventually they’re going to burn out themselves as they might get stuck in a cycle of endlessly trying to catch up by working more and more hours.

      3. Anonym*

        It’s also explicitly forbidden by a lot of companies, though terms may vary. I would be violating the terms of my employment if I didn’t disclose (for review and approval) any other sources of income I have. This is in the finance industry, FWIW.

        For OP’s sake I hope this isn’t her situation, and she’s just operating in a “if you can hack it” gray zone.

        1. OP*

          It’s not explicitly forbidden to have other employment/income sources at either company as long as there are no conflicts of interest. Obviously I’m interpreting that a specific way.

          1. Omnivalent*

            And that’s how you know this is unethical, OP – you’re interpreting in a specific way (that allows you to have two jobs on the down low) rather than in a way your employers might interpret it if you were transparent with them.

          2. M2*

            My job makes us write if we have other employment and if we want to consult/ etc we must get the ok. If you lie about it you will be fired and I don’t know what else. They send the form out quarterly I believe.

            A colleague of mine worked at pottery barn during the Holidays to get the discount for their home which was fine but another wanted to consult with similar clients and that was nixed. They ended up doing it anyway and let’s just say word got out and they were fired. One of the people they worked for also had their work for us rescinded since they knowingly used this employee to have a certain edge. Can’t say what I do but word got out in the network and they could not get what they needed at any similar caliber place because the client and employee were deemed unethical.

            Did you read all your handbooks/ check the policies of both companies?

            1. Regular Reader*

              +1 to this. Most work contracts I’ve had specifically stated that if you were contracted to work 35 hrs per week or more then you needed to inform the employer if you were working elsewhere. Equally staff above a certain grade were not given stated contracted hours but were expected to work the hours which were required to fulfil their role, and that can be interpreted both ways.

          3. hbc*

            You don’t see any conflict of interest when you have to delay meeting with an important client at Company A because you’re dealing with something more important at Company B?

            You may not get caught for having two jobs (because they don’t know why you’re shirking), but there is zero chance it’s not going to be noticed that you’re dumping all your work on dotted line reports and not able to show up when it’s crunch time.

          4. bluephone*

            I mean, the fact that you deleted your linkedin, made sure neither company posts staff photos online, are keeping completely mum about it, etc means that you know, deep down, that it’s not okay and could justifiably backfire on you. Which, fine, maybe that’s the choice you’re living with. You wanted to know if doing this was “okay” but it’s not like you’re going to quit one of the jobs if the entire readership said no, it wasn’t okay. So just accept the fact that you’re a jerk and put aside enough savings for when both jobs find out, fire you, and blacklist you.

        2. Hey Nonnie*

          I am amused when I see how this plays out when finance companies hire contractors. I was hired, as a contractor, by a finance company, and a month in they suddenly surprise me with a 15-page legal form that was “mandatory” for me to sign to work there. (So what have we been doing this entire last month?)

          Said form decreed, in part, that I was “not allowed” to have any sort of “side business.” Except… I did. I was a contractor. I was THEIR contractor. They had literally hired my “side business.” (I had other clients before, after, and around them; and I also ran a production company at the time, which had nothing to do with them or their field of business, so I wasn’t going to give them any say over whether or how I ran it.)

          So they told me I had to sign, I told them I was a contractor and not an employee, they insisted I sign anyway, I told them I couldn’t, they said I HAD TO, I started listing all the clauses I explicitly could not agree to because they were untrue, and… eventually the legal team just faded away quietly and I finished out my contract without having signed a thing.

          This was years ago and still makes me laugh.

        3. Katt*

          Government is like this too. You have to disclose any outside employment or financial interests. Part-time job at McDonald’s? Yep. Own an apartment building for income on the side? Yep. Want to volunteer for a political party during an election campaign? Gotta disclose. Depending on what you’re working on there could be conflicts of interest and they want to get ahead of that. If you’re working on regulations regarding automotive companies it might not be the greatest idea to buy $100k worth of stock in a specific company, for example. It can seem kind of invasive at times but I think the idea is that being beholden to the taxpayers, the government wants to make sure there’s no funny business going on behind the scenes.

      4. Harper*

        I don’t know, at a Director level (or even lower level management), you’ve reached a level in your career that your performance isn’t really measured by hours worked, but by output. I’m a department manager, and my boss doesn’t care (or even know) how many hours I work, as long as I’m not absent enough to have a negative impact, and as long as I’m meeting all my goals.

        1. LizardOfOdds*

          Came here to say this. I think this is especially true if you have a lot of experience in a specialized line of work. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but I’ve been doing my type of job for over 20 years and because I’ve “seen it all” at this point, I can make quick decisions and solve problems faster than my company expects. I can do my current job in <30 hours a week, and I've often considered consulting or freelancing on the side as an extra source of income – but my company's employment contract expressly forbids moonlighting, and I'm choosing to honor that because I want to behave ethically but also because it's kind of nice to get paid well for less effort. I see it as a sort of reward for busting my butt for the last couple of decades.

          Also, I never would have said the above even a year or two ago, so I'm in the same boat as Alison when it comes to the mindset shift. This pandemic has helped me get clear on my own values and what I'm willing to give to an employer in exchange for a given amount of money. In the past, I would have just found other things to do and kept pushing myself to grow and climb the ladder. Now… I'm good where I'm at making this amount of money for this amount of time commitment.

      5. Nanani*

        ….how? Wage theft, as I understand it, is when employers don’t pay correctly, like unpaid overtime.
        Employees cannot commit wage theft?

      6. efficient worker*

        It ain’t wage theft if you’re a salaried worker – that’s the point. Wages are paid for hours worked. Salaries are paid for results delivered. If that was true when salaried workers were expected to work 60 hours without overtime to deliver those results, it’s equally true when salaried workers deliver results in 25 hours.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Oh good point – I’d be very concerned if I saw two jobs over the exact same period, especially at that level. It’s not equivalent to say, a full-time receptionist position while working a full-time food service job or artisan shop owner position.

      2. JSPA*

        You pick one, I assume? And realistically, OP will likely have to let one job go after 3 or 6 or 9 months. At which point, they can go more public with the other.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I would definitely be worried about someone at the burned company then putting some pieces together.

          Maybe they won’t! Maybe no one ever knows. Barney Stinson could pull this off, what with being a fictional character and all.

          But it’s not a risk I’d feel comfortable taking with my future work prospects.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I’m super curious – how open are you about this in your personal life? How do you respond when people ask where you work?

              1. Emily*

                OP: This is why I think this is going to come back to bite you at some point. You never know who knows who. You may have deleted your LinkedIn, but if your family and friends know, I don’t think you should be shocked if one or both of your jobs finds out. Heck, other employees from each of your jobs could know each other. Even if neither of your jobs expressly forbids this, because you are not being up front about it tells me you know they likely wouldn’t be thrilled. Also, if I was one of your co-workers who was rescheduling Zoom meetings and doing other things to help you out, I wouldn’t be too happy if I found out it was because of conflicts with your other job. It’s one thing to be flexible with a co-worker because they have something they need to get done for a shared job, but I would not be at all inclined to be flexible if I knew it was because my co-worker was doing work for their other job, and it is definitely something I would report if I found out.

              2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

                I live in a pretty large city, but it’s like a very tiny town when it comes to overlapping work and personal contacts. I’d say half the people I know are less than six degrees of separation from each other. There are no secrets for very long under those circumstances.

                1. Tau*

                  Yeah, this is also where my mind went. I live in a major metropolis with a big tech sector. And yet, it seems like everyone knows everyone. OP, what will you do if an employee from company 1 applies to company 2 and you need to interview them? What if, after quitting, you send in your CV having decided company 1 is the one most aligned with what you want to do and someone in the hiring committee says “that’s strange, I worked with them at company 2 during this time?” There are so many ways this could blow up in your face even years after the fact.

                2. Sweet Christmas*

                  @Tau – especially in tech. It’s a pretty insular field particularly once you get to that level.

          2. Hills to Die On*

            But what happens when people see your resume and think ‘Company A? But OP worked at Company B with me at that time’? How would you address a LinkedIn profile?

            1. Starbuck*

              Simple solution, don’t bother with LinkedIn. Maybe techies use it? But very very few people in my professional network do.

              1. Emily*

                Starbuck: OP said they deleted their LinkedIn, but that doesn’t address the other issue Hills To Die On brought up, which I think is very valid. This is going to get figured out at some point. If OP is truly able to be stellar at both jobs without pushing work off on anyone else (and that is a big if), then maybe this won’t harm OP’s reputation/career too badly, but I think that is a pretty big gamble to take.

              2. Sweet Christmas*

                OP works in tech. It’s pretty ubiquitous in our field. I’d find it a little odd if someone didn’t have a LinkedIn. Not a dealbreaker, of course, just odd.

      3. Bye Academia*

        Yeah, and how small is the industry? Even if the OP eventually picks Company A and only puts that one on their resume, what if someone from or familiar with Company B recognizes the OP and starts asking questions about their time there?

        The longer this goes on the harder it’s going to be to avoid ramifications down the road, too.

      4. Dax*

        Pick the more impressive company/title, then list the key achievements from both roles under it. Not that it’s ethical and I’m not sure I’d have the guts for it, but it’s one way to do it.

      5. IDK*

        That’s one of my questions? If OP ever decides to move on or is let go for this, how will OP explain it?

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’m torn on the ethics in regard to employee/employers, but it’s hard to imagine this lasting without the double-dipping employee taking advantage of their peers. That’s what shifts the balance to unethical to me.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Good point. “Sticking it to The Man” is one thing, taking advantage of your peers and those working below you is another.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            “Sticking it to the Man” falls flat for me, but this is sauce for the gander being sauce for the goose when the prevailing business attitude is of salaried “You’re paid for 40 hours/week no matter how much more time your work takes.”

            1. hbc*

              At $200K a year in both positions, OP *is* the man. He’s literally relying on those other dotted-line people to coast, nevermind all the extra work of juggling his schedule that’s left to the peons, and people staying late to wait on an answer because he’s in mysterious meetings.

                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  You don’t have to be a man to be the man. It’s almost as if we didn’t need a sexist phrase for the person in charge/control.

                2. Avril Ludgateau*

                  “The Man” is a euphemism for “The Establishment” or “The Powers that Be”, irrespective of gender.

                  Yes, it’s sexist. It’s older slang.

          2. Katt*

            Well, it sounds like they have no direct reports at either job, unless I missed something. So at least that’s not going on. I wouldn’t be very happy if my manager was unreachable half the time!

            But I do wonder – how much work are their coworkers doing, and how will this reflect on them later? Sure, maybe neither job *needs* 40 hours of work a week, but I know a big component of my job for example is thinking and brainstorming, researching, etc. Sometimes I’m not straight up outputting work because I’m trying to mull over a problem or I’ve just spent 3 hours staring at spreadsheets and my brain needs a break. I have many random documents of notes and plans. Presumably that isn’t happening when the OP works two jobs, and it may soon become obvious if their peers start outputting more/better work and ideas than OP does.

            Also they said somewhere else that the training period is usually busier and then once they get into the flow of things it’s easier, but that hasn’t exactly been my experience. Usually in the first month or so you don’t have much to do and there are low expectations, and as time goes on they put more work onto your plate.

            1. Yorick*

              In the letter, OP specifically says they can make this work because there are people who “dotted-line report” to them and so they can lean on those people. That’s not ok.

        2. AndersonDarling*

          I was at a company where the CFO was also CFO of another company. He got away with it by hiring middle managers to handle everything. All he did was sign off on an occasional document.
          But, the company hired the middle managers so there wasn’t any deceit in that part. The only part that could be considered unethical was that the CFO didn’t do anything. But it seems like companies have those positions that sit around and don’t really do anything. And it’s not the fault of the employee, it’s the fault of the company for paying six figures for a role that doesn’t contribute.
          I don’t know how, but the rouse was discovered and he was canned.

          1. Chris*

            C-suite level people have been doing this for decades. I worked at a grant-making foundation that was split into four different entities, presumably with different priorities. But the same two people were CEO and president of each one, and they received four salaries that were incredibly generous, with special perks for each as well. All of the work was done by managers and they just signed the forms and went to meetings. All totally legal and reported to IRS accordingly. Did they actually deserve those salaries? I would argue no. If you can pull it off, more power to you.

          2. AVP*

            My husband has a job like this, but on purpose. His work is desperately needed for 3-4 months per year, but they’d rather have a full-time person they know well than rely on contractors who might not be available. And contractors are so much more expensive that he’s probably pretty equivalent budget-wise. So he sits around waiting for the occasional project n the off-months and knows that he needs to knuckle down during busy seasons.

            He wrote, sold, and marketed an entire book during this time that his boss doesn’t know about. But she obviously knows about his downtime so I don’t think she’d mind, exactly? It just seems like rubbing salt in a wound to actually bring it up.

        3. Alice*

          Yes, if I were one of the people who OP says she can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities, I would be pissed off when I found out. And I suspect they eventually will.

          1. Lord Peter Wimsey*

            That’s one thought I had on this — if you’re only doing your job part-time, someone else is likely making up those hours/ doing what you’re supposed to be doing for the other 15 hours. If I were that somebody else–propping up someone who is making $200K for 25 hours of work–I’d be plenty irritated.

            1. Despachito*

              I’d be pissed off too, Mr. Bredon, if I was burdened with LW’s slack, but nothing in their letter indicates that this is the case.

              Personally, I’d be happy if this becomes more of a practice. I am a freelancer, and one of the perks of this is that I can manage my time however I find appropriate, which means that I never had to worry about taking a kid to the doctor or anything else I needed to be arranged. I basically chose it to be able to be almost a full-time mom, and I think it worked. If someone chooses to do a second job instead… why not?

              To be able to manage your own time helps create better work-life balance, and if the job does not require the full 40 hours of your work, I see no point in spending the remaining time with your butt in your seat, twiddling your thumbs (of course, under the table, so that nobody could see you are actually doing nothing). As long as your outputs are OK … why not?

              The only problem I see here is an actual conflict of time – what will OP say if both their superiors schedule a meeting to the same hour (unlikely but not entirely impossible)? And a potential conflict of interest, but this can easily be a moot point if the two employers are not direct competitors?

              I hope this becomes so normal over time that it will not be necessary to keep mum about it. Good luck, OP!

              1. Remote Worker and Dog Lover*

                The difference with your example, though, is that you’re freelancing vs the OP here has two full time positions. If I am hiring a freelancer, I know they’re probably working for other companies. If I am hiring a full time person, there are different expectations!

                1. Despachito*

                  Yes, you are right in a way.

                  My work has a clearly defined output, let’s say, a finished teapot, and as long as I deliver this, no one cares what I am doing with the rest of my time. And if I don’t feel like taking another work, I can say “no”, and nobody will hold this against me.

                  When I was employed, I was working on my teapot on the company premises, with the difference that anyone from the company could come anytime during the working hours and ask me to do a saucer for her. I could not refuse, and if I was working on a teapot for a different manager who wanted it ASAP, I had to ask the one with the saucer to discuss the priorities with that other manager.

                  I got paid even if we were out of clay and I could not make any teapots at the moment, while at present, I only get paid for the finished teapot.

                  However, when we were out of clay (which was pretty often for about three years before we were laid off), we had the choice to sit on the company premises doing nothing, or to do work on our own projects, let’s say, to write a book of fiction. While it very likely was something we should not be doing at work , I do not think it was wrong ethically – we were not stealing the company time (as there was no work for us at the moment), and should a delivery of clay arrive, we were able to immediately put aside the book and start making a new teapot.

                  But you are spot on that the dynamics of employed vs freelancer IS different. For me, the dealbreaker would be “am I able to do what is needed and when it is needed in both jobs”?

              2. Yorick*

                But OP literally says this. “…awesome teammates who dotted-line report to me and who I can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities.” This sounds like OP cannot get really all their work done for these jobs without delegating some of it to teammates who are not as senior and therefore are going to have a hard time refusing extra tasks. That might be ok if it were necessary because there’s just so much work or OP wanted to give those people stretch projects or whatever. But OP is planning to do this so she can work another full-time job at the same time. This is just not ok.

              3. Sweet Christmas*

                Because freelancing is different from working for an employer. You trade in some of the flexibility and independence that you have as a freelancer for the benefits of being employed by someone else.

          2. OP*

            My meaning here was relying on others for the things they do in the course of their job, like data they crunch and provide so that I can make decisions based on that. Not pawning my work off on them.

            1. Cold Fish*

              Just because you aren’t “pawning off” your own work doesn’t mean what you are doing isn’t effecting them/their job.
              I would say 20-30% of my own job is organizing files/entering data in a specific way so that other departments have access/can understand. Some of which is incredibly stupid in my opinion but I do it because it is expected as part of my job. At a director level, where I assume you are setting/expected to set the standards, those decisions are only multiplied and lop-sided since those effected probably have less authority to push back.

              1. Coaster owner*

                Yeah, I just have a pretty hard time believing this isn’t impacting OP’s direct reports. That potential impact bothers me, not the collecting two salaries from two companies.

                On the other hand, I guess it could also be impacting them positively! A more hands-off manager can be for the better. If I have a manager I don’t particularly like, I’d rather than person be distant and pay me less attention rather than more.

                1. Emily*

                  OP: You may not have direct reports, but you have teammates who are most likely impacted by the work you do or don’t do. You also say in your letter that some of your teammates do “dotted line” report to you, so even if they are not your direct reports, there is almost certainly a power imbalance there that is in your favor.

            2. Salsa Verde*

              Yes, I believe I have a job like this. It does not take 40 hours per week, pretty much ever. And my work is independent enough that no one else would be required to (or even could) pick up any extra work for me.

              I have worked jobs where that is not possible, and so I can see where some commenters are doubting that the OP is really able to do this without negatively impacting other employees, but I can definitely imagine this working without a negative impact to OPs employees or peers.

              1. OP*

                My biggest concern is how this will negatively affect my peers on down. I am very very vigilant about this, have already asked for direct feedback from peers and those “lower on the food chain”, and regularly ask people how I can help them or how I can do my job better. I don’t ask anyone for favors or for any work that’s outside their normal scope. I know people are going to look at this skeptically and I get that…and I understand people might tell me one thing and think something else … but point taken and I will continue to monitor this.

                1. Yorick*

                  Junior employees are not going to be able to tell you that you’re dumping too much on them or not accessible enough or what have you. You have to personally make sure that you’re as available for them as you need to be, and I just don’t think you can do that for two jobs at the same time.

                2. Sue*

                  I guess it’s good that you’re concerned how your actions affect others but what about how it affects you. Do you think your family and friends respect you doing this? I would be appalled if I knew of this. If it’s ok, then disclose it to your employer(s) and let them decide, with full knowledge, that they are ok with it. If you fail to disclose, it’s because you know it’s wrong. There is a huge benefit to living an ethical life. Your reputation is so much more valuable than any amount of money. And this whole argument that employers are bad so employees are entitled to be bad is sad and destructive. Where does that end, something is always handy for a rationalization. Be better.

                3. miro*

                  In addition to what Yorick and Sue said, keep in mind that the people you’re asking don’t have the context that you’re not only working this job–which might seem obvious, or irrelevant, but I have definitely been in situations where I was fine with doing the amount of work I was doing for someone, getting the amount of support I was getting, etc because I was thinking of it in the context of that higher-up person’s schedule and priorities (as I understood them). If it turned out that that person had another job that was setting their schedule and priorities, it would change my assessment of the situation (in a negative way).

                  In general, I think people can have a difficult time knowing what the possibilities are for addressing something’s absence, if that makes sense. So in this case, people might not think of asking you for more of your time, attention, etc (even if they find it lacking) because they don’t realize that you’re devoting it to anything besides the job they work with you at.

                  Even if you don’t care what other people think of you, keep in mind that it could hurt you as well. Your bosses will probably assume that you’re doing your best and, if your best isn’t proving good enough, might jump right to pushing you out rather than asking you to spend more time and energy on projects (because again, they have no reason to think that there’s much more time in your week you could reasonably be spending).

            3. JSPA*

              And considering how many C-suite types were doing coke in the bathroom in the 80’s, or disappearing for weeks, or engaging in insider trading at the expense of their company, ‘merely’ giving solid (and sober) half-time attention to a job isn’t the worst thing that’s ever been done, by a long shot.

              Of course, a lot of those other things were illegal, and those guys (and they were pretty much all guys) ran a lot of companies into the ground, and destroyed a lot of the economy, while gussying up their own golden parachutes.

              So “much better than that” is a pretty low bar.

          3. Elle*

            This exactly. I was discussing the two-job WFH thing at lunch the other day and my grandboss said, “Oh, I could definitely manage that,” — it has really made me look at her poorly. Definitely made me put her in the category of “middle managers who are overpaid and have a cushy role without much work.” It makes me respect her less, and makes my morale lower about my own workload (which isn’t that bad, but still full time).

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

            So would I – this ruse only works because the dotted-line people aren’t also doing it, and fails the “what would it be like of everyone did that” test. Not to mention a Director ought to have fiduciary duty to the company and put its interests first in their dealings. I got the sense they’re fulfilling the ‘concrete’ duties of the role, e.g. presentation X for customer Y has to be made by a certain date – but less so the ‘abstract’ deliverables of contributing to the company’s strategy. (I wonder if it is their first time working at this level.)

        4. Estrella the Starfish*

          And I think I’d be more on board with this if it was a lower level employee whose work was likely undervalued. In this case OP is being paid £200k at each job so it’s unlikely this is undervaluing OP’s contribution (not impossible but highly unlikely). Then OP refers to relying on the the lower level employees to get things done for them as part of why this could work, which to me implies shifting the burden to them so that some of the hours OP would have worked will fall to them. So you end up with a senior person drawing two high, full time salaries while working part time at each job while lower level draw their lower salaries for working their full time hours and some of OP’s.

        5. Cold Fish*

          I think this is where I fall too. The work the double dipper won’t be able to handle (because I sincerely doubt they will be able to keep this up long term) will then fall on the co-workers at each job. OP may be a high producer and able to get more out the door than the average worker but if their co-workers are just standard producers, having to cover for OP (while OP is doing other job) may put them underwater. That is inherently unfair to them on multiple levels.

          It’s not so much a stick it to the man or employers have been screwing with employees and this is just consequences. Although, I don’t like either of those reasons. But I get the sense that OP knows this is wrong and is just hoping to get permission to do it. If it is not unethical, OP should have no problem telling both companies about her situation/plans to work both jobs.

        6. BlueDijon*

          And based on what OP is saying, these peers sound like they are not at a director level as well but are dotted line reports, so (imho) this is doubly unethical.

        7. Me (I think)*

          The LW already said they have dotted-line reports that they are handing off a lot of the day-to-day stuff.

          I do see this as straight-up unethical, even in the current climate. I am selling my employer 40+ hours a week as a senior level person but only giving them 25. And then there is the travel – 25% of both jobs is travel, which is one full week a month. The LW says they communicate their availability well in advance – what does that even mean? If my boss is sending me to work with a client, he does not want to hear that I am not available that week. Even if I tell him in advance.

          Unethical and untenable.

        8. Black Horse Dancing*

          If people support this, I never want to hear any complaints about someone committing timecard fraud or wage theft from those commentors because that is exactly what OP is doing. Heck, low level fast food clerks get fired for taking home expired burgers and this OP has two hugely profitable jobs and is wondering about the ethics? Yes, this is unethical. This is not Harry and Sally need to work two full times jobs each to make the rent. This is gleefully exploiting both companies. Honestly , for all people state ‘WFH is just as productive!’, this will be what spoils this. (OP, you’re the reason people can’t have nice things.)

          1. Texas*

            Ah yes, because companies would never exploit their workers and only do it because they know people OP take two jobs…

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              Nope, companies exploit their workers all the time. But they don’t pay those workers 200K.

              1. Texas*

                I’m talking about you blaming OP for companies treating their employees poorly, which is ridiculous.

                1. JSPA*

                  That’s not what it says; it says that we, the commentariat, should not object to rank-and-file timecard fraud, if we don’t object to the equivalent, in mid- and upper management.

                  I’d say that when a job is mostly about showing up / holding down the fort / making sure the process continues without delays, then showing up matters (at any level). When a job is 100% about completing a task by a certain date and time, then hours should not matter (at any level).

                  It’s not about the status: the vehicle needs to leave at a certain time, the driver and crew and maintenance need to be there dependably, whether that vehicle is a school bus, a garbage truck, Air Force One or a spaceship.

            2. Starbuck*

              Right? How about all those letters over the years where people write in saying ‘X number of people on my team quit/were fired, the company has refused to fill the positions and instead put the work on me.’ Employers do that ALL THE TIME. You might as well be properly compensated for doing two jobs, like OP is!

          2. Starbuck*

            If you’re salaried, you’re not necessarily filling out a timecard? You don’t make a “wage” or hourly rate so the concept of time theft may not even really be relevant for what OP is doing.

            If they are meeting the company’s expectations for the work required and they employer is satisfied with their work, honestly who are we to say that’s wrong? All I see is speculation about potential or hypothetical impacts to other workers, but there’s nothing actually concrete about harm.

            Your anger is so misplaced here. Wage theft by employers is the most rampant form of theft in the country, THAT is the reason why we don’t have nice things.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              If nothing wrong with it, have OP tell both companies they are working the other job.

              1. Starbuck*

                I just don’t agree that there’s an ethical obligation to tell your employer how you spend every hour of your day if you’re not filling out a time card, especially if you’ve got the flexibility of a salaried position and WFH.

              2. ElizabethJane*

                Why though. I have one full time job that I’m compensated well for (not $200K well, but well enough). I also write and publish independently on Kindle. I write during standard working hours. I meet all my deadlines, I’m available when I need to be (though I have deliberately scheduled meetings around writing events). My employer has no idea I write novels.

                1. Tea and Cake*

                  This is super interesting from the perspective that half of your employers know you have two jobs. (You.) But your point of completing work to the quality bar for Company as well as You (as Writer Employer), I’m hard pressed to come up with a retort that what you’re doing is unethical and you should disclose to Company about writing in the similar vein that others are commenting that LW should disclose to both employers.

                  There has been a lot of conversation that freelancing/contracting inherently allows/promotes this set up of multiple employers because of transparency and expectations that freelancers/contractors have more than one employer/source of income. I expect most freelancers don’t disclose information about other contracts they have ongoing, and I am not sure why LW’s situation is different. They have stated there’s not an exclusivity requirement by either employer, so I don’t understand why full disclosure is such a full throated response here.

                  I also just have logistics questions. Strategy for dealing with SS, Medicare, 401k contributions, to name a few, but I get that this isn’t the place for that.

                2. Sweet Christmas*

                  Writing novels (essentially freelancing) is not the same thing, though. You write and publish independently, so you can always choose to write less during busy periods at work, and you can always set aside your writing to attend to something that needs attending to at work. Managing your time between two employers is very different.

          3. Parakeet*

            Whatever you think of the ethics, this is not wage theft. Wage theft is employers denying employees pay or benefits that they’re owed.

          4. Minding my own Busyness*

            I think that is one of the things that bothers me about this. And that’s the work from home component. First of all, anyone who wasn’t working from home would not likely be able to pull this off and the fact that people are empowered to do it because they work from home doesn’t sit very well with me. There are a lot of people who have advocated very heavily with their employers to remain working from home and if companies find out this is happening, I can’t wait to see how quickly they yank everyone back into the office. Which also begs the question, how WOULD the employers feel about this arrangement? You might not perceive a conflict of interest but they certainly might. If it is ethically correct then why not let everyone in on it and let them decide for themselves? If they give their blessing, then by all means keep going. But I suspect even if they both agreed to the “arrangement” (which I still find unlikely), you would suddenly find your workload increased substantially if not doubled by both employers.

        9. Anon for this*

          Yeah, what broke me and started me job hunting (ironically coworker who broke me has since left but the fact that this was considered okay broke me) was a coworker who just wasn’t available during the day to take emergencies that came in. He worked 40 hours, yes, that was clear, but the random disappearing at odd hours (in his case it wasn’t for another job, it was for educational opportunities) while we were supposed to be available really bugged me. Because that meant I had to do EVERYTHING that came in during the day that was an emergency.

      2. Colette*

        I think for me the issue is the lying. If it were truly OK, the OP would be able to tell both employers she has two jobs. If she did that, there’d be no issue.

        But she’s not doing that, because she knows it’s not OK.

        And if she’ll lie about that, what else would she lie about?

        (Interestingly, I see parallels to the guy who booked off every Saturday he’d have to work because he’d figured out how to predict them in advance. )

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Not necessarily… lying isn’t always a sign that you are doing something unethical. It could instead be a sign that the entity you are lying to is unethical.

          There’s a power dynamic between an employer and employee, which employers historically use to exploit workers. Is it unethical to lie to protect oneself from being exploited? I don’t think it is. And I do think it’s exploitative to play dog in the manger with an employee’s time – if you are paying someone to accomplish X, and they do, you got what you paid for. If it took them half as long as expected… so what? They should still get paid as agreed and be free to use their remaining time however they like. The fact that many employers DO make exploitative demands on salaried employees’ time using their livelihood as leverage makes it morally okay for an employee to lie about how their time is spent, in my opinion.

          I think the argument is quite different for hourly employees, where the employer is paying directly for their time.

          1. KHB*

            “They should still get paid as agreed and be free to use their remaining time however they like.”

            If “whatever you like” means watching cat videos or playing solitaire or writing poetry – things that you can easily set aside if something comes up at work – then sure. But the thing about a second full time job is that it’s not just a diversion to fill in the gaps – it’s an ongoing, active claim on your time.

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              Obviously the type of work matters a lot here. But assuming that the employer finds the quality, speed, and quantity of work satisfactory… why should they get to dictate how the employee spends their remaining time?

              The practical question is separate from the ethical one. I don’t think there are many full time jobs that someone could accomplish in a satisfactory way while working a second full-time job. But that would be equally true if someone was working two full-time jobs during separate hours (i.e. a day shift and a night shift) – they would almost certainly be too tired, distracted, and burned out to do adequate work at either job.

              I doubt many people would say getting a second shift job is unethical…. just that it’s unwise. In fact, I think most people would vigorously defend an employee’s moral right to work a second job (or go to school, or run a business, or do caregiving, etc) outside of scheduled work hours even if it did impact their performance on the job. If a manager wrote in about whether they should fire an employee upon discovering she had a second night shift job, I expect the advice would boil down to “decide based on her work performance, not this new background information. If you wouldn’t have fired her before, why would you do it now?”

              The issue is that many people no longer have a clear delineation between work and non-work hours. They can’t get a second job after their regular business hours when there are no regular hours to begin with. Should they lose the moral right to spend their non-working time on things that might affect their job performance?

              1. Colette*

                I disagree that there are no regular business hours. In my organization – and those of most people I know – you can count on someone being available between, say 10 and 3.

                If the OP had a second job that agreed she could work 4 – midnight, that would be a different story.

          2. Colette*

            I don’t think it’s exploitive to expect that someone you’re paying is working for you and not someone else, no. Even if you’re paying them a salary, you are paying them to be available to work – and the OP isn’t, because she’s working elsewhere.

            1. Colette*

              To add to that, I don’t think it’s unethical to lie to someone who isn’t entitled to the truth. If the barista serving you coffee asks for the code to your alarm system, it’s OK to lie. If your friend asks how much money you make, it’s OK to lie. If your boss asks what you did on Saturday (assuming you weren’t scheduled to work Saturday), it’s OK to lie.

              If your boss asks you what you were doing on Saturday if you were scheduled to work, it’s not, because your boss is entitled to know the answer to that question.

              1. LizM*

                But, I don’t get why you need to lie in those situations? Why not just say you don’t feel comfortable sharing that info?

                The only time I think it’s ethical to lie is if it’s unsafe to tell the truth.

                So if your boss asks what you did on Saturday, and you know there may be professional consequences if you tell them to mind their own business, then maybe a lie would be ethical. But in my experience, 95% of the time, it’s easier to just not answer the question than to make up an answer.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            I think for most of us, if we were told “I might lie to you… but it’s BECAUSE we’re part of an unethical system!” then we would nope right out of dealing with that person. Even if we agreed, in the abstract, re capitalism or whatever–it’s not an appealing trait in someone who’s actions might impact you, and one that rightly should bring your guard way up.

            Lying about whether you have two full time jobs really isn’t in there ethically with lying about whether you saw any Jews hiding from the security sweeps.

        2. kittymommy*

          This! There’s a reason why the LW sent the question in to see if it’s okay, because deep down they probably realize it’s not. It’s dishonest. It may be dishonest by omission, but that doesn’t excuse it.

        3. JB*

          People who make lying the center of their ethics are fascinating to me.

          I write and publish romance books in my spare time and make money from them. If my day job (in an unrelated industry) ever found out, there’s a very good chance they would fire me. At the very least it would put me in an awkward and vulnerable position, since they would also necessarily find out that I’m queer, which is not something I want to be known about me at work.

          If they were to ever ask, I would lie about it. I already lie by making up vacation plans etc. when most of my PTO is actually used for writing. (Note I always make sure there’s no hardship to my boss or coworkers for me taking particular days off – I’m not lying to avoid my PTO being changed or anything, just to handle casual conversations about what I did on my ‘vacation’).

          From your perspective, am I doing a bad thing? Am I being unethical?

          1. Stephen!*

            Why do you think you’d get fired?

            I do think there’s a huge difference between concealing facets of your identity from potentially hostile people and working two jobs at a time and hiding it.

          2. Despachito*

            No, I think you are not.

            You are not doing any harm to anybody, you are lying to lie low and avoid any potential repercussions in a matter which is by no means related to your work.

            Your coworkers are not entitled to know every detail of your private life.

            I think you are fine :-)

          3. Cold Fish*

            I don’t have problem with lying per se. There are things that is not in the business scope of work, like your purpose for taking PTO. But, like Foxy Hedgehog comments below, the problem is if you are telling work you are working 40 hours a week but actually spending 15 of those hours writing instead.

          4. Colette*

            No, if you’re using your non-work time (including vacation), that’s not an issue – your employer is not entitled to know what you’re doing after work, on weekends, or while you’re on vacation.

            But they are entitled to know you’re working another job during the time they’re paying you.

            1. Colette*

              But if you claimed to be working from home and actually went to a writers’ convention, that would be an issue.

              1. ElizabethJane*

                What if I claim to be working from home and rather than taking a 15 minute break to scroll FB and make myself a coffee I actually sit down a jot a few lines in my novel? Because I do that daily.

                1. Colette*

                  The details matter. Is it 15 minutes once a day? 15 minutes an hour? 15 minutes-that-turn-into-an-hour? If work comes in during that time, do you notice and deal with it?

          5. Software Dev*

            Yeah if my boss straight up asked me if I was looking for another job and I was, i would lie. Lying is not an intrinsic wrong.

          6. fueled by coffee*

            The difference here, though, is that you are using PTO and your off-hours to write your romance novels. You are not fully disclosing what you do with your time off work, but this is akin to someone working, say, a 9-5 job and a second evenings/weekends job, but not telling people at the 9-5 about the second job.

            What OP is doing, though, is simultaneously “working” at two different jobs during the same hours, and only putting in 25 hours at each rather than the full 40 the employer is expecting, not because they are unproductive at work, but because their time is occupied with work for a secret second job.

          7. Falling Diphthong*

            I like that, as a writer, you’re probably good at coming up with elaborate tales of your mythical vacations.

      3. Foxy Hedgehog*

        For me the ethical question boils down to this–

        A hypothetical situation: one of your higher-ups says “Out of curiosity, how many hours did you spend working for us last week?” What do you say? Do you lie and say 40 hours or more? Or tell the truth and say 25? If the plan is to lie, I would lean toward considering this unethical. If the plan is to tell the truth, then I wouldn’t. But that’s a feeling, and your mileage may vary.

        I guess I would be interested to know if there is anything in either offer letter/contract that forbids this.

        1. OP*

          Nothing is ever stated about number of hours you work. It’s expected and understood that you work the hours needed to do your job. No such thing as a 40-hr (or whatever arbitrary number) work week. If one person needs 25 hours and another needs 60 to accomplish their goals/do the same job, both will be paid the same.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Does that mean if this hypothetical situation arises, you’ll tell the truth? You kinda dodged Foxy’s question.

            1. Clancy*

              Just have a clear get out plan for when this all comes out and you lose both jobs, your reputation is trashed, and you can’t get hired in your area/field again. Because sooner or later it will. All it takes is for someone who works at one of your employers to move to the other one, notice you work there, ask a confused question or two and then tell everyone what’s going on and boom, you’re fired. Or any of the dozens of scenarios I can imagine where this comes out with very little effort.

              Start figuring out how to bombproof your reputation against that inevitability while you have the luxury of being able to, or your career is gonna be toast.

              1. Foxy Hedgehog*

                All right, if that’s the answer (and the implication that they would be fine with it if you told them), then I don’t see a problem with it. You give them 25 hours of work, they’re presumably okay with that, and so it’s generally none of their business what you do with the other 143 hours in your week as long as it doesn’t directly affect them in some way.

          2. miro*

            Since you mention there being multiple people doing the same job it might be helpful to look at and talk with others in your same or closely equivalent positions. What kind of hours are those people working? (maybe look at the median, since you might have outliers at each end but that’s not necessarily great to model yourself after, especially as someone new) How much are they accomplishing? How flexible are their schedules (as in, how often are they cancelling/moving meetings or trips?
            Obviously there will be some differences as a result of you being much newer to the position, but it can still help you get an idea of expectations. If you find that all the other people doing your kind of work are spending 60h/wk on it while you’re spending 25, that’s worth digging into–maybe you’re just that much more amazing and efficient than everyone else, but maybe you’re not (and really, if you are actually that much better, then you’re probably the kind of superstar who could get away with this even if it does come to light).

      4. Viki*

        Ethically, I am against it because it’s one of the things that is a lie by omission. I shouldn’t have to ask if someone is working a second full time job while I expect them to be working the full time job I am paying them for.

        Legally, no clue.

        Ethically, if I found out my employee was doing this, would fire them for ethics

        1. KHB*

          This is exactly why many employers have “conflict of interest” policies that explicitly require you to get prior permission for this sort of thing. You don’t get to play dumb after the fact and say “But I was getting all my work done, so I didn’t realize it would be a problem.” The employer is telling you in advance that they consider it a problem (or at least a potential problem that they want to talk with you about before you go ahead and do it).

        2. Mike*

          I think it’s interesting you say “fire them for ethics” as they can just fire them anytime they like for any reason (outside of protected classes) or no reason. I just get the feeling that all the ethical burden is one-sided.

          1. KHB*

            Something being legal (or not-illegal) doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ethical, though – especially when it comes to employment law in the US, where very little is actually illegal.

            It may be legal for an employer to fire an employee for no reason, but how many employers actually do that? Certainly not any of the good ones.

          2. Don*

            Yeah this is why I just can’t be bothered to give an f over the ethics of this beyond as an abstract. There’s unquestionably a lot of people in here who would be aghast at the idea that an employee doesn’t owe an employer 2 weeks notice on resignation. But employers, on average, don’t tell folks they’re gonna be hitting the bricks in two weeks. If you’re lucky they let you collect your stuff from your desk/locker yourself rather than come back to get it in a few days. Jobs that offer severance are rare and severance without considerations like non-competes/non-disparagment/etc are effectively non-existant, but your compensation during that two week’s notice you handed over doesn’t come with any extra considerations.

            A person commanding a 200k salary (or two) is clearly at a whole different power level from 95+% of the population but there’s still a power imbalance. I don’t see any reason to get het up on behalf of either “side” here. Letthemfight.gif, as it were.

          3. Viki*

            For my company, we have a code of conduct and an ethics policy/contract that has yearly trained and requires signature by the employee.

            By my company’s internal policies this is a breach of our company ethics and, therefore a fireable offense for ethics, which would be on their file in HR and would reflect in any reference check etc.

            1. Mike*

              But you didn’t write the policy, they did. And you notice the ethical burden is all one-way. If they breach your ethical guidelines your only option is to walk; your reference for them is highly unlikely to be checked.

      5. Iris Eyes*

        It kinda reminds me of some of the ethics of polyamory. There’s definitely some differences but I wonder if that would be a good paradigm to explore for best practices and navigating the ethics.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Agreed, that could be a useful framework.

          My uninformed understanding is that, in ethical non-monagamy, everyone involved knows that it’s not monogamous. So, if OP told both companies what was going on and they were okay with it, then great.

          OP is intentionally lying by omission, knows that this is wrong, and is still doing it. So, they know it’s unethical and wrong.

          1. Mike*

            I think this is where the analogy breaks down. It seems it’s ok for someone on 30K/yr to have 2 jobs and in fact it’s promoted as a way to pay your rent and feed your family. But suddenly it’s ethically dubious if it’s 100K or 200K?

            1. Librarian*

              First, I think it’s repulsive that people need 2 FT jobs just to pay rent and feed their family. However, the thing with that is those people are not working both FT jobs at the same time. THey leave their retail job and go bartend. That’s why this is different, she is working 2 FT jobs in a span of 50 hours a week.

        2. Not the same thing*

          Polyamory requires everyone involved to be aware of what’s happening. This is more akin to someone having a secret second family.

          1. Omnivalent*

            Right. And justifying it because the heteronormative nuclear family structure has historically been sexist and oppressive, therefore it’s okay for me, specifically, to cheat or have a second family my spouse doesn’t know about.

        3. Avril Ludgateau*

          One of the cornerstones of polyamory/ethical non-monogamy is that all partners are adequately informed and give consent to the arrangement(s).

      6. Midwest Manager*

        I’m in the “this is unethical” camp because of the employer expectations of director-level employees. OP’s excuse of “there are plenty of jobs right now” is a rationalization of something they inherently know they should not be doing. The secrecy behind the act also points to the social contract that is assumed with full-time work.

        OP’s situation is different from one where a person might have a full-time director level job, and have a full-time side-gig as a bartender, musician, or sound technician at the theatre. Side jobs like that are expected to be completed during the non-traditional workday of 8-4/9-5, no matter how many hours outside of that you’re working. Two traditional workday schedules running concurrently screams poor judgement to me. Counting on coworkers who semi-report to you to pick up the slack while you’re pulling double salaries does not seem like someone who conducts themselves in an ethical manner. And for someone in a strategic financial role… red flags everywhere.

        1. Despachito*

          OP’s excuse of “there are plenty of jobs right now” – OP used it in a context that they are not taking the job from anyone, not to excuse they can afford it because of the favorable market.

          1. Cold Fish*

            But they can’t know for sure they aren’t taking the job from someone else. Perhaps because they took the job another person isn’t being given the chance to move up in the world. There could be an entire ripple effect of promotions that are no more because OP decided to “scam” the system.

            1. Nanani*

              Eh, “they’re taking our jobs” is not a good argument for anything ever.

              OP might not be 100% ethical (I can’t make up my mind tbh) but they aren’t scamming anyone.

              your strawman can get a job too.

          2. Goody*

            And while it may be an “employee market” right now, that does NOT mean that there’s a glut of director- level positions available and not enough qualified candidates. So OP may in fact be taking a job away from someone else who is qualified and forcing that other person to work in a positionf for which they’re overqualified and for less than they’re worth.

            1. Despachito*

              I personally do not believe in “taking the job from someone else”.

              Again – I am a freelancer, and with years experience I think I got pretty efficient, meaning that I am probably able to do, say, about twice as much work as an average peer.

              Does it mean that if I take two times the amount of work of an average peer, I am “taking their job from them”? I absolutely do not think so. Anyone can do the same if they are able to.

          3. Minding my own Busyness*

            Yeah, and there may be plenty of jobs right now, but trust me, there are NOT plenty of $200K jobs right now.

        2. Katt*

          Sounds like they don’t exactly have direct reports, but… Can I just say I would be displeased if I was trying to get ahold of my coworker and they weren’t around randomly? Say I work 8-5 (8 hours with an hour break) 5 days a week. That’s 40 hours. OP is working 8-7 (10 hours with an hour break) 5 days a week for 50 hours. Or maybe they are working 7-6, or some variation thereof. But unbeknownst to me I only have access to them for 25 hours a week. What if my job is the one where they are working from 2-7 PM? Or 1-6 PM? I actually technically only have 15 or 20 hours a week in which I have access to ask them things or get assistance on something, which I have no idea about. I have coworkers who work different shift arrangements but we all know in advance that they’ll only be around until 1 or 2 PM.

          To be fair, perhaps the OP in this scenario is switching back and forth between the two jobs during the day as needed. Maybe two computers, waiting for emails and messages on each computer to respond to as they come in.

          That’s to say nothing of the fact that they might confuse things between two jobs, i.e. policies, names of people, tasks. Or someone from the first company may leave to join the second company and see that OP is also a director there. Totally innocently, they may mention to someone the fact that OP is also a director of a division at the first company, or say something else not realizing the secret that the OP is trying to keep. (“Oh yeah, I worked with OP on x task at Company A last year; they can vouch for my abilities!” “Wait, OP has been working for us for the past two years. How does that work?”) What if someone at Company A uses OP as a reference at a new company, and the person doing the reference check worked with OP at Company B during the timeframe of the reference, but has since moved on to Company C?

          I know the OP says that the two companies are not competitors and that they don’t work with each other, but someone at a high enough level as to easily get director jobs isn’t exactly forgettable, in my opinion… If they have a unique name, as well. Also, what if one company ends up partnering with the other in some fashion? Perhaps not all my scenarios are plausible. This seems a bit like a house of cards to me…

        3. Anon for this*

          My boss isn’t even working two jobs, it’s just that their schedule is booked solid with meetings, all day, every day. It’s amazing the number of things that come up that aren’t… urgent, per se, but they need five minutes of boss’s time to resolve, and typically come with at least one person who is becoming increasingly irate that I cannot do the (again, simple, it just needs boss’s okay to proceed!) basic thing they want and starts yelling at me for putting obstacles in the way of getting the basic thing done for them.

          Maybe OP doesn’t see any problem dealing with minor things like this during a specific, set amount of time every few days, but OP’s direct reports are the ones who are going to shoulder any abuse when they’re available and OP is not.

          1. Tea and Cake*

            This seems a likely situation regardless of being employed at two companies. For example a situation will likely arise where coworkers at Company A are awaiting feedback and there’s something else within Company A taking/prioritizing LW’s time. The (unfortunate) result is coworkers will have to wait and possibly still not have context as to the other work/priority.

      7. Bill*

        The part that really rubs me the wrong way is that this person is likely able to manage this by having his coworkers and those who dotted line report to him pick up the slack and other tasks. It’s likely they have a heavier workload because of them taking advantage of this situation. This person can assign tasks to them, thus making room for the other job. So, while this person is raking in two high salaries, others are working 60 hours a week because this person can dictate workload as a director level employee.

      8. pandq*

        A manager perhaps can get away with this for however long, depending on their manager’s expectations. But it grates at me as being unethical unless it’s disclosed and okayed by both employers. My first thought is because a lower level worker would not be likely to have the same “privilege”. So, yeah, it’s about privilege for me. And taking advantage of one’s privilege, even if acknowledged, when NOT advocating for others to have the same, is unethical. This is just my first reaction to the situation.

      9. Anonym*

        I think if OP can truly deliver good performance for both organizations and isn’t actively deceiving them, it *could* maybe be justified. But good performance, especially at a strategic level, is pretty nebulous and hard to pin down. And does a company have a reasonable expectation that an employee delivers the best of what they can do in a 40 hour week? Not sure. This would probably actually be easier to justify if the jobs were more in the “deliver 40 widgets a week” realm! Then you know whether or not you’re delivering on what your employer is paying you for.

        Deception is probably a matter of individual conscience and ethics, not to mention the friction of having to hide or withhold information from many people for a long stretch of time. That’s hard on most folks, I would bet.

        I couldn’t live with the tension of it personally, and while I don’t feel like companies deserve the same level of loyalty, respect or good treatment as an actual human, living in a state of deception (however justified by personal beliefs about the legitimacy of a corporation’s claim to my labor) doesn’t jive with the person I want to be. But if it works for OP, and doesn’t place her in violation of either company’s terms of employment and she can perform at a level her managers are happy with… seems ok?

      10. Omnivalent*

        You answered this question yourself: “You’ve represented yourself as selling something different to them than what they’re actually getting.” I don’t see that becomes any less unethical just because some employers have historically been crappy.

        One huge ethical issue is that the OP has no way of knowing for sure that there no conflicts between the two companies or the work that they do. For all the OP knows, Company A just got a majority interest in a competitor of Company B, or Company B is working on a confidential project that will add a Company A-style product to its lineup. If OP had been transparent, then the companies could screen for this and make decisions accordingly.

      11. DashDash*

        For me the unethical part is actually taking a possible job from someone else. A lot of places are hiring, sure, but I don’t think it’s a lot of $200k/year positions (though maybe that’s just my assumption). That amount of money would change my life drastically. If OP really does need that much income, ok cool, but the reality is someone else is NOT getting that salary/benefits/title.

          1. Mike*

            You can make 2 jobs available by becoming unemployed. The analogy I’m going with is that if a single company decided to combine 2 directorial jobs into one but (and this is the unlikely bit) give the one person both salaries would that be unethical? After all you’re putting someone out of work.

            1. Tea and Cake*

              In this analogy I’m not sure the salary matters in terms of ethics. And this isn’t an unheard of situation! Companies do combine roles and reduce headcount to accommodate the new direction for the role/structure for the company. This analogy highlights the employer for restructuring, and doesn’t seem to play into the employees ethics.

            2. Sweet Christmas*

              That’s not a good analogy. In one case, one person is occupying one job. In the other, one person is occupying two separate jobs. Combining two roles into one still means one role, which only one person could occupy. It’s not like if they don’t hire OP they would hire two people instead.

              I don’t find this a super persuasive argument, but still, the argument is that this person is taking more than they need, not just that they are occupying a spot at all.

      12. Curious*

        In addition to the fascinating ethical issues of doing this without overt misrepresentation … I think that, to the extent this becomes “a Thing,” employers are going to explicitly start to pin employees down on this by asking for an explicit representation from each employee as to whether they have any other employment.

      13. A tired director*

        I have to agree with a few earlier commenters who (to paraphrase) indicated that it’s the nature of the job which would cross the line between ethical/unethical. Strategy is not coding. I feel this is inherently unethical due to the nature of OP’s work.

    1. Firm Believer*

      As it should. This should not be endorsed. Someone did this to me this year and did terrible work, didn’t even check her email. This is the type of behavior that will eventually put an end to all this remote flexibility.

          1. Anon for this*

            This. It’s possible to be not slacking in terms of quantity of work done, but enraging coworkers in terms of lack of engagement and availability at short notice.

    2. Dust Bunny*


      For the record: My employer treats us very well. “Well, they’re just out to squeeze as much work as they can and pay us as little as possible,” wouldn’t work as justification. I mean, yes, wage costs are a concern–we’re a nonprofit–but we also have good benefits and PTO and are encouraged to use them, we’re treated well, disciplinary problems are handled, etc. No bees here.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I also think that’s an ethicially interesting justification because while it can describe problems with a power imbalance between employers/employees on a macro level, it may not apply to a given company.

        So there’s the question of how your behaviour is justifiable in a broader capitialist system and also the question of how your behaviour sits in relation to the smaller orgs that you operate within. I know I’d feel way more uncomfortable with this if I knew that OP was working for small orgs that were trying to find their feet, or nonprofits that were squeezed for resources. I’d feel less uncomfortable if they were behemouth organizations with lots of political clout.

    3. Enginerd*

      Same. Our company has an explicit policy and a form you fill out for a second job, even if it was just delivering pizzas or driving Uber at night (both are a NO! because of perception that means the company isn’t paying you enough and they don’t want those optics). But, finding out an employee was working a second “similar” job would be immediate ethics violation and dismissal!

      1. Sophia Brooks*

        Wait, what? You can’t work a similar job OR a dissimilar job? That seems odd. Until Covid, I alway had a second job. Usually my second job was theatre, so it would be easily explainable by this criteria , but if my job told me I couldn’t be a cashier at a grocery store on the weekend without any conflict of interest, that seems wrong.

    4. mreasy*

      I mean, if you got fired at one company you’d still have the other $200k job so…gosh this risk seems kinda okay to me.

    5. Name (Required)*

      My only comment is that the OP needs to make sure they are having enough withheld for taxes or plan for a bill to come due at tax time. Their tax rate at each is probably not going to be high enough for the combined tax rate.

      On the other hand, they’re going to overpay on FICA since the two jobs will not coordinate that, but they will get it back when they file their taxes.

    1. ecnaseener*

      That’s my big question for OP! I guess you’ll just have to pick the more impressive one and leave the other one off.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          And which one gets dropped depends on what position you’re applying for, I guess.

          1. The Original K.*

            Yes – if you’re tailoring your resume to each job to apply for, you’re going to be omitting stuff anyway.

      1. Dana Lynne*

        If he’s making 400K a year total he won’t need a resume any more if he can pull this off for a few years!

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Conversely, depending on how things fall apart if they do, a résumé might not be enough to overcome the reputational fallout for a few years.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I would bet he’ll find a way to spend the enhanced salary. It’s what humans usually do.

          Even if he banks one salary, he’d have to that for a long time to accumulate enough to retire on.

          1. OP*

            She/her pronouns, and yeah, as a woman in tech who has gone through her fair share of sexual harassment and discrimination and wage gaps, part of me feels like it’s my turn to stick it to them.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I’ll note that you’re mixing a lot of people into them–because some thems underpaid you in the past, you should be able to stick it to some completely separate new thems who seem to be paying you well while offering good work-life balance and flexibility. In a way that might lead the new thems to fire you while lightly flambeing your professional reputation. (Or not! You might get away with it. But it seems a lot to stick it to… people who offered you a good wage and working conditions.)

              1. A Genuine Scientician*


                “Other people have mistreated me, so now I get to mistreat others — not those who mistreated me, mind you, just other people who are in some way similar.”

                That’s not how this works.

                It’s the same way how I don’t think employers being bad about ghosting applicants means that it’s appropriate for applicants to ghost employers. If you’ve been ghosted by *this particular* employer/manager before, maybe, but just one in general?

            2. Wednesday*

              I was fine with your plan before, and am even more fine with it after learning these details! Go you!

            3. Starbuck*

              Honestly kudos to you. I can’t count the number of letters I’ve read here from people who’ve been assigned the work of 2-3 positions because their employer couldn’t be bothered to re-hire when people left. Happens all the time. If you can do two jobs well enough to satisfy the work expectations they want from you, go for it.

            4. Colette*

              And when they discover what you’re doing, what happens the next time they consider promoting a woman to your job?

              1. L*

                Yikes. Hopefully they don’t hold the actions of one woman against all women, and if they do, then they even more deserve this.

                1. Colette*

                  It’s not necessarily a conscious choice they make, though. They’ll think “should we hire/promote Jane? I don’t know, she reminds me of OP, and she wasn’t great. Let’s go with Bob.”

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  If you’re in either the majority or the group with power, you can do a bad job and it’s just “Yeah, Fergus was a terrible llama groomer.” But if you’re in a minority, then “We tried having an Irish llama groomer, and it didn’t work–wouldn’t take that risk again” is a shorthand many people use. (To be clear, I view this as “Why -isms are unfair” not “Why you must be a model minority.”)

                  Past letters: One of two Sri Lankans and the other one is screwing up. One of two people with the same unusual last name (cousins) and people don’t guess there are two of you.

              2. Sweet Christmas*

                I don’t agree with this person’s actions, but it’s not her responsibility to be a model or representative of all women tech workers. If the employer decides to generalize her behavior to other women’s, that’s a failing on their part.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      This was my question as well. Especially at a level as senior as the LW describes, it seems like it would be important to be making community connections and building up a reputation. Someone might refer a potential client to “LW, who does such great work at Teapots, Inc.”, only for it to turn out that the person already knows LW from Llama Co., or whatever.

    3. Admin 4 life*

      My thought too! Or background checks for a future job. Would you just list the one you held the longest and hope they have no way to find out about the other one?

      I’ve filled out previous employment checks and I have no idea how in-depth those verifications actually go.

  2. King Friday XIII*

    If you set your own hours, I’m not sure I see this as much different than when I worked a retail job and a food service job in college. The food service job SAID I couldn’t have another job, sure, but I was making minimum wage, and yes, sometimes I lied and said I had classes when I had shifts at the retail job.

    Now if you’re supposed to be available at both jobs, that does get more complicated. Good luck figuring it out in the long term, OP, and be careful you don’t burn out!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      That’s pretty different. Your food service and retail jobs couldn’t overlap. No one sat waiting for their dinner because you were ringing up someone’s purchase at your other job.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yeah. My first thought was how impossible this would be at the lowest level of most organizations. It just feels icky to me that someone making that much money can do both jobs but people making the least amount usually don’t have that option.

        And if I made that much money & had that much free time in my job, I wouldn’t *want* a second job. I’d use the time to read or pursue a hobby or do something… Fun & interesting.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      As I noted below, there is a huge difference between an entry-level job and a director-level job. Directors at many companies are expected to not simply execute orders from above, but to initiate activities that benefit the company.

      1. Estrella the Starfish*

        I think it’s the lack of overlap that’s key rather than seniority. If you have two senior positions but the hours you are expected to be available don’t overlap, you’re doing nothing wrong.

        1. Yessica Haircut*

          Yes, this is like how an executive director of one nonprofit may serve on the board of another nonprofit, or how someone working in a research role might also teach a course in their specialty at a university unaffiliated with their employer. Even at a high level, people stack jobs with the approval of their primary employer, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their main job.

          1. Sweet Christmas*

            Board service and teaching a class are different, though – they’re both understood to be things people don’t do full time (when we’re talking about adjuncting…and yes, I know many adjuncts cobble together classes to be full time…that’s not what I mean here). Two full-time jobs at the director level in tech are both expecting you to be generally available and on 9ish to 5ish M-F.

    3. Esmeralda*

      When I was in grad school, I had a fellowship that said I could not work as the fellowship was providing enough money for me to give all my attention to my degree.

      In the humanities, so while it was a nice fellowship, it was not enough to cover car insurance, airfare to visit my family once a year, pizza, or clothing.

      So yes, I worked about 25 hours a week. (I worked 35 hrs/week as an undergrad, so it felt like freedom!!)

      1. houseplant champion*

        That’s what mine said too and yet they paid me, post tax, $817 a month. Student fees ran 2k. My rent was $400. So, yeah, I worked!

        Meanwhile I saw assistantships for science graduate students paying 4k monthly. Make it make sense.

        1. Brooklyn*

          We’ve abandoned education funding at universities in favor of research funding, so the only departments with money are the ones getting research grants. This is also why the quality of teaching is so poor – you’re hired for the papers you write, not the students you teach.

          I get it. I went to grad school for mathematics, on a grant, making the union-required 57% of living wage in my city. There was a base pay for all grad students. In our department you made that money by teaching, and if you had a sponsor, you could avoid teaching that semester. The CS students I took some classes with got that base pay just for being students, and on top of that either got paid from a grant or teaching. It didn’t help that our department never advocated for us, so we were a “service” department, which meant that we were expected to teach 2 years of math to every science student, but not get any money from them for it.

  3. WindmillArms*

    I’ve never done this, but I was in a job for years where I had between five and ten hours of work to do a week. The other 30-35 hours, I was just killing time. I strongly considered getting a remote job I could do during my downtime to stave off the boredom.

    This was several years ago, so remote jobs weren’t common in my field yet, and the job I did have was in-person. If it had gone remote, and in this climate of remote options? I’d give two-jobs-at-once a try. It’s unethical, but so is capitalism.

  4. Purple Cat*

    I’m not sure I have more words than that.
    There are several things that really frustrate me about this scenario:
    – companies that are throwing $200k at an employee and that person doesn’t need to work full-time to meet objectives
    – people who are struggling in lower-income positions are the ones that would need the flexibility to work 2 jobs, but they’re micro-managed and worked to the bone and aren’t given that flexibility
    – the greed of this writer in thinking it’s ethical to “get by” for $400k/yr

    1. Student Affairs Sally*

      To be fair, the first two points are more on the corporations/capitalism generally, not on OP.

      I also think OP was referring to “getting by” at work (i.e. being good at their job but not EXCELLENT), not “getting by” financially.

      Would it be more ethical if the salaries at these positions were $40K rather than $200K?

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          If someone was working fast food and could barely pay rent and electric, I have far more sympathy. One job making 200K a year and you take on another just because? No. Most people will NEVER earn 200K a year. Big difference between people scraping by and the wealthy.

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            I agree. *Obviously* things are different for people who have to work multiple low-paying jobs to survive.

            Reminds me of that meme (I think it’s a dril tweet?) that goes something like “the wise man shook his head and said ‘well, actually, there’s no difference between good and bad things’”.

          2. Oakenfield*

            How does OP not taking the second job create an income opportunity for lower paid people? It doesn’t. It doesn’t affect them in any way.

            1. Krosan*

              In the sense that, generally, lower-paid people most likely wouldn’t be considered for a job that pays $200k, I suppose you’re right. But in a more direct sense OP is taking two jobs that each could support someone. If they contented themself with just one of those jobs, the other would presumably go to someone else. Maybe someone who currently makes a similar amount, but even then someone would most likely be hired to fill that role.

              There’s no DIRECT harm being done, but ultimately there’s a limited number of positions that pay this well and a far larger number of people who need to get by.

              1. Starbuck*

                The idea that people should accept lower pay so that employers can create more jobs is bullcrap though. It’s the exact same argument people use against increasing the minimum wage.

            2. The Dogman*


              Another person gets OPs job #2.

              That person leaves their job.

              That job is filled by someone.

              That person leaves their job.

              That job too is filled by someone else.

              That someone elses previous job is now open, and is filled by yet another someone…

              This can result in a poor relatively unskilled worker getting access to a job they couldn’t have as a someone else was doing it.

              I hope that helps clear it up! :)

              1. Ingemma*

                I mean… this assumes that there is a stagnant number of jobs, and the OP is taking two of a finite resource. People have been pointing out all up & down these comments that companies often eliminate positions and put that work on someone else’s plate – which could happen at any layer of the situation you’ve laid out.

                And related – senior people doing their jobs well often create growth for companies which can in fact… increase the number of high value jobs. I’m not implying that the OP is likely to do that – because none of us have enough info from these comments. Your assuming things behave in a way that they don’t in real life, and I could just as easily suggest the opposite is true!

                But I just want to point out that not only are jobs not a finite resource, but you’re making a lot of assumptions that are very simplistic and there are some things that either haven’t occurred to you or that you’re ignoring to make your point!

      1. DarnTheMan*

        I think your question goes back to point #2 “people who are struggling in lower-income positions are the ones that would need the flexibility to work 2 jobs, but they’re micro-managed and worked to the bone and aren’t given that flexibility.” My old job paid severely under market rate (I was making about $5 above minimum wage after taxes) but even though core hours were 9-5, it became expected that staff were working 8 or 8:30 to 5:30 for the same wage. Meanwhile our senior leadership was making close to $150k-$200k (after taxes) per year and yet the boss who worked out of the office seemed to spend most of his day reading the paper or playing solitaire.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          It depends on the role. I worked in 2 roles at a company that both paid around $35k. The first was micromanaged heavily to the point where I was questioned *immediately* when I selected the wrong code to restart my computer for updates. The second role did not have status codes to input and I was able to keep my own schedule. I was able to exceed my goals for the position in about half the workday and slowly implemented other tasks into my day. (I also exceeded my goals in my first position, but would have been caught if I was off task.)

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah I think so. Less responsibility, less potential for issues “rolling downhill”. Less investment from the company. If you’re underpaid and the company only expect 40k of work from you – hell yeah give them 40k of work. If you’re well compensated to do high level executive work…I mean there’s a reason jobs pay that much and the fact you’re often doing 50-60 hours a week is part of that.

        The biggest thing for me is how a 200k executive doing this could negatively impact the person down the chain who *is* making 40k and only working one job.

      3. This Old House*

        Also, the LW wasn’t saying that they were planning to “get by” in both jobs and pull in $400K. They were saying that in reporting about this, “getting by” seems to be the general strategy but LW plans to not “get by” but excel in both jobs.

        1. OP*

          Yup, i meant get by on the job, not financially. Yes, I realize how amazingly fortunate I am to make this. And also threw in the salary to see how that affected the response. If I was making $30k/year total, doing the same type of work and the same thing… would that change anything?

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            If you were struggling, yes, I have far more empathy for a low level street thief stealing food to live than a highly paid CEO, stealing to feather his nest.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Right. It’s not sticking it to the man once you get to the level where you are the man. (woman)

          2. sacados*

            For me, the way the salary info changes things is to make me think — why?!? If it were a question of 30K vs working two jobs and getting 60K, that would have a huge impact on quality of life. Whereas $200K feels like plenty of money already that an extra $200K just wouldn’t be … worth it?
            You say you live in a different state from Silicon Valley, so I assume you don’t live in the Bay Area — I’ve heard the horror stories about COL around there so I could maybe see how you’d feel like you “needed” $400K to live the way you wanted to, haha.
            But I know that other areas (Portland, Seattle) are also getting super expensive; and I realize that people have different expenses, obligations, etc to the point where maybe $400k vs 200K does make a significant impact. Or hell, maybe you just are trying to save up as much as possible for retirement, which is also totally valid.
            As someone who makes $130K in LA, I already feel like I have way more money that I need or know what to do with. So if I imagine a scenario where someone says “You can make 200K, or work two jobs and make 400K,” I’d mostly just think *why on earth would I put myself through THAT?* and happily take the 200K.
            (Granted, I’m single/no kids and something like buying a home in Socal is not even in the cards at this point. So taken that way, I suppose I could see how squirrelling away a solid $250K/year for a couple of years would have an appeal.)

            Anyway, just sharing my opinion about the way the salary amount might change how I’d think about this question.

            1. David*

              I do live in Silicon Valley and while it’s true the cost of living is absurdly high compared to most other places, it’s not so high that a person with a $200k income would necessarily struggle to survive – at least, not a single person, though if I had to speculate, I’d guess that $200k could support a family as well. Personally, my own expenses probably add up to something like $45-50k per year, and there are definitely a lot of areas where I could cut back spending if I needed to – living in a less expensive apartment, buying cheaper groceries, scaling back charitable donations, etc. So I share your feeling of $200k seeming like plenty of money. Maybe some people are in a situation in which that amount of income is just enough to get by, but if so, that situation is disconnected enough from my experience that I can’t think of it.

            2. Sweet Christmas*

              Yeah, I make about $200K in the PNW and this doesn’t seem worth it to me either. I mean, yes the extra $200K even for just one year could have a huge impact, even be moderately life-changing. (Housing is expensive here!). But the prospect of working two director-level positions makes it totally not worth it IMO. I’m not judging anyone who doesn’t mind doing the bare minimum, but I personally would have a lot of anxiety about not being able to work up to my best.

              But yeah, if I was making $30K? I’d totally try this. I did try this when I was making $30K.

          3. Oakenfield*

            Yes, people wouldn’t be so jealous of you. OP, you do you. As long as you’re working to a good standard, I see absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re doing. But I’ve been a wage slave most of my own life and unlike others, don’t condone the system by keeping other people down. You go OP! Make that money and don’t look back.

          4. The Dogman*

            Yes, because then you would need the extra cash.

            As it is you don’t.

            And that is I think why you will get little sympathy here.

            In one sense fair enough you do it if you can get away with it, but in a more ethics focused sense it is pretty immoral, since you are effectively taking another workers job (which knocks on down the jobs chain to end up denying a poor person a job in an amorphous sense) and you can’t do an excellent job at both jobs even if you truely intend to do that.

            I would ask why you want to do this?

            You are getting $200k for effectively 20 hours unsupervised work per week… I would just do a lot more walking and hobbies with the spare cash and just work one job. Why work both anyway?

          5. hbc*

            Of course! Frankly, it’s because the people at the top are working 25 hours a week for their six figure salaries that the people working 40+ hours for a quarter of the money need to squeeze whatever they can get out of it.

            Plus, just from a practical perspective, people making $30K usually have more clear metrics for the difference between excelling, meeting expectations, and failing. When you’re being paid for something more nebulous, you’re essentially being relied on for a lot of your thoughts being dedicated to the job.

      4. Purely Allegorical*

        I do think in some way OP’s job being 200K and not 40K makes it unethical. If she’s in a strategic role, they’re paying her the big bucks to be putting more time into the planning, the thinking, the financial outreach, and to managing/coaching those underneath her. I know she said she has no direct reports, but she has dotted line reports and presumably has a lot of other people who need to interface with her.

        I just do not think it is possible for her to do right by the people she’s supposed to be supporting if half of her time is elsewhere. They are paying her to be completely focused on higher-level goals that affect the company as a whole.

        Not that 40K roles don’t involve strategy, but when you get to Director-level and Big Planning, you need to be totally focused. (And I would say the same thing if it were a 40K role that did involve this level of planning.)

        1. TechWorker*


          Is it possible to do enough that people don’t realise you’re not pulling your weight? Maybe. But if you hire someone for $200k you expect them to both manage their own time and also contribute at a high level. Just because you can get away with it doesn’t make it ok.

          1. Tau*

            And, like…

            This is the sort of level where it can become very hard for your direct boss (CEO?) to judge whether the output they’re getting is reasonable because they’re unfamiliar with exactly what you do and how long it should take. So they hire not just for someone competent, but for someone where their CV/references/interview indicates the integrity to give their best even without direct oversight, and assume that (beyond a certain level) whatever they produce is fine for the position.

            So what would happen in OP’s situation isn’t that the work falls on angry coworkers. It’s that in exec meetings, someone thinks “I was hoping we’d have gotten more of X done by now… but I guess that wasn’t a reasonable expectation, OP will have been doing all they can. It looks like we’ll have to delay Y project to next quarter.” Or similar. And if it ever comes out, OP’s reputation will be trashed beyond repair because it’s clear that they cannot be trusted to work in this sort of setup.

            (To some extent this can be true for software development in general. I’ve had some major dips in productivity due to WFH, which is a poor setup for me. As far as I can tell, nobody noticed. Because I’m trusted, so if I don’t get much done in a week my boss assumes “OK, this task must have been more complicated than expected”. And a lot of what we’re assessed on is less the direct coding output and more things like – how active are you in architectural discussions, what sort of solutions do you present, do you spearhead proposals and actively push them forward, etc., which if you’re a competent person who’s just not working all the hours they should be still all look fine. It would be… frighteningly easy to abuse this. I’m not planning to, because I have integrity.)

            1. Suzie safety*

              This really important when youre in a high level position everyones expectations change based on your behavior

            2. Alli*

              I had a manager once who was senior level and probably worked, if I could estimate it, 15-20 hours per week. This was mostly in-person work with 1-2 telework days per week, we had no infrastructure for online meetings if someone was offsite besides conference calls where everyone would be in a meeting and one person would be on a phone that you couldn’t really hear. From what I could tell, she was doing a combo of reading a book/childcare the other days of the week. Our work required us to have lots of cross-departmental team meetings, and because we had to schedule them around the days this person would be available, and that availability would often change, work got delayed. People had to pick up the slack who were making less than what she made (way, way, less). If you asked her, she was doing adequate and meeting all her deadlines- and the team was meeting all our deadlines, but she was at such a senior level none of us could tell her that we were meeting them in spite of her not because of her! If there’s no way your lack of working hours is impacting other people, then that’s fine. But I’m sure somewhere down the line it is.

        2. Loredena Frisealach*

          and yet some of the most underworked, bored because they don’t have enough to do to fill a 40 hour week people I know are Director level. The OP is in Tech, which is broad – I could easily see a role that’s at this level/salary but whose actual work is spike. Really intense for 2 hours a day, and nothing for the rest of it. But not at the VP/C-suite level that is truly where the strategic work happens.

    2. Spearmint*

      You seem to be judging the LW for society inequalities they don’t control? I get being offput by the reality of inequality but it’s not LW’s fault.

      And on the point about $200k. Well, I think sometimes people can deliver that much value in less than 40 hours a week. People are paid for the value of their work (or, at least, perceived value), not how much they work. There’s nothing magical about 40 hours a week.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        And when you get to director level roles, there is more of an emphasis on management and “ideas” rather than producing TPS reports. You are paid to make sure your team/division is performing well. If the OP has years of experience, they can probably spot problems immediately and correct them perfectly the first time. They could have so much skill that they accomplish 2x as much as the average director.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Yes, the pay rate is set for the knowledge & years of experience, not for the amount of time they actually are sitting in front of a computer.

          (The ethical dilemma of why only some jobs are highly paid because of their knowledge & years of experience still exists.)

      2. Despachito*

        Yes, exactly this!

        If OP were a freelancer, this would be a natural thing and nobody would question it.

        As a freelancer, I get X amount of work, with a deadline on Friday. If I am able to have it ready by Wednesday, I can choose either to twiddle my thumbs or to take another work on Thursday, and nobody will bat an eyelid. As long as I deliver spotless work, nobody cares. And I am getting quicker with experience, with maintaining the same quality.

        1. Nanani*

          I tried to describe the exact same thing in another reply.
          I’m interested in why, exactly, it’s so bad.

          IF OP is correct that no one cares about their specific hours, and they really can deliver quality work for both jobs, and there isn’t anything in their employment contract stating otherwise, which are all things they said and we are supposed to take OPs at their word, then what exactly is the problem?

          “It violates the norm” isn’t strong enough to convince me.
          They’re not scamming. They’re not stealing. It doesn’t sound like they lied to either job.

          And yet I’m not 100% convinced it really is okay, but its hard to say why.

          1. SimplytheBest*

            It’s bad for the same reason cheating is bad but polyamory isn’t. It’s about who’s in the know.

            1. Tea and Cake*

              The polyamory analogy isn’t convincing for me. The LW’s obligations between an employment situation and personal relationships are too different in my mind.

              For example, I need not disclose my “off the clock” activity to my employer. They need not disclose to me all strategy/company endeavors. There’s much in the employment relationship that is based on need to know status and who my work is benefitting and how. Maybe I’m overly cynical but employment is usually in service to a bottom line from which I gain monetary compensation for my efforts. I need not be included in all of the information about the performance of the other employees/entire office in order to be effective. Personal relationships are…not established in the same way.

          2. Tea and Cake*

            I’m in the same boat with you. There appears to be no company policy (at either company) to disclose other employment, no exclusivity required by either company, I don’t care about the salary number because it’s not impactful in the ethics question in my mind, but it feels a little weird and I cannot put my finger on why.

            I’m probably about 95% totally on board, seems ethically fine, but I can’t shake the 5% “huh. Seems weird.” part.

          3. Sweet Christmas*

            First of all, I’m skeptical that the job really doesn’t care about the hours. I work in a similar tech job making a similar salary, and my job also theoretically “doesn’t care” how many hours I’m working as long as I “get my work done.” But at that level, what “get your work done” means is more expansive and nebulous than an entry-level role. If I did only exactly what my manager told me to do, I would be considered to be underperforming – because a director-level role is about using your knowledge and expertise to lead/direct your org whether your a people manager or not. It’s in the title: director.

            But it’s also because in reality of course the hours work. For example, if I only worked 4 pm to 12 am, my job would be unhappy. Sure, I’m still putting in 8 hours a day – but part of my job is to be available to others during core business hours. I find it hard to believe that there is a director-level tech job (especially in finance) that doesn’t care about this. Or if I was consistently only working 2-3 hours a week, I feel like my manager would notice – not because I wouldn’t be getting the bare minimum done satisfactorily but because I don’t get paid $200K a year with a director level title to just push out widgets.

      3. Butterfly Counter*

        I think where I come down is that the OP is now in a position where she CAN possibly start to make needed changes for those inequalities (that she herself has experienced) in her field. I know, by going through the struggle to finally get where you are able to “get yours,” how tempting it can be just to reap the benefits you fought to achieve. But so many are still struggling and may never get to that level. Maybe now is the time to use the extra hours in the week to figure out how to use the power and influence she has to make downstream changes to benefit others.

    3. Empress Matilda*

      This is interesting. My first thought was as long as it’s between the individual and each of their employers, it’s more of a logistical challenge than an ethical one. Whether or not it’s sustainable in the long term is another question. But as long as the individual is meeting their expectations in both workplaces, I don’t think it’s inherently unethical from that standpoint.

      But you’re right – there’s a lot more at stake here than just the individual and their employers. From an equity perspective, it does matter that they’re potentially taking a job from another person. And this:

      people who are struggling in lower-income positions are the ones that would need the flexibility to work 2 jobs, but they’re micro-managed and worked to the bone and aren’t given that flexibility

      – this is a societal problem more than an individual one, and it’s not necessarily up to any given individual to solve it. But what is each person’s obligation to at least not perpetuate it?

      I guess from a purely capitalistic perspective, where we’re all in it for ourselves – eh, you do you. But if we want a more equitable society in general, each individual’s actions do matter, and it becomes a lot more problematic in that light.

      1. Spearmint*

        But how does it perpetuate they systemic issues? If the LW took only one job instead of two, that would do absolutely nothing to benefit marginalized people who have to work multiple jobs with micro-managing bosses.

      2. Eden*

        I don’t understand this thinking at all. How does “individual’s actions do matter” lead to calling this “problematic” because others can’t do it? Is it unethical to go to the doctor even though others don’t have paid sick time or health insurance? Suffering isn’t noble and doesn’t help people with less privilege.

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Replying to both Spearmint and Eden – I don’t know! I wrestle with that a lot, actually – as a privileged person in an inequitable society, what are my responsibilities to less privileged people? Advocacy and financial help, certainly. But if I take advantage of the system to my own benefit – am I contributing to the inequity? I think yes – it’s not a neutral action. But at the same time, if I genuinely need whatever benefits are being offered, there’s no moral value in turning them down just because others don’t have equal access.

          1. Eden*

            Thank you for explaining where you are coming from. I don’t agree with your thinking but I see what you are saying.

        2. Annie*

          Well, I would point out that these aren’t imaginary “others,” out in some system that the OP doesn’t have an influence on. There are others who are very likely directly impacted: “I don’t have any direct reports, but have awesome teammates who dotted-line report to me and who I can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities.”

          The argument isn’t that it’s unfair because others “can’t” do it – the argument is that it’s unfair because the reason those others could never do it is that they are producing elements of the work that go into the OP’s ability to say their job is done at the end of the day.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      I can’t say I’m very impressed either.

      However, I’m not sure they don’t need to work full time to meet objectives. They’ve been there for a month! That’s barely enough time to get used to things. Of course you could meet objectives in the first month… the expectation will be that you’re still settling in.

      I really, really doubt that they will be able to meet future objectives, especially in context with each job having a 25% travel requirement.

    5. Dino Star*

      I agree. I can give leeway to someone who actually needs two low paying jobs at the same time to keep a roof over their head. Taking on two six-figure jobs is way different, just sounds greedy. Do some unpaid volunteer remote work if you’re so bored at your director level job.

    6. Roscoe*

      Most what you are upset about isn’t on the writer, its on the companies and capitalism in general. As far as “greed” i mean, we don’t know where they live, what their family circumstances are, etc. 400k isn’t “low” anywhere, but in some places its definitely a lot more than other places. So if she lives in San Franscisco, has a few children (maybe one in college), and is the primary earner, its not that absurd to think its “getting by”

    7. Aquawoman*

      I don’t agree with your first point per se. There are people who are indecisive, overthinkers, or micromanagers who might “need” 40 hours to do the same job that someone else can do in 25. Why should they be paid more for that? The entity is looking for outcomes. If the work is getting done and it benefits the company X amount and it takes skills, compensation is mainly about the skills and the outcome, not the amount of time put in.

    8. kittymommy*

      I didn’t think about this initially, but while in theory the salary shouldn’t affect my opinion (FTR I think it’s unethical) it does seem more icky because of the higher wage.

    9. Avril Ludgateau*

      I’m bothered because I feel like this one scenario is literally the manufactured fear that so many old-school mentalities rely on in their crusade against WFH/remote work. They expect that their employees are dishonest and unethical, and that they’re doing things exactly like the OP.

      This kind of “controversy'” could, seen by the wrong superiors, result in the rescission of remote work in a company.

      1. Avril Ludgateau*

        Tangentially: I think the 40 hour workweek is (frankly, always has been) outdated, and the bar for “full time” should be lowered (of course, how do we accomplish this without further depressing wages?)

        In a context where 25 hours a week is the standard/expectation, I would not be so dismayed.

      2. Yessica Haircut*

        Thank you for making this point. I completely agree. If this ever comes out (and I have to imagine that’s inevitable), the OP is not just risking her own reputation, but the employee-friendly WFH policies at BOTH companies.

    10. Anonymous in PDX*

      Initially i was right there with you. I come from primarily NGO/local government jobs. $200K each? Spread the wealth a little for someone who may need a $200K job…. BUT my spouse works in cybersecurity and makes about the same as OP and most of his days is filled with naps and computer games…..learning from him its all about his value and the knowledge and skills he can bring to the company and industry….next time there is a global cyber threat– he’s working long hours and saving the world per say.

    11. Eman*

      Yeah. Similar shocked feeling when I saw it’s two $200k a year jobs, that’s a huge amount of money and it doesn’t seem like either org is getting the full attention they ought to for that much money

      I’m sure of this comes from jealousy at earning half of what one of those jobs pays, with no ability to shirk the current job to work another one. (Not that the OP is necessarily shirking but it feels wrong to this 40 something year old)

  5. Ali G*

    While I don’t inherently disagree with Alison, this definitely gave me pause: “they are Director level positions bringing in $200k each.”
    That is really a signal that these positions are intended to have the full attention of a very experienced person in an important role to the company. $200k is a lot of money! You are being well-compensated because these are important positions that require your full attention.
    If you were say, doing software development at the tune of ~75k per year for each, my opinion would be way different. I think this borders a little more into unethical territory due to the high level of these positions.

    1. honey cowl*

      Not your point, but if you are making 75k for software development, you are deeply, deeply underpaid and should get a new job!! Just one new job would double your earnings, much less 2 new jobs.

      1. elena*

        Hm, starting salaries for new graduates posted by the tech bootcamps around here are all in the $60k range. It’s a lower CoL city, sure, but that’s true even for various national programs. Does it increase so quickly?

        1. Spearmint*

          Entry level software development jobs in my city seem to go for $70k-$80. I’ve heard of people in Silicon Valley itself making six figures right out of college, but not in other parts of the country.

          (Not a developer myself, but I have many friends in the industry)

          1. Elenna*

            My sister works for a Silicon Valley tech company and yes, she was offered six figures right out of university. (And then COVID hit and she had to stay in Canada and they redid her contract based on Canadian salary bands, so it wasn’t six figures anymore, but still pretty close.)

          2. Ingrid*

            I just started an entry-level tech job this year, in a medium CoL area, and I was offered $100k base + $25k per year in stock. It’s a large company, but that’s about what I was expecting. My husband is in software engineering with 7 years experience and he makes $170k + ~$200k in stock.

            1. Just an autistic redhead*

              Huh. Now I kinda want to request one of those salary survey threads from Alison ^_^

          3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            My brother got a job at a certain Seattle-based company right out of college as a junior developer and is paid in the 6 figures, plus a 5 figure signing bonus. He makes more than I do and I’m 15 years older than he is and have a PhD!

            1. Cat named Brian*

              Son is the same. 6 figures +5 figure signing. Stock options and opportunity to increase pay by year end, right out of undergrad. 22 years old. In Seattle. Wonder if they are working for the same company.

        2. dresscode*

          My husband graduated from a code bootcamp in Nov. 2017. He started as an apprentice making 50k right out the gate with no experience. Spent two years at that job, ended up with 65k when he left. Left from another company making 95K. Left that job in June, now making 150k as a lead. AND we live in a medium sized city that has a low COL. So… yeah.

          I could write pages about the whiplash I’ve felt with our relatively sudden increase in income. It’s been a blessing. Anyway- tech is where it’s at.

        3. honey cowl*

          Entry level salary at a medium+ company should be over 100. I make 135 base + 40-60 a year in stock in a mountain west city, 6 years of experience but 10 years out of college (unrelated degree, this was a career switch).

        4. TheseOldWings*

          My husband graduated from a bootcamp in 2018 and started at $60k. He now makes about $85k at the same company. I keep trying to persuade him to get a new job because I do think he’s underpaid.

          1. dresscode*

            He’s definitely underpaid. If he opened the LinkedIn floodgates by saying recruiters can contact him, he would likely be FLOODED with calls. It’s a feeding frenzy, to the great benefit of tech workers.

    2. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Yeah I agree with this take. In general I think companies should move more towards a model of focusing on goals and objectives with less attention to hours worked – rather than our current model of paying for 40 hr/week where the idea is that they kind of own all of your available working time. However, in this case it sounds like having that full attention could be important to both jobs because they are senior level and paying so much.

    3. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I think that’s where I’m leaning too – I make about $55k doing data support/analysis/governance (yes, I’m underpaid). But for that money, when things go wrong, I kick it up the chain to people who are billing double or triple of me, and expect that they are there to do the off-hours, the complicated questions, and the soothing-of-upset-clients.

      If my $200k/yr boss was unavailable to do things like that because they were busy at their second $200k job, and I found out? My morale would tank, and I have a feeling a lot of other folks’ would too.

      1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        I agree. If I found out someone who was a director at my company was working another full time second director job, that would be a huge hit to morale. I’d wonder why they were doing it, was something wrong with our company that they were privy to and I wasn’t, etc.

        I can’t quite put into words why I think this is a bad idea but I’d be okay with it if they were and individual contributor.

      2. SaaSsy*

        That’s where I land… I wouldn’t have minded picking up another analyst position a few years ago and juggling those, but where I’m starting to be more senior and in leadership I can’t imagine kicking inevitable issues down to one of my directs or peers. It’s just wildly unfair to let the slack fall there and morale is going to be a problem.

        (Also I enjoy your handle, Code Monkey – and yeah, wildly underpaid!)

    4. Jax*

      I had a different reaction–the title and salary immediately made me think, “Administrative Bloat.”

      Coupled with the fact that the OP can do both Director jobs at around 50 hours per week, and I’m firmly in Camp Bloat. Clearly, this is not an important position *to getting work done* but a position that someone climbs to and then kicks back to enjoy their past successes.

      I, myself, am not outraged by this. I’ve felt very “Eat the Rich” the past 6 months, and like Alison, I’m surprised to find myself here. I read this and chuckle grimly.

      1. Spearmint*

        Well, there’s another explanation, which is that because LW’s roles are high level and strategic, the results of their work may only become apparent over the long term. Many of these roles involve initiating and leading projects that take months or years to complete.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I think administrative bloat is one possibility here. The other is that OP is only a month in and can’t actually do both of these jobs in 50 hours a week, at least not well and not without shirking work that ends up with colleagues.

    5. middlemgmt*

      Agree, i feel like that changes the math. It would also depend, to me, whether the company had explicit “core hours” and if you’re supposed to be available for your colleagues during those hours, versus being able to get your work done on any schedule. if I wasn’t getting responses from a co-worker or they were all delayed, and found out it was because they were working else where and my question/need was “less urgent” than the other job, I’d be pretty annoyed. that’s impacting my own job now. Even if, on a cosmic scale, the other job’s task was more truly urgent, that’s not your call to make, in this circumstance. That’s supposed to be the real difference between freelancer/contractor and employee. You’re treating these jobs like a freelance/contract position where you have the option to prioritize those job, but the company believes your acting like an employee where their work should always come first, and you’re not.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I went in the opposite direction. The best directors have loads of experience and they know how to spot and handle problems. The’ve experienced it all before. $200k doesn’t necessarily buy time, it buys a person with the skills and experience to be efficient. The more efficient they are, the less they need to work because they eliminate problems.
      It’s a proportional quandary.

    7. Purely Allegorical*

      I completely 100% agree. I also wonder if OP is perhaps not doing as well as she thinks she is — I wonder what her colleagues would say about her attention and focus in a couple months. Something for her to keep an eye/ear on.

      1. OP*

        Agree with you! I like to think I’m self-aware but am not more so than the next person…so I’ve been actively seeking feedback.

    8. AC4Life*

      More importantly, every time I’ve stepped into this kind of role I’ve started slow and then ramped up quickly as I became a trusted SME. High performance when tenure is counted in weeks won’t be high anymore at the one year mark.

    9. Beth*

      This gave me pause as well. Not least because the OP acknowledges that they’re taking a job that could be going to another person, and simply waves that away with “but in this job market…”

      In any job market, there are a super limited number of high level roles that pay that much! Even if we assume that OP is somehow able to meet every requirement for both jobs to a high level, this still feels selfish and unethical to me on that point alone. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who are qualified for and interested in these roles but haven’t gotten one, and here OP is putting in half time with two of them. Even if that’s enough to meet expectations, it’s not a good look.

      And imagine if this comes out. We’re used to directors being relatively highly compensated compared to the average worker in the same company, of course. But it would be quite a morale hit to realize that not only is your director making a lot more than you, he ALSO has time to double dip with ANOTHER director role for double the income, while you’re working this one full-time job and probably keeping quite busy with it.

      I’d have a lot fewer concerns about a low- or mid-level employee doing this, but framing this as employees sticking it to the man doesn’t really work when the employee in question is a director.

  6. Albeira Dawn*

    I assume your employers aren’t competitors? Are there any overlapping interests that could cause a conflict?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      OP says “The companies are not competitors, suppliers, or customers of each other.”

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        OP says “The companies are not competitors, suppliers, or customers of each other.”

        I know that’s supposed to be “better”, but it feels even worse to me. Hypothetically, if I took another job in my industry, I’d at least know the lay of the land, governing laws, precedent, etc. But if I kept my current job and got another in a completely different industry, I can see it being hard to keep a firewall between the two environments in my head (and by extension in my work). I’d be even less useful to each employer.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Eh, it’s Silicon Valley. It’s entirely possible to be qualified for strategic roles in two different 50-person software companies where the software product is aimed at two entirely different purposes and markets. Like one company does bill pay software for physician’s offices and the other does lunch account management for school districts or nonprofit website fundraising integration or something.

      2. Albeira Dawn*

        Oh true, I missed that. There could still be high level issues, especially concerning strategy, that might pit one company against another.

  7. Person from the Resume*

    LW is averaging 50 hrs a week so putting in about 25 hours a week in each if he’s evenly splitting his time. And getting paid $200K for each job.

    I think each company expects to get at least 40 hours of work out of him so they would feel they’re being deceived by LW.

    It is hard, though, because with workers like this could just be that
    – “LW does stellar work but he does it slowly.
    – “He’s not a quick on the turnaround as the last guy.”
    – “We expected him to work faster so he could help on X, but he never has the time for X or doing extra.”

    That is something LW could get feedback on, but it could just be something they put up with because they think he’s slow or not proactive about picking up other stuff when he’s actually working for another company.

    I do think it’s unethical.

    1. Nevadah*

      At that level the companies more likely expect 50-60 hours of work. That’s about what I put in at the same exact job level.

      1. NYWeasel*

        I came to post that too. All the directors I know either work crazy hours or they are intensely busy during their 40 hour work week.

    2. nona*

      I don’t even think the company needs to expect 40 hours of work/product, but they are definitely paying to reserve (at least) 40hrs of his time every week. And if there is stuff that can’t be time shifted (because each job has core hours), he is essentially selling the same set of hours (or at least a subset) to each company. Or selling the expectation of the same set of hours. And neither of your employers have consented to share that time.

      Especially with upper management positions – what fiduciary type duties or responsibilities are there to put the company’s interest above that of another company’s? That’s more of an issue when there are direct conflicts of interest, but if you are selling your time to two places, you *are* creating a conflict of interest and not giving your full (work day) availability, which was the implied promise when the company hired you and paid you money.

      I don’t think this means the company owns ALL your time, but if you have two jobs that have the same schedule/core hours, you’re selling the same bridge twice. You are selling the same units of capacity, not additional capacity. Just because the first employer isn’t using all the capacity, doesn’t mean you get to sell it to someone else to use without telling the first employer you are doing that. So…I guess if both employers were aware, I’d have less of an issue.

      Mostly, I just don’t think its sustainable. OP is going to burn out – either from too much work, or keeping secrets, or living a double work life. Something is going to slip and something is going to get missed.

      1. Willis*

        You articulated a lot of my thoughts on this. I get that OP’s jobs have metrics other than hours worked, but I agree that employers generally assume (fairly, I would say) that they are purchasing your full capacity when they hire and pay you to to do a full time job. But your last paragraph is really what I agree with. The fact that it’s worked for month at the beginning is not particularly indicative of how it would work long term, especially if you start to throw travel into the mix.

    3. OP*

      Now I REALLY wish I would have stated that I’m a woman in tech… some people have seen the $ and have been assuming male?
      I wonder if this would have unconsciously changed peoples’ responses?

      1. Purely Allegorical*

        Knowing you’re a woman does not change my opinion. I still think it’s unethical, given the duties you describe.

        I’d be curious what your colleagues might have to say about your time and attention in a couple months. If all the comments here today are confusing or contradict each other, your colleagues are the place to pay attention — might be worth asking for a 360 degree review in six months, to see what might be slipping as you try to burn both ends of the candle.

      2. MissElizaTudor*

        Yeah, it’s interesting to see how many people went to he/him pronouns for you on this one. My perception is that it’s more than usual.

        I think people would say it wouldn’t change their stance, but it does interrupt the image that a lot of people seem to have built in their heads of what kind of a person would do this.

        1. OP*

          For sure. Both the amount of money made and my gender, I would assume, shouldn’t matter. But truthfully we come into this with our own experiences and biases which matter a lot, a little, or not at all when analyzing a potential ethical situation. I am so grateful for people taking time on their thoughtful perspectives and interesting points of view. It’s giving me a ton to consider.

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I mean you made it as a high level woman in tech and if you’re found out this reflects badly on women in tech. You are under no 0bligation to consider that, and the reality of it sucks, but I don’t think being a woman works in your favor. I am totally with you on sticking it to the people who stuck it to you. But that’s idealistic.

      4. Lorine*

        OP, one internet stranger to another, this is going to fall apart and it will be ugly and career-ruining when it does. Quit one of these jobs while you’re still ahead.

      5. teapot analytics manager*

        It makes me wonder if I worked for you, at one point.

        Because I, too, had a director who was rarely available (if you’re working 25 hours a week per job, that is rarely available) and left things to me and her other direct reports to handle. We struggled along because we didn’t have someone at that leadership level to coordinate with other departments to ensure that we had the buy-in for our initiatives and authority to request the work we needed for other areas. It was a nightmare.

        That may not matter to you OP, but what might matter is that every single person at the organization knew how bad a job our director was doing. You might be getting by with it now, but the impression you are leaving on everyone’s minds will remain. I’d be concerned about your reputation in the future, director-level positions in tech are part of a surprisingly small pool of people and gossip travels.

      6. KuklaRed*

        Your gender is completely irrelevant here. I am also a company director in tech and I cannot imagine doing this to my employer. It seems like you are seriously slacking on both jobs – I work 60+ hours every week, between meetings and work on various projects. If you find yourself not filling the days I think you are doing it wrong and doing serious disservice to both companies.

      7. nona*

        I defaulted to male, because who that’s who I think of when I think of people who think they are entitled to two full time sr mgmt jobs because “how hard could that be”. And the overconfidence to think that “of course I can do this.”

        Gender does not have anything to do with the ethics or feasability of this. Although…now that I think about it, it feels more gross on a visceral level, because I would hope you would have been more aware than your male colleagues of how hard it is for women to break into upper management, and you are now sitting in *2* of those seats, when the other opportunity could have gone to another women or minority. I realize that’s not a guarantee that another women or minority would have been hired, but you are blocking someone else from gaining/providing their expertise at that level. It’s not like it would be self-sacrificing to not take 2 jobs – it’s just a normal expectation to only take one senior mgmt job at a time.

        1. hbc*

          Ha, that’s exactly why I went male too. My “I get my job done” high level person was a guy who spent most of the extra time at the lake house rather than on a second job, and he was sure he was getting everything done. Everyone knew better when he claimed that he brought work home with him, he would drop “strategies” on the team and just wait for the little people to make them happen, and I was easily able to do his job and mine when he resigned before the jig was entirely up.

          There were no obvious balls dropped because he delegated most things and people eventually stopped waiting for him on the rest.

        2. Yessica Haircut*

          To me, the greatest harm done by OP as a senior leader in tech who’s a woman is not that OP is taking up two spots, one of which could go to someone else. It’s that when this inevitably blows up in her face, her companies will likely say, “well, we TRIED hiring a female director, but she did something hugely unethical, so experiment failed! Time to go back to the same white men we’ve always hired.”

          I don’t believe in respectability politics or people from marginalized communities needing to be some kind of “ambassador” for their demographic–but I think OP has a moral imperative to consider how her very bad judgment here could go on to harm other women in tech. This isn’t the exhausting expectation of “do twice the work of any man to show your worth in the workplace.” It’s “don’t misrepresent yourself and commit a major ethics violation when your male-dominated industry has cracked its door open to you, a woman in tech leadership.”

          OP isn’t shattering the glass ceiling here; she’s carefully piecing shards back together with a hot glue gun. Don’t be an Elizabeth Holmes here, OP.

          1. Yessica Haircut*

            (To clarify my first sentence, I’m not a senior leader in tech myself. That was just meant to refer to OP. I realize the wording is a little confusing. But I am a mid-level manager in a technical field who would love the door to senior leadership to stay open to me!)

      8. Beth*

        You know what, I did assume you were a man, I think because this is an arrogant enough move that I assumed you must be. I’ll take the correction on that front.

        This is still wrong to do at the director level. If you were entry-level, or a mid-level individual contributor, go for it. But at the level you’re at, honestly, I think this is a shitty thing to do.

      9. Tali*

        It is very frustrating to see you use your gender, the economy, what other companies have done elsewhere in the past and other irrelevant factors as justification for your actions.

        If you believe you are behaving ethically, fine. But you don’t get a pass for a free “immoral action card” just because you’re a woman in tech, or because capitalism.

    4. Urbanchic*

      The flag to me is that the OP is declining or rescheduling meetings and travel due to the commitments from the competing jobs. In these roles you are paid in part due to availability. Now, there are a lot of non-work reasons why a person may request a trip or meeting be rescheduled – maybe a family commitment, a vacation, etc. But if this is happening weekly/frequently, I don’t think its ethical for the employee to force each employer to flex to accommodate the other employer. There’s also the issue that one employer may feel as if they are subsidizing the work of the other employer if one job is getting less time or attention than another. OP, am sure you thought of this, just make sure you’re following federal guidelines when it comes to retirement match programs, and each of your employers may have guidance on insurance benefits (some require that you not have the ability to get benefits elsewhere before you can access the plan – not sure how that works if you are getting benefits through another employer as opposed to thru a partner’s plan). You’ll also overpay significantly on social security, yet will owe more federal taxes than job with holds. Am sure you worked through all of this with your accountant.

      1. Vanderlyle CB*

        Yes, this! I think it will be either a tax issue or insurance issue that will disclose the OP’s situation.

    5. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      It’s been my experience that no employer gets 40 hours out of any full time employee. Someone above commented they only work 5-8 hours in their 40 hour week. The full time people I work with do maybe 10 hours of actual work, if that. But yet they draw a full time salary & benefits. It’s unfair and unethical of the employee but also the employer and managers to let that continue to happen.

  8. FrenchCusser*

    There may be ‘no shortage of jobs out there’, but there are definitely a shortage of $200,000/year jobs. Sure, poor people generally have to work 2-3 jobs to survive, but this just strikes me as greedy.

    1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      Generally the people working 2-3 jobs to survive aren’t going to be qualified for the $200k jobs.

      1. Dr. Anon*

        That seems like an unnecessarily unkind take to me. Many people find themselves in a position where they must accept work that underpays them, regardless of qualifications or credentials.

        But if that is your primary view of the situation: OP apparently isn’t qualified for a $400k job, so what do you say to that?

        1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

          I’m not quite following. My point is just that it’s not as though the LW taking these jobs is directly taking them away from someone else who is currently working multiple jobs to survive.

      2. Stevie*

        In an academic exercise sort of way, you could argue that there would be a trickle-down effect (so sorry) here, though, i.e. the addition of a new $200k job could allow someone making slightly less to move up and so on. That being said, I doubt everything would happen so neatly.

      3. Myrin*

        I know you said “generally” but I just want to point out that there are people here on this very board – I’m talking about myself but I’m assuming there might be others as well – who are in exactly that situation.

        I have a master’s (I actually worked on my doctorate for three years but dropped out) and yet because of an unfortunate combination of a cancer diagnosis, the affects covid’s had on my general field, and a general change in career plans largely because of those two things, meaning I now, at age 30, have the not-completely-but-at-least-somewhat wrong experience for what I want to do, I’m muddling through by earning between 600 and 800 euros a month (roughly 695 to 926 dollars, and that’s before taxes) working two manually hard and pretty thankless parttime jobs (which I like, don’t get me wrong; but I would like working somewhere where I can earn more and actually use my years-long training much more).

        I know you aren’t generally wrong and certainly I’m just mentally exhausted right now because I’m in a flurry of applying for jobs in my field I know I would be qualified for where I could at least earn something like 2000€/month but nothing ever seems to work in my favour but I can’t help but feel a little crabby about comments like this.

      4. Wilbur*

        There’s a lot of workers between people that have 2-3 jobs to survive and people who have $200k jobs. There’s not always a lot of room to move up at companies. At my company you can see a whole chain of people get shuffled around into new opportunities because one person got a new job. Sometimes these are promotions, sometimes it’s lateral moves for development. That’s bad for those workers, and bad for the employer.

        Part of whats mentioned is the OP has other, non-direct reports that can handle some of the slack. This could mean OP is handling 80% of 2 jobs and his non-direct reports are overburdened.

        I’d also say to think long term-what does happen if these companies find out and you lose your job? Are you going to be able to get a $200k/year job after the decline to provide a reference?

    2. Dr. Anon*

      Yeah, I can’t get past that “no shortage of jobs out there” comment, as a PhD who has spent the last few years massively underemployed while looking for a stable job that might pay me what many people would think of as basically entry-level salary. Why is one $200k/year position not enough for the OP? When I have worked more than 1 job when teaching, the employers were aware of the other position(s) due to the restraints it put upon my availability. And they knew that the reason I was working additional jobs was that they were not paying a livable wage.

    3. Anne of Green Gables*

      Yeah, I got to that part and thought, “$200,000 director-level jobs are not the ones that are staying open.” I realize that’s not the ethics conundrum, but I also feel like LW is dismissive of this particular element.

      1. OP*

        I hate that I sounded dismissive. I truly realize how fortunate I am to make this amount and that it’s ridiculously more than most. But I still don’t think we should put an arbitrary number out there… i don’t know the exact multiplier but if CEOs can make a significant x% more than everyone else, and still try to make more, why isn’t that enough? Most people strive to increase their pay throughout their careers.

        1. Dara*

          Yeah but CEOs try to increase their salaries by increasing the value of the company – their pay is supposed to reflect that. Not saying it always does, but that’s the idea.

          Most people try to increase their pay by getting promoted (thereby increasing the value they bring to the company), not by working two high-level jobs under the table.

          Unclear how you could be substantially increasing the value of the companies you’re working for in 25 hours a week. Also really unclear to me why one person would need two $200k jobs. Is $200k really not enough?

        2. Avril Ludgateau*

          i don’t know the exact multiplier but if CEOs can make a significant x% more than everyone else, and still try to make more, why isn’t that enough? Most people strive to increase their pay throughout their careers.

          I don’t know if or how you have remained shielded from this discussion, or if you are being disingenuous, but there is a lot – A LOT – of critical discussion about executive pay, the proportion by which it exceeds the wages of labor, and whether this is justifiable, moral, ethical, or even sustainable. Especially on the topic of billionaires… And this isn’t a post-COVID dialectic, either. This has been part of a growing capitalism-critical zeitgeist that emerged post mid-aughts recession.

          And “but other people exploit the system, so why can’t I?” is not, in and of itself, an argument in favor of your ethical choices.

    4. mreasy*

      I’m interested in this because the high salary seems to be the sticking point. If OP was a single parent doing this but each job was $30k and half of their combined salary went to childcare, it would be different and nobody would be calling them greedy. But where do we draw the line? What total salary amount makes this “greedy” or taking a good job off the market?

      1. Purely Allegorical*

        It’s not about the salary, for me. It’s about the particular duties involved here, which tend to come with the higher salary (but not always). OP is being paid to manage Big Strategy — that is a role where I think it’s unethical to only be devoting 25/40 hours. 38% of her time is going to other things. That’s a pretty big number.

        1. Yessica Haircut*

          This! If you work a lower level role, where your manager is assigning you chunks of project work, you have a really clear sense of whether you’re performing up to snuff in that role. It all comes down to: did you check all your boxes for that week? I still wouldn’t approve of someone working two full-time jobs simultaneously in that situation, but at least you’d be more likely to be pulling your weight and fulfilling your job duties. But in a role like this, with much less oversight and a focus on strategy, the assumption is that you are hiring an expert to devote their full attention to new strategies/methods/approaches. It may even be a situation where no one has in the company has the subject matter knowledge to evaluate whether OP is doing a good job, but just trusts that she’s doing her best.

      2. Sick of the Pandemic*

        When you’re making enough money to comfortably provide for your family, and you’re still sneaking around to get more, that’s when it gets greedy. Unless you have 9 kids you don’t need a $200k salary let alone a $400k salary.

    5. MicroManagered*

      Yeah I was surprised Alison didn’t point this out. By holding 2 jobs for $200k each, you are essentially taking that money from another person/family.

  9. Person*

    The part that gets me here is that both jobs OP agreed to work for are full time, which typically means they expect your focus for ~40 hours a week. However, OP is averaging ~50 hours for both, which strikes me as way less than what they agreed to do. Sure, you can make the argument that if you’re getting your assigned work done, but in all jobs that I have, once you’re done with your assigned work, the expectation is that you’d find something else to do or ask for more work to fill the time so you’re not just getting paid to sit around. Obviously there is some exception to this, like no one would expect you to request more work at 4pm on a Friday, but unless this job is one where finding more stuff to work on isn’t the expectation, this strikes me as unethical.

    1. lunchtime caller*

      Especially with a high level, highly paid job, a lot of what you’re being paid for is big picture thinking, not just the day to day fires! So right now things might be running fine, but when it comes time to steer the ship in more creative ways the lack of time for that big picture thinking/planning is going to come back to bite.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Although, if we go back to yesterday’s letter about dream-time problem solving, this might actually be to the OP’s benefit. It’s possible that by switching tasks like this, they’re moving problem solving for job A to the back of their mind while they do the actual work of Job B, and vice versa. And the creativity they’re developing in the background might be applicable to both jobs.

        This is called “slow motion multitasking.” There’s a really interesting TED talk about this (A Powerful Way to Unleash Your Creativity, by Tim Harford.) Also the book “Range” by David Epstein, which is about the benefits of working as a generalist rather than a specialist.

    2. J*

      You’ve stated what I was having trouble with. I have never, ever had a professional job that included 40 hours of “assigned” work. It has always been more like “here are the projects we currently have running,” and then I have looked around and figured out what to do next. Improve processes? Start a new project? Look back and evaluate past projects? Help out my coworkers who are slammed? Hell, even organizing and filing.

      In a position like this, there really shouldn’t be a lot of true down time. It’s not like you’re the receptionist and you’re paid to wait around until someone needs to be buzzed in, or a shift worker who is there to stock shelves until 5:00 sharp, and if there are no pallets to unload you get to sit down.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Your first paragraph describes my life. My job is similar to OP’s in title and pay, and it’s more than full-time and involves a lot of strategic planning, project coordination, crisis management, and just generally making sure things work well and continue to be relevant to our customer base and organization. I also have a half-dozen direct reports and a total of about 50 people in my department. My boss provides direction and feedback but generally expects me to be planning and pitching to her.

    3. Spearmint*

      I disagree. I rarely work anywhere close to 40 hours a week, and many of my friends who have office jobs say they don’t either. In fact, studies show people usually only work 4 hours per day in an average full-time job. The idea we need to be laser focused for 40 hours a week all day every day is anachronistic at best.

      1. Person*

        I did say focused, but not laser focused. What I mean here isn’t that you should spend exactly 40 hours a week working/thinking about the job. Obviously people take breaks, spend time talking with coworkers, etc (and if they don’t, they should probably rethink either the way they do their job, or if they should find another one where that’s possible)

        But if say for example, you have 1 full time job, for which with all your breaks and other things, you’re only getting like 4 hours of actual work done per day. Assuming you work 5 days a week, this is 20 hours a week.

        OP works 50 hours a week. If we split this in half and assume 25 hours a week per job, how much of this time do you think is actually spent doing work? because I doubt it’s the full 25 hours. Even with two full time jobs, you’re still going to be taking breaks and doing other things, just like you are right now, and the amount of time you spend actually working on each job is going to be less than the amount you’d spend if you only had one job.

        1. OP*

          Actually I did mean 50 hours of actual work, not including breaks etc. I’m being ticky tack maybe, but wanted to clarify anyway.

          1. UShoe*

            So how many hours do you spend “at work”? (I understand you’re remote) I think that’s kind of important.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Well, in my job, we are online for 40+ hours. Much of that time is in meeting and we often joke/complain that we can’t get any work done because we’re in meetings. So, are those studies and anecdotes reflecting time spent “on/engaged in some work activity (i.e., including meetings)” or are they estimates of time spent “producing = working”?

        Because I work 40+ hours at a much lower level than director and I know everyone above me works more than that, because they both have to engage substantively in meetings and produce. It sounds like OP is pushing the latter onto lower level employees, which is Not Cool.

    4. Roscoe*

      I think that is an outdated expectation honestly of “let me ask for more work”. Because if I can finish my work in less time than someone else getting paid the same time as me, I’m not going to ask for more work to get the same as someone else. That is one of those weird things that management has convinced you is “right” when its really them just sqeezing more output out of you without compensating you for it.

      1. Cordelia*

        but at director level, it’s presumably not just about “asking for more work”, its about taking the initiative to find out what else needs doing, how things could be improved, bigger picture stuff – not about the allocation of more tasks. That’s what the 200k is for. So I agree with the commenters who say the fact that this is a senior position is significant, and makes this not ok

    5. Admin 4 life*

      I have a full time admin job supporting high up leadership in a globally known business. When I’m not covering for anyone else, I get ten solid hours of work a week, five hours of generic questions and have 20 hours where I’m jiggling my mouse and refreshing my inbox.

      I also do side gigs on work time because there is nothing to do. I do data analysis and create presentations for small businesses on a contract basis. I’m never in front of a computer for more than 42 hours a week. I make $85k a year in my full time job and $2,500 a month(pre tax) on my side gigs. I’ve also continued doing my side gig when I’ve been covering two other full time positions for more than 6 months. They have no qualms about not giving me the salaries for those two jobs even though they benefited from setting ridiculous expectations. I have no reservations about continuing to look after my bottom line either.

    6. Evonon*

      That’s what I was thinking too. I can do my job in less than 40 hours but I use those extra hours to maintain and improve my systems or take up an extra project. If the argument is “well I’m not getting paid for extra work at Job A so I might as well take on Job B for extra cash”, then maybe the job just isn’t challenging enough? In which case, why take it at all, let alone two jobs you can do in your sleep? Like get your bag and all that but for me that just seems like overcomplicating things

      1. Pennilyn Lot*

        I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not? I don’t think it’s implausible someone would do this, I think it’s less likely that they’d jot all the incriminating details down in a letter, send it out to a public blog, and risk the $400k/year scam they’re running

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But does it matter? Alison posted it for the purpose of generating a discussion about the ethics. It’s likely hypothetical to 99% of her readers anyway, so whether or not there is one specific person in this specific situation is kind of beside the point.

        2. The Tin Man*

          It’s been brought up many times before, but Alison has mentioned that she answers letters that, even if they may be fake, her answer (and the subsequent discussion) would/could be a benefit to people in similar positions.

          It doesn’t matter if this letter, specifically, is a true situation. What matters is that this is a thing that has been increasingly brought up because of the increase in remote work and it is an interesting discussion to have.

          Aside from all that…beware Emily Gilmore!

          1. Emma*

            I know someone who does this too. And I wish them the best of luck. It is high risk but they have chosen to work a lot during a year to be able to buy a house. As long as both jobs are happy, this isn’t different than having a side hustle, or develop your own company on the side.
            If OP has the capacity to work at this place, congratulations.

          2. Pennilyn Lot*

            Cool – I think it was a monumentally bad idea to write up a bunch of identifying information about something you’re doing that is potentially breaking the terms of both your contracts and send it out for publication on a blog you can’t control. If this is real, I highly suggest you stop telling people about it

      2. Dr. Anon*

        My cynical take is that, yes, there are certainly people doing this exact thing (at least, accepting 2 full-time remote roles on the sly), but that the media is emphasizing the “trend” for the benefit of corporate interests and at the expense of workers who benefit from more flexible jobs.

    1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      I don’t know about this specific letter but I do personally know someone in this exact situation (although making less than $200k). So what’s being described is definitely happening in real life.

    2. Avril Ludgateau*

      I thought the same. It seems like it would be written by somebody who is against remote work because they believe workers are inherently untrustworthy, so they concocted the exact nightmare scenario so many micromanagers use to justify their stance.

      Now those same skeptical micromanagers are going to use this unverifiable anecdote as “proof” they were right all along.

      The OP wrote above in a nested offshoot that “CEOs command egregious compensation, so why can’t I?” which also lends to my suspicion of baiting.

      1. OP*

        Didn’t mean to bait… well aware of the critiques on executive comp. Not saying that execs are paid fairly, that I’m paid fairly, hell that ANYONE is paid fairly. My point is that, what $ is TOO MUCH to earn that doing this becomes unfair/unethical?

      2. Tea and Cake*

        If the egregious compensation was from a single employer, would this many people be so up in arms at the salary? There are people in the world pulling a 400k salary for a single job.

        It’s not about the money. Or, I guess, it shouldn’t be.

  10. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I had a peer do this for ~2 years. He worked 12 hour days 6 days a week, focusing on the other job’s responsibilities by day another ours overnight. He fooled exactly no one; it was an open secret after ~2 weeks. He had a guardian angel in the C-suite; we suspect that’s why he felt emboldened to try.

    In the end, it wasn’t the double-dipping that got him, it was his quality score. It was never particularly high, and those in the trenches knew the issues with his work, but it was always hand-waved away with “but his attendance is perfect, he’s always available, etc.” Once that ceased to be the dominant impression of him, things went downhill *fast*.

    I think a peer who composes more reliable code that’s not as maintenance-needy might be able to get away with it indefinitely.

    So my reaction is Kudos as long as you can make it work well, and save one of those two salaries in case you can’t or cease to be able to.

    1. Murphy*

      That also just sounds like a terrible experience. I wouldn’t want to work that much for any amount of money.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        That also just sounds like a terrible experience. I wouldn’t want to work that much for any amount of money.

        His morale steadily improved until his debts were down to just the new mortgage, but the second year he didn’t act miserable as much as just permanently mentally exhausted (and it showed in the code). Our positions were mostly parallel, and the modus operandi he ended up developing was in most ways opposite of mine, so we drifted farther apart and I interacted with him less and less (other than auditing his code, which I usually joked about needing a Beefeater assistant to get through) as things progressed.

    2. jm*

      good advice. i sure hope lw is taking advantage of these incomes to save for a rainy day. it could be difficult finding another job at this level once they’re found out.

    3. Honor Harrington*

      I have a friend in a director role who took on a low-level part time job. Then a second one. Then a third. He can use the same work output for most of those jobs (remote teaching). Last I heard, he had his full time job and was remote teaching 8-9 classes. He simply wouldn’t turn down the money. Unfortunately to do this much, he has to do the grading and planning during main-job. The quality of his main work is now so bad that he hasn’t been able to find a new main-job at his main company. He has no idea why, and doesn’t understand how bad his reputation has become.

      While OP doesn’t seem to have this risk, OP should be careful to monitor work quality to ensure he doesn’t ruin his reputation.

    4. OP*

      Saving one, living off the other (part of my budget includes charitable giving for animal welfare, social justice, and public health orgs). If I can keep this up I hope to retire early and focus on the things I love to do.. which yes, includes volunteering for the above orgs.

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        I was wondering what you’re doing with the additional salary, and this only makes me like you more. I hope you’re able to succeed at both jobs and retire early to focus on trying the make the world a better place. Best of luck!

      2. Kudos*

        OP, as a fellow woman in tech, I support you. “Trickle down” is just plain irrelevant here and we both know there are positions that you absolutely can get 2 jobs worth of work done each week. I would just say stay mindful of creeping responsibilities so that you can quit while ahead if it turns out to be necessary. Otherwise, hope it all goes well. Companies have done the reverse to us forever.
        You being a woman does matter to me, because I know you worked twice as hard to get both. Kudos.

    5. Zee*

      He was working 36 hours/week at each job… how is that double-dipping? That’s just having two full-time jobs. Not at all the same scenario as OP.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I disagred. In both cases work output is negatively impacted.

        OP writes “[I] have awesome teammates who dotted-line report to me and who I can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities.” So, their dotted line reports are picking up OP’s slack, which wouldn’t be there if OP was doing either job properly.

        In Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est’s example, the coworker’s only saving grace was availability and attendance, which tanked. And I get the impression the coworker’s work quality went from bad to worse.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          In Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est’s example, the coworker’s only saving grace was availability and attendance, which tanked. And I get the impression the coworker’s work quality went from bad to worse.

          I’d list his willingness to take a shot at things that would stretch his skill set as a saving grace, too, but that tanked right alongside the availability and attendance. He is a likable guy, which helped him as well, but ultimately your summary is pretty much on the nose.

          I respect your opinion, Zee, and your right to it, but no one I spoke to over those two years had a single doubt that what he was doing was double-dipping.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I should also acknowledge the other programmers in the role were working roughly 10 hours per day 5 days per week. I don’t know what the standard time commitment was for the other job, but we were getting ~25 hours on second shift when his peers were mostly working 50+ hours on first shift during the week.

  11. Bee Eye Ill*

    Most leadership positions involve lots of meetings, so I wonder about time management here, but I also know that in many places the “chiefs” don’t really do much day to day. The real work is done by the people a few steps down the proverbial ladder. It’s almost like the LW is more like a consultant for both companies rather than an employee. If the employers feel like they get what they pay for here, I say keep it going!

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Yeah, I think it would matter more at “lower” levels of the org chart, where the work is more about doing than thinking.

    2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      For meeting time management you’d have to be pretty organized to maintain two separate calendars with two sets of meetings. Considering how many things get rescheduled…

      Then you have 2x the email. And 2x the annual training. And 2x the annual performance reviews.

      Do you have 2 different work cell phones to
      mentally delineate which job you’re responding on?

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, if someone tried to do this in my job it would fall apart over meeting scheduling, I’m guessing, if nothing else did it. There aren’t options to sync with external calendars (much to my frustration in the past year when my spouse and I had to coordinate child care during remote school), and you’re expected to keep your calendar up to date so that people can schedule based on your calendar availability. I can’t really imagine trying to keep up with manually blocking off time on one calendar every time something changed on the other. Sometimes the meeting notices don’t even hit my inbox but go straight to my calendar and/or deleted items based on what kind of update it is.

        Maybe OP’s roles have fewer meetings than mine.

    3. Purely Allegorical*

      “If the employers feel like they get what they pay for here” — my bigger issue is OP’s colleagues. If you’re deferring 38% of your work, where is that going?

      I know OP says she’s getting through her work quickly cuz she can stay focused/organized etc etc, but a couple lines in her letter made me wonder if she’s overly relying on her colleagues or dotted line reports to get stuff done that she should really be paying attention to here.

  12. The Smiling Pug*

    This entire letter strikes as greedy and a bit tone-deaf to what’s going on in the world-job market. Some people are struggling to get by with three part-time jobs, and this LW thinks it’s “flying under the radar” with $400k/year. Someone is bound to notice something, sooner or later.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Especially if your work performance is suffering due to not being able to focus completely on a project. As time goes by, what’ll happen when crunch time comes? Yikes…

      2. The Best Revenge is Your Paper*

        This. This is all I could think reading this.
        Ethics aside, even with the LinkedIn profile deleted, there is no way to completely work 2 director level positions in an opaque bubble. One of those dotted line reports at one company, may have a spouse whose brother in law across the country is a dotted line report to OP at a different company.
        Ultimately it doesn’t really matter whether Alison or any of us think it’s ethical. It really matters if the people in charge at either company would care if/when they find out. I can’t imagine a world in which they wouldn’t care. . and I also can’t imagine the sheer unlikely luck of never being outed.
        And the ‘outing’ seems like it would come with a LOT of career-tarnishing fallout.

    1. mreasy*

      I make $150k/year working 40-50 hours/week, not doing manual labor, not on my feet all day. Plenty of people by virtue of their lot in life work multiple jobs to make 1/3 of what I do. Not saying I don’t work hard, but I don’t see a difference here in terms of “what is going on in the world.”

      1. Avril Ludgateau*

        This snarky little quip tells me your parents’ attempts to instill in you gratitude, empathy, and perspective tragically failed. My deepest sympathies to them.

        1. Nails*

          It’s possible your sympathies aren’t needed! “Eat your vegetables because kids [often in an exploited nation] have none” is not recommended at all as a parenting technique, and is actually the prime example of the “Fallacy of relative privation” (aka “appeal to worse problems” or “not as bad as”) – dismissing an argument or complaint without addressing it, because of a fictional scenario.

          It also does not instil empathy – there is nothing a child can do with this information. Eating their vegetables will not change the suffering of other children. It is simply adding the suffering to their plate.

          It does not instil gratitude – true gratitude does not come from comparison, which is the thief of joy.

          It’s hard to say how the fallacy of relative privation instils a *healthy* perspective, because it’s about dismissing any concern that isn’t the worst case scenario, and scolding people for … not living under the worst case scenario? For example, the fallacy’s often used to dismiss the very real person concerns of women, by stating that “women in other nations have it worse.” Over time, I feel it would be harder to maintain perspective this way because there will *always* be some hypothetical construct of something worse that could happen, which could be used to make the first person feel bad.

          And it doesn’t even make kids eat their vegetables.

          So I’m not sure that the fallacy of relative privation is very relevant at any level of this argument, even for OP. She is not going to be able to charitably donate one of her “excess” jobs to someone in greater need, because it isn’t in her power to do so; jobs are assigned by demonstration of merit.

          I think there’s an ethical argument to be made for why OP should re-examine her job, but it isn’t fallacy-based.

        2. Nanani*

          When you’re done pouring condescencion on the thread, consider applying logic.

          Neither your dinner plate nor LWs jobs affect the availability of those things to other people. The world we live in was not created by kids being too full for carrots or by people working two jobs.

          (also like, my parents never used that line on me; they had it used on them and recognized that it was bullshit which should not be passed on)

  13. idwtpaun*

    You would have to be a very organized person to pull this off, I think. Imagine accidentally mentioning a task or a coworker belonging to one job while talking to someone from the other.

    I suppose you could argue that in theory it’s no different than freelancing or having an Etsy shop on the side of a full-time job, but it does feel different. And I think the biggest reason why is that these are jobs with employment contracts (I assume). There is an implication in a contract that while you’re doing this job during whatever its hours are, you’re doing *only* this job. Maybe employers will have to start spelling that out now if situations like yours become more common.

    My last thought about what is actually going on is that you’re so efficient at your job that you can, in essence, do everything required of you in what would be part-time hours… except that the job was offered to you as full time and why wouldn’t you take that salary. So you took advantage of that by taking a second “part-time” job. An employer would probably argue that if you’re actually working part-time hours they should be paying you part-time salary.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I was thinking something along the lines of your first paragraph, but worse. Imagine sending a completed assignment to the wrong company. That will get you instantly caught and fired by one company.

      Then that would open a new ethical question: If you found out your employee was doing this, of course you would fire them. But would you inform the other company?

      1. River Otter*

        OP definitely has a different laptop for each company. Probably a different cell phone, too.

        It’s really not that hard to keep projects separate. Think about a lawyer or doctor. They have to keep client information completely separate. It might seem hard if you’ve never worked this way, but it really is not.

      2. Admin 4 life*

        I have to imagine that’s harder to do though. He’s probably issued a laptop for both companies and the files he has access to will be restricted to those laptops. Any automated branding in MS Office Suite will be another indicator he needs to switch laptops. It will be hard to send data between work accounts and foolish to try. It would be very easy to keep them separated. The only issue I do see is saying something but at OPs level, that could be excused with saying he was looking at the wrong notes or thinking about a new project they could do.

        Travel is where I’d bet this will unravel. The tech company I work for does random location checks by pinging their laptops (for state taxation purposes allegedly) so if there is travel involved, things could be tricky (this was also brought on by people leaving the country but continuing to work in their designated time zones). They occasionally activate our mics too which I’m sure have picked up my kid screaming at some point. Anyone busted is investigated and terminated.

        1. Estrella the Starfish*

          What is your company investigating by activating your mics? Is to try and catch people doing what OP is doing or to catch people out if they have a 10 minute conversation with whoever they live with?

          I take it the location check is because they only want you working from home, not some random location?

          1. Admin 4 life*

            We’ve been told it’s a security glitch. But a few times every day the mic symbol comes up and it pops up with “Microsoft Teams has activated your mic.”

            I’m assuming they run the snippets of sound through an automated program to screen for anything noteworthy. It’s the one thing that bothers me about how the company has handled covid. I understand the tax liabilities of saying you work in Texas but you’re traveling and working from India (this specific one has happened a lot) which is why they check our locations. The mic check feels like it could be used to discriminate against parents when they go back to requiring our kids to have someone else provide full time care while we work.

    2. Angelinha*

      I think it’s safe to assume that since these jobs are both in the US, there are no contracts in place.

      1. idwtpaun*

        To be honest, I still don’t quite understand how that works for you all. You agree to the terms (salary, benefits, etc), but then no one signs anything?

        1. Name Required*

          Employees in the US usually sign an offer letter that typically states that employment is at-will and not guaranteed. The offer letter includes your compensation, PTO, stuff like that.

        2. Ha2*

          No, there’s an official offer letter and it’s signed, it describes the past and benefits and so on. The main difference is that it’s “at will” – either party can unilaterally terminate the agreement at any time. So you can either quit or be fired for any reason at any time. (There are some specific reasons for fitting that are illegal – generally discrimination for being in a protected class, and a few others. And on the employee’s side, quitting with no notice probably would ruin the relationship with that specific company.)

    3. quill*

      The other difference is the potential crossover of proprietary data. Sure, the businesses may have no conflict of interest, but that doesn’t mean LW doesn’t have access to confidential info that could cross over accidentally.

      It’s one thing if you’re working in two separate fields (writing a novel on the clock, running an etsy store, etc,) but if you’re c-suite in two companies, there’s just no way they’re distinct enough that there isn’t cause for concern.

    4. Bernice Clifton*

      Yup. I remember way back when I was in high school in the time of landlines a guy I knew got busted for two-timing his girlfriend because he called her house and asked for another girl by name.

      1. idwtpaun*

        Ha! Yes, I ended up not putting in my comment, but that’s exactly the kind of parallel I was thinking of.

  14. lunchtime caller*

    Coming from someone currently working 3 jobs cobbled together into a 60 hour a week schedule (but where all know about each other and exactly how much time I’m giving to them)…this doesn’t feel right to me, mainly because the short term benefits (the double salary) are not going to outweigh the longterm of having to explain any of this to a next job! Do you just ignore the less flashy one on your resume? Trust that no one is ever going to connect that you’re at both and cause a fuss? I’d say if anything, just pick the one you like more and leave the other citing some sort of “couldn’t turn it down” reason. Especially as you keep rising in the ranks, it is extremely hard to imagine this will both stay secret and not come into conflict with some of company policy.

  15. Elle*

    Many people have their own businesses that they run even while working full-time elsewhere, even to the point of companies being okay with salaried people handling issues related to the side business during “normal” business hours. Many of my coworkers are farmers, one owns a landscaping business with her husband, and so on. Many people work a second job that they may even have 30+ hours a week doing on evenings and weekends. Fundamentally, how is this much different?

    This recently came up in conversation with my grandboss. I am one of those people with a side business, which my company knows and supports. It’s even on the top of my resume because it is in our field. I have to say, I was a little disappointed when she said she would have no trouble having a second full-time remote job in addition to what she does now as my grandboss because to me that signaled that she wasn’t working very hard. I know this seems hypocritical, but my side business can be kept 90% outside of normal business hours.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      companies being okay with salaried people handling issues related to the side business during “normal” business hours.

      In my experience companies are NOT okay with someone doing their side business during normal duty hours” on the clock. Companies really frown on this and fire people for this.

      It sounds like your own experience / industry is unusual in this way. But your disappointment points to why. Your grandboss could be doing more / lots more and isn’t. You seem to wish you had more support, assistance, oversight because she’s not providing the best management/leadership that she could be.

      1. DarnTheMan*

        I had a former co-worker who explicitly would bring in his side business design work to work on at the office because we had better graphic software; the only reason he couldn’t be fired was because it was a government job and he had a permanent role. But even though they couldn’t fire him over it, it severely damaged his reputation to the point that he couldn’t move to any other ministries because no one at my work would give him a good reference, and the managers gave him no quarter when it came to anything else about the job.

      2. Elle*

        In my estimation, when people are salaried, “on the clock” doesn’t really exist. That’s one of the main characteristics of being salaried. Now certainly there are exceptions, and if it’s disruptive to your normal duties obviously it wouldn’t work, but in most cases when your salaried you have the flexibility to take a non-company call or appointment, or to read an internet forum occasionally during normal business hours.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yeah, this is explicitly prohibited in our staff handbook and a fireable offense, especially if you bill time to a customer project when you’re not working on it (and there are annual project-hour requirements that, if you don’t meet, impact your performance review and bonus). Taking a personal call or doing a quick bank run would probably not be a big deal, but, bringing your second job to work would be Not Okay.

        Our parameters around second jobs are generally that they do not interfere with normal business hours (in-person or virtual, most of our roles are availability/coverage-related), that the other employer is not a competitor or customer, and that it doesn’t impact your job performance.

    2. Mary*

      I would agree with you Elle, A lot of senior people take on other responsibilities, charity roles, board position, etc; and there is a bit of overlap into their day job. It happens everywhere so why not a bit lower down the food chain. I know our senior exec say we work much hard than they do, just to get through stuff. They think and consider strategy a lot and do less hands on tasks to be done today/tomorrow. And if the LW cuts out all the chit/chat & time wasting why not get both jobs done in the 50 hours. The only think is the meetings, off site days, training days. Where your presence is required at a certain place and time so you can fulfill your job. I know a lot of senior execs send stand in as they are often double and triple booked. But would you if you were new to the role?

      1. nona*

        Except those charity roles and board positions know the person has the first job and aren’t asking for the same 8 hours every day as the first job. And sometimes they are actually a bonus to the first job, because of networking or making the first job company feel good about itself that its employees are such good community members.

        That’s a different animal than working for a second company, promising the same 8 hours every day to someone else that first job doesn’t know about. The second job isn’t providing any benefit or goodwill to the first job.

        1. Elle*

          In this case though, where it sounds like a fairly flexible role where “on-duty” and “off-duty” time isn’t very clear cut, it doesn’t really seem like they *are* promising the same 8 hours to two different people. They aren’t even promising 40 hours each week to either company, let alone the exact *same* 40 hours.

    3. Metadata minion*

      If you can do your side business entirely outside of the hours you’re working for your main job, that seems completely ethical! I wouldn’t even have a problem with someone answering the occasional customer email or whatever for their side business during slow times. Plenty of people have to make ends meet by working 2 or 3 part-time jobs and this isn’t really any different.

      The difference in this letter is that the LW is working two full-time jobs in substantially less than two full-time jobs’ worth of time, and is having to balance prioritizing tasks for both jobs against each other rather than just having their M-F office job and their evening/weekend gig giving singing lessons or whatever.

      1. Elle*

        I mean, I can’t do it *entirely* outside those hours. I have to have probably 2ish hours a week during ‘normal’ 8-5 hours of responsibilities with my side business, for meetings or calls that have to be done during the 8-5. I treat them just like my company treats having a dentist appointment or making a call to pay my phone bill — that is to say, I block the time on my calendar and make sure my work is all getting handled in a timely manner and it’s no big deal because I’m salaried and they are flexible.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      The fundamental difference I see is that the company in your case knows about the side businesses (I’m assuming from your comment). If the OP told each of their employers about the other job, and everyone was OK with the situation, then it would all be good and above-board. But if they told their employers they were working two jobs and the companies were not OK with that, then there’s the difference between OP’s situation and yours.

      1. Elle*

        To an extent, yes. My company knows about my business, it’s at the top of my resume, and I certainly talk about it openly. There are probably situations in which an employee has a side gig that their employer *doesn’t* actually know about but it wouldn’t be a big deal if they did – say, starting a business selling crafts. Only an unreasonable employer would get upset about that presuming the employee was being responsible. But yes, in this case even a reasonable employer would probably have serious misgivings. If anything, it should be wakeup call to the employer that this position is overpaid and/or under-delivering on its value!

  16. Goose*

    Pulling out the popcorn for this one.

    Ethical? Couldn’t say. Chaotic neutral? Maybe.

    OP, if you are actually pulling it off, get yours. I salute you. That said, it’s only been a month, and things may ramp up at one or more of the positions. Please keep up in the loop of how long you’re able to pull this off!

    1. Kiki*

      I’m also curious how this will be going in month 6! I don’t necessarily condone doing this, but I feel like if you’re going to, you should start one job first, work there for a year and get a sense for the workload, THEN add a second job, not start two completely new jobs at once!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yes I’m very interested in hearing an update once the LW has been at the company longer. I’ve definitely had jobs where I felt like I did almost nothing for the first few months as I settled in and then bam!, the workload increased.

      2. Ali G*

        Yeah I wouldn’t be surprised if the LW is forced to choose one job over the other by the 6 month mark. Regardless of the ethics, I just don’t think it’s sustainable. At least they will have 6-months of $400k income to fall back on if they do!

  17. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Alison I’d like to add the letter you linked from 2019 to the requests for updates – I’d love to see how that turned out given this conversation happening now.

    1. Mrs. Smith*

      I’m curious: how does this arrangement affect benefits? Which insurance do you use, what pension plan gets the contribution? And sick leave – do you take sick leave at both jobs if you’re actually sick?

      1. Toodie*

        US residents have to pay into to SSN on only the first $142,000 of income (I think). What happens to you after you’ve met your max?

          1. Anonymoose*

            This. My paycheck shot up a month or so ago, and, when I called payroll to make sure I wasn’t being overpaid, they said I’d hit my SS max and they were no longer deducting it.

            1. OP*

              They stop taking it out after the limit is reached. The limit is per person not per paycheck, so since I’ll hit the limit twice, I’ll get repaid the overage at tax time.

              1. Jen in Oregon*

                This might be your Achilles heel. Next year, both of your HR departments could get a ping from the SSA that you’ve maxed out for the year some time in late April/early May. They’ll check their records, look at your compensation for the year, and might very well put 2 and 2 together.

                1. I got the dirty twirls, Schmidty!*

                  This might clue in one/the other/both of the companies that OP has more than one job, but she’s already said nothing in her employee handbooks prohibits a second job. That alone won’t be evidence of anything other than possibly an extremely lucrative side hustle, at least not to the HR staff.

                  OP – kudos. It’s definitely a weird arrangement but if you’re organized enough to keep it from getting overwhelming for you or affecting your colleagues at either org, I think this is really cool.

        1. Mitzii*

          Good point on the SSI deductions. OP will be basically double-paying until she hits the limit individually at each job. Wonder how that will all shake out?

      2. Elle*

        Insurance would work the same way it does now for people who are married — you pick which one you want to be on. Recently I switched off of my husband’s and onto my company’s because mine is actually better than his. If you are too sick to work either job, you would presumably take sick leave from both.

        1. Gumby*

          Yup, but! If OP ends up leaving (by choice or not) the job from which she is getting medical insurance, it could be harder to get on to the other company’s plan outside of the normal enrollment period. Because it’s a lot easier to explain a spouse losing the job that was providing benefits than you doing it when company #1 doesn’t know about company #2.

    2. Yvette*

      Which one, “Is there any way to find out…” or “our new hire was secretly working …”? Because both were really interesting. I would love an update for each.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The letter linked in the text “I never would have condoned” in Alison’s answer. It is titled “my coworker plans to work a second job during our work hours, without telling our boss” from 27 February 2019.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I really liked reading this part of Alison’s answer from that letter:

      “I can imagine someone arguing that if he’s getting all his work done for his first company, then it shouldn’t matter if he’s also working a second job during his hours for them. And in a totally different universe without our particular norms and expectations around work, maybe that would be true.”

      It appears we are approaching that totally different universe with new norms and expectations around work…

      1. Avril Ludgateau*

        Even if I find OP’s ethics very questionable, I will say I truly appreciate Alison’s willingness to question her pre-conceived notions and change her perspective when circumstances call for it. And her self-awareness in recognizing both the change and the need for it. Well done, Alison!

  18. Kiki*

    Apparently a guy at my new company was doing this and was let go shortly before I was hired this summer. It seemed very silly to me because it’s a small agency and everyone has to bill their time. It was clear very fast that he wasn’t doing anything! There are totally jobs where I think you could get away with this in our field, but they’re at big product corporations, not small agencies!

  19. TimeTravlR*

    I love your answer, Alison! We all learn and grow, don’t we? I once had a job that would have been great to partner with a second position because the only deadline I ever had was to get my reports reviewed and returned within three days of receiving them. I worked when I wanted and where I wanted. And never missed a deadline. There are probably a few others out there but definitely not my current job!

  20. BlueberryFields*

    I think it’s hard to use an ethics argument because I feel like capitalism is inherently unethical, but I’m mostly like, I would be really annoyed if I were your coworker and it impacted my job (i.e. made more work, etc.).

      1. cranky*

        That’s such a copout attitude though.

        “It’s on other people ot catch you screwing someone over.” Excuse me, what? No. This person is a C level, and part of that means being available to your reports, and proactively looking for growth opportunities.

  21. Twenty Points for the Copier*

    Ethics aside, I think one thing the LW should consider is the relative value of current vs. future earnings. If you’re very close to retirement, the extra 200k for a year or two may be worth it. But if you’re someone who is going to be director level or higher for many more years, the reputational hit of being caught working two jobs at once could really outweigh, financially, the short term benefit of pulling down two salaries.

    1. Emmie*

      This is a really good point. The LW could also get terminated from both jobs if this comes to light, which may impact future job opportunities and LW’s reputation with her current coworkers. I also wonder whether this is a violation of LWs company policies. Is the risk – short and long term – worth the reward?

      1. A Person*

        I wonder about this too! Although in tech I could see some people being impressed by the ability / audacity…

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Especially if you’re interviewing at a new job down the line and run into a coworker from company A (company A isn’t on your resume, company B is).

      Or worse, you’re hired at the new company and company A coworker starts talking about your work history at company A and this draws blank stares from the people who hired you.

  22. Office Hamster*

    I dunnooooo. My first reaction was NO but the more I consider…I dunno! I DO think it’s HIIIIGHLY likely that you are not going to be as effective as you think you are juggling both. The commenter above who predicted you’ll gain a reputation for being slow to work/respond is probably correct.

    Or maybe not! Some people (myself included) are very fast workers who truly can juggle a lot effectively, who are traditionally penalized either doing hourly work (fast work = less pay) or salary (lots of bored downtime).

    I feel like the truly ethical thing would be for you to be a freelance consultant. Then your clients know they’re sharing you, you can have however many you want without worry. Delivering 25 hours of work when you agreed to 40, and helping yourself to their benefits packages as well does feel shady.

    1. lunchtime caller*

      The only thing that worries me as a fellow fast worker is that if your job is more intangible deliverables like big picture thinking, longterm planning, creative steering of the ship, etc, you basically cannot do that on an accelerated schedule–it requires sufficient periods of uninterrupted, deep thinking time. So I think OP can skate by in that type of job for a while because there aren’t that many hard deliverables on a weekly basis, but frankly they’ll do a kinda shitty job next to someone with their whole heart in it longterm.

      1. Office Hamster*

        That’s true! When I’m spread thin I often find I can only manage production work, big-picture and abstract tasks are much harder…I think you’re right that despite their best intentions, OP isn’t going to be able to deliver particularly thoughtful work.

        Also DANGER ZONE for giving the same solution to each client. Competitor or not, that seems like a no-no.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah. I’m with you. In theory, I guess I don’t have an issue with it….in practice, I think it’s most likely that either those jobs are overpaid or OP is underperforming.

  23. Joan Clayton*

    Right now this may be a good idea. But these jobs sound like they need to have a lot of attention to detail. I’m just thinking about months down the line when you may start missing these details and signing off on things that look “janky.”
    IDK, I love my peace of mind more than money, so I couldn’t put my mind through these hoops. Best of luck tho!

  24. Anonymous Koala*

    I think you’re only managing to limit work to 50 hrs/week because you’re a month in and the companies are giving you some slack to get up to speed. Come back in 6-12 months and let us know how this plays out.

    1. BlueberryFields*

      Exactly. I’m just imagining a scenario where there are two end of fiscal year fires to put out and OP is in the middle of both of them. If it’s your responsibility to put out fires and you’re not there with the hose, I am not going to be happy. I think OP can manage it for a while, but it’s not going to work for the long term.

    2. Environmental Compliance*


      As soon as I read that it had only been a month, I chuckled. Of course they can meet objectives! The expectations will still be revolving around getting used to the company, processes, etc.

    3. Awkward Interviewee*

      Yup. I’ve very skeptical someone can do a director level job well long term (with travel!) at 25 hours a week. I think OP is fooling themself.

    4. CheeryO*

      Yeah, one month in is truly nothing. I’m six months into a big jump in responsibility at work, and I only started feeling the squeeze about a month ago. I don’t care how energetic the LW is – this will absolutely catch up to them, either in quality of work output or in their responsiveness and how they are perceived in general. I think the travel requirements alone with do them in. I would definitely have my doubts about someone who appeared to be unavailable for a core job duty a large chunk of the time, unless I was pretty clueless about their day-to-day work.

    5. DarnTheMan*

      My team has had a lot of director turnover over the past few years – and amount of time needed to commit to the role was something the whole team flagged as a consideration for our senior leadership after our most recent director left. I’ve worked places where the director positions really aren’t that busy but in a lot of other jobs I’ve been in, directors are putting in 50-60 hours a week and no amount of efficiencies will cut that time down by a significant amount.

    6. Guacamole Bob*

      Yeah, this was my thought. There’s the thought experiment aspect of it that’s fun for the comments section to debate, but in practical terms OP hasn’t really demonstrated that they can make this work yet.

  25. Occo*

    I think it’s very unethical. You’re getting paid for full time, working half time, and if you had crises going on at both jobs at the same time, you’d “prioritize” – meaning, both employers would be paying you, but you’d secretly choose whose crisis to actually work on. (And how would that work, I wonder? What excuse would you give to the team you decided to deprioritize?)

    The employee-employer relationship changing is a good thing, rank outright dishonesty is not.

      1. Willis*

        Yeah, I kind of feel like OP is going to end up being some executive’s example that proves why “we just can’t trust people are actually working when they’re at home.”

    1. rl09*

      Yeah, I’m with you. This is not a “grey-area.” It’s unethical, full-stop.

      Especially this part: “I have awesome teammates who dotted-line report to me and who I can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities.”

      Sooooo you plan to collect 200k per year while only working 25 hours per week, because you know you can push your responsibilities on to your teammates…who most likely make less money than you, and are already working more hours than you. But good for you, I guess?

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yeah, this is where I land on this too. I’ve been the person who had to pick up the slack when a coworker started prioritizing his side-gig, doing that work on company equipment during regular work hours.

    2. nona*

      Yup – you are selling the same time/capacity twice (not additional), without informing either employer, so both have the expectation of exclusive rights to your time/attention during business hours.

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        They may have that expectation, but that doesn’t mean they actually have the rights to that.

        1. nona*

          Why not? What was in the job description ? What is in the handbook? Why would a company hiring a full-time employee not expect to have that employees attention for 40 hrs a week, unless otherwise using vacation/PTO time? What was discussed in the interview? I would argue those facts to start to add up to a reasonable expectation about the exclusive relationship between an employee and employer. What else would need to happen for an employer have the right to that expectation?

          Has not 36-40 hrs a week been established as full time in the public consciousness? Is it not such an understood convention in the US that if an employer/employee had expectations of a different relationship that would have been discussed. I would argue that if you mean to buck convention, then there’s a conversation that needs to be had with all parties involved to make sure you are on the same page.

          1. Nanani*

            This is the key to the question.
            If they didnt explicitly ask for exclusivity, they shouldn’t get it based on a nebulous norm.
            Why are nebulous norms okay to violate when employers do it but not in this case?
            If you have an answer to that, great, but if it’s just “But… theres a NORM” then that’s not actually an answer to the ethical question.

            1. nona*

              Is it really that nebulous though? I don’t think it’s nebulous that a full-time office job = 40 hrs/wk of exclusive access to your time, whether or not the employer needs it all. That’s been the standard understanding for the last few decades, right? Maybe that’s changing, maybe not, but that doesn’t make decades of precedent nebulous.

              What are these norms that we are actually okay with the Employer violating? Or do we point those out as bad things when the Employer does it too? “Employer does bad things too” isn’t really an counterpoint to the ethical question.

              1. Jamie Starr*

                There’s also the case of benefits – specifically insurance. If the OP is enrolled in one of the employer’s health plans, the contract usually specifies how many hours have to be worked for an employee to be eligible for coverage. For example, ours is 30 hours so I think there would be an assumption that OP would be working at least enough to meet the requirement for benefits. If the OP knowingly isn’t that seems like insurance fraud to me. (Not on the part of the employer because they’re operating on the belief OP is working full time ie. 35 – 40 hours, but on the part of the OP.)

  26. JustMyImagination*

    I think LW needs to keep in mind it’s only been a month. At director level, doing strategy work, I’d expect the first month to be getting the lay of the land, making connections with other business leaders to accomplish their strategy and possibly schmoozing clients. You have the ability to be working ~25 hours at each job right now but are you really doing all you can? What happens in another month when the new-hire period has ended and you’re expected to understand the overall business strategy and use your influence to get things done. Will you have really earned enough influence and made the right connections by only working part time?

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      That’s a really good point. Here’s another one: what happens when you hit a high-workload event (budget time, investor meeting, etc.)? What is both companies have simultaneous high-workload events? You may suddenly have two 60-hour per week jobs.

      1. DarnTheMan*

        Or simultaneous busy seasons; different industries often have different periods but given the nature of the work, OP might find that there is overlap between their jobs where both enter a busy season of a few months.

    2. momamma*

      This, especially in relation to the strategy work. A month in, ok, but as time goes on? Missing 15 hours a week, ongoing, seems like a lot when considering the aspect of less quantifiable work.

  27. wbw*

    Unless both contracts state non-exclusivity you’re likely just simply in violation of both deals. If you were explicitly non-exclusive I could see the ethics being debated about “I’m flexing what that means and haven’t told either side I have another job” but this is probably just a simple “you’re violating your contract” kind of thing and I’d be pretty worried about the ruse falling apart.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        My rinky-dink $45,000/year 40 hour/week job told me at hire I couldn’t continue my temp work (completely unrelated field) and work for them also. No actual contract, but I’m very sure I’d be fired if I started temping during a regular work week and making up hours on the weekend/evenings even tho the job is extremely flexible and independent. They stress life/work balance as part of keeping quality up. It blows me away someone would jepordize a $200,000/year job (and their reputation) by not being upfront with the company.

  28. AY*

    400K is a lot of money, but the stress of keeping this up would take years off my life. I couldn’t do it. I also think OP is unlikely to be able to keep it up (as a practical matter, not an ethical one). It’s only been a month. It’s really hard to imagine avoiding a true double crisis in both positions indefinitely.

  29. Cat Lover*

    I feel like working two *director* level positions to the tune of hundreds of thousands is really tone deaf towards the current reality. I would be pissed if I were the companies. Plus that seems like wage theft.

  30. JSPA*

    Some people put 35+ hours a week into their art, childcare, sex lives, fandom, writing, eldercare, learning languages, online gaming, fostering kittens.

    Some of those things are scheduling negotiable. Some, not really (or really not). They make it work.

    If OP finds that two jobs each distract pleasurably from the other, as a consuming hobby would do, and if OP happens not to have many other draws on their time, such that an occasional 85 hour work week is doable, this may be reasonably doable. Especially if they have a creative and orderly brain, such that good ideas for both jobs pop up and get mentally filed without much distraction.

    I’d sure check the fine print on any hiring agreement / company policy / contract.

    I tangentially wonder how this will land with the IRS, but it’s generally OK to withhold too much, so maybe that’s fine?

    If it becomes unmanageable, OP does need a graceful exit strategy.

    I can’t imagine that there will not eventually be overlap (if you include spouses of coworkers and clients) who will catch on.

    At that point–human nature!–whatever effort you’ve done and whatever product you’ve created will be retroactively downgraded in people’s minds if they know that you didn’t while paying “halftime attention.”

    1. Old Cynic*

      Funny you mention IRS. Income taxes will likely come out in the wash at the end of the year. BUT…this guy will be overpaying Social Security withholdings at about $10k/year. I don’t recall a line on the 1040 for recouping that. ??

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        All your pay and all your withholdings are added up and the overage will be refunded. It’s no different than having multiple consecutive jobs in one year – enter the W-2s and your tax software or accountant will calculate your refund, including overpayment of taxes. According to a quick google search, TurboTax says it shows up as a tax credit on Form 1040, Schedule 3, Line 10.

        1. Ha2*

          Yeah, the IRS doesn’t mind. As long as you give them too much money up front rather than too little, you just get a refund for the extra money later and it’s fine.

          (I’m not an accountant and this is not tax advice, consult with a professional if you’re using this info for anything other than chatting on the internet, etc)

      2. JSPA*

        If I remember correctly, and it hasn’t changed (from a situation where nothing was witheld, due to some oddness with a grant) you can’t recoup immediately, but you get credited to the next year / it rolls forward.

  31. Jean*

    Get your bag, OP. I say make it work for as long as you can, and then if you need to quit one then do it and keep it moving.

    There’s no compelling reason that employees shouldn’t be able to benefit from the same exploitative system that employers have been benefiting from since the beginning of work.

    1. CBB*

      You make a good point that should any problems arise with LW’s current setup, they can just quit one job.

      The moment you find yourself unable to juggle priorities, or unable put in the required hours, or if one employer starts getting suspicious. Just quit! You don’t even have to give a two-week notice or worry about getting a good reference because that job will never appear on your resume.

    2. Pam Poovey*

      This is where I am, too. I have a hard time caring about whether or not this is fair to a company when we all know that company would screw you over in a heartbeat if it helped their bottom line by a penny. Get that cash, stop one of them if it becomes too much.

  32. jj82*

    The logistics of this are just mind boggling to me. Do you have two laptops? How do you keep all the people and projects straight? And what happens when you inevitably make a mistake and send the wrong document to the wrong person at the wrong company? I just can’t imagine how this is sustainable long term.

    Also, I think the OP has their ethics question answered in that they don’t want anyone to find out…

    1. anonymous73*

      I have 2 laptops for the same job because I’m on a government contract and I’m working on a second internal project. I’m a Project Manager, can multi-task like nobody’s business and am extremely organized. And yet sometimes I’m trying to figure out why I can’t find someone in the address book because I’m looking it up on the wrong laptop. OP is a month in – let’s see how it’s going in 6 months or a year.

      1. Office Hamster*

        Lol same, I freelance and I juggle 10-15 projects at a time, there is a LOT of pretending I remember client team members. Fine for a freelancer (they know I’m not exclusive to them, and “have we worked together before?” goes both ways) but much less fine when you’re “full-time” and really should have everything down.

        I think it’s possible to do, but it’s hard and it takes time. Some of the teams I work with are large, and even after years together they’ll mention a team member I don’t know (but would if I actually worked there).

        1. jj82*

          Yeah, I have a job where I multitask but if I send the wrong thing to the wrong person it’s a much easier explanation then it would be in this case!

    2. River Otter*

      It’s really not difficult to keep different projects with different clients and different staff separate. Think about a lawyer or doctor. They have the same staff, but they are able to keep their client info separate. It sounds complicated if you’ve never done it, but it’s not any harder than keeping your hobbies separate from your work.

      1. Willis*

        Right, but if a lawyer accidentally says the wrong client name to their support staff, everyone can understand it was a mistake cause they deal with both those clients. If you accidentally say the wrong client name and it’s a client at the other law firm you also work at, it looks a lot weirder.

    3. CBB*

      I have three computers that I use everyday: one for my job; one for my hobby as an amateur musician; and one for personal stuff.

      Each one is optimized with hardware needed for different jobs, is logged into different email and social media accounts, and contains different files and applications. It turns out to be a good way to keep different duties organized and separate.

    4. Loredena Frisealach*

      Because I’m a consultant I currently have: laptop for employer; laptop for client; my personal desktop – all in a half circle where I sit in my home office! It’s actually not that hard to keep straight the documents/people/company. But I at least would never manage to keep my meetings coordinated if they were truly separate – I also forward between employer and client so I’m blocking them time on both, or I’d either overlap or miss meetings on the regular.

  33. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’ll condemn it.

    There may be someone else out there who is qualified for one or both of these jobs that is stuck working a couple of crappy jobs without benefits because LW is taking two full time roles. I am sick and tired of all the people who forget that we live in a society and that taking care of everyone benefits us all. This is beyond selfish and unnecessary.

    1. DarnTheMan*

      I agree; OP doesn’t work in the industry that I do but in mine, well-paying (with benefits) positions, even at the senior level, are a unicorn type role because once people get into them, they don’t leave them until they retire or get poached by another organization (who usually can offer them more than what they’re currently getting), so the idea of someone holding onto two of them just because they can feels wrong.

      Also as someone who reports directly to a director role, the idea of not feeling like my director can have time for me, or has my back when it comes to fixing emergency issues because they’re prioritizing a second team/job is just kind of icky.

    2. Lorine*

      Agreed. OP, this is a terrible idea, and it meets the definition of fraud: 1. You’re lying (in this case by omission, it still counts). 2. You know you’re lying. 3. You expect the person/company to believe you.

      I don’t know how this would play out if one (or both!) of these companies decided it was worth it to go after you in court, but it would at the very least be an expensive, reputation-destroying mess. Maybe they would “just” fire you, but it’s a juicy enough story that they would 100% be telling other people in the industry about it.

      I would quit one job while you’re still ahead.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      And then people below that who can’t get those two jobs, and so on, down to the person who can’t get a job at all.

      I think this is where I fall, too, and also I feel it would be different for a person on lower pay (ie up to about 60th centile hourly). But wanting to double your salary from $200k feels more like greed than need, and if it’s zero sum or even just not enough to go round unless fairly shared, then someone is suffering as a result.

    4. hbc*

      Seriously, I’m shocked at the number of people declaring this ethical. I bet none of them would be cool if, say, the babysitter they hired to watch their kids was simultaneously watching some other kids at the same time, or if they paid a trainer for a private lesson who kept leaving between sets to coach someone else or spent half the time on their phone. If you hire someone to spend the day doing chores for your elderly mother all day, are you fine if they decide they’ve done the amount required and kick their feet up for two hours? Does it really not matter as long as you don’t catch on?

      1. Salsa Verde*

        If the babysitter I hired to watch my kid was watching one other kid at the same time, I’d be ok with that, as long as my expectations around my kid being safe were met.
        For the trainer, I pay for their time, so I would not be ok if they spent half the time on their phone.
        For the chores, yes, if I pay for certain chores to be completed and they are, then I don’t care how long it takes them. However, if our agreement was 8 hours of chores, that would be different.

        I guess it centers around whether you see this as hours-based or not. I do not, since we have heard from the OP that there is no stated expectation around hours for these roles. In addition, we have seen that for jobs such as this, employers also do not abide by an expectation of hours, they expect the job to get done, even if that means working more than the stated expectation.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          If I hired a babysitter to sit my child, I’d want to know if they were sitting another child at the same time, though. I might not insist on one-on-one care, but I’d want to know what I was choosing.

    5. PhD survivor*

      Yes, I agree that secretly working two full time jobs during the same hours is a problem and it is taking a job from someone else. What if everyone did this? There would be a huge shortage of jobs and even more inequality than we already have. How can 200k a year in a good job in a good company not be enough?

  34. Katefish*

    Definitely not the biggest issue here, but this writer’s tax bill is going to be nasty unless they’re having a ton withheld.

    1. Cat Lover*

      Taxes and benefits (sick leave/pto, insurance, etc) are the most interesting parts of this scenario, ethics aside.

      1. No longer working*

        Yes the health insurance! I think an insurance company would know/discover if you have health insurance with another company. Someone in the field, correct me if I’m wrong about that. And if you you turn down insurance because you’re covered elsewhere, OP would have to…lie?

        1. Purely Allegorical*

          I was really wondering about the health insurance angle, too. I don’t know enough about that area to know if OP is in violation of something or in a position to accidentally (or not accidentally, since this is all on purpose?) lie to the federal gov. Something for her to look into! Could really come back on her in a nasty way!

        2. Rich or Poor...*

          All you have to do is indicate that you don’t want the health insurance, and if you give them your current insurer name/group number, it appears as if OP is using domestic partner coverage — no one will bat an eye.

        3. Jamie Starr*

          Yes I mentioned this upthread. Normally the insurance contract states that employees must work a certain minimum hours per week to be eligible for coverage. At my company it’s 30 hours. So it seems to me the employer would, at a minimum, have an expectation OP would work at least that many hours. If they’re not, I think they are also committing insurance fraud.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          I decline my company’s health insurance because my spouse’s is a better value, and I’ve never had to do anything other than tick the box during open enrollment that says, “Decline healthcare insurance”. I’ve been declining for almost a decade now, and my employer has never required any additional information about it. Less cost for them, they don’t care if/why I’m declining.

      1. nona*

        Ooo…probably ones that deals with AMT (alternative minimum tax). They would definitely deserve having to deal with AMT because of this.

    2. EleanorShellstrop*

      You can make tax payments directly to the IRS without it going through withholding. OP would just have to make quarterly estimated payments to account for the higher tax bracket.

      1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

        I have extra taxes taken out of my paycheck and my spouse has almost no taxes taken out of her paycheck. We put all the allowances we’re allowed between us on her W-2, and 0 on mine plus additional $ withholding. My employer didn’t bat an eye. The IRS doesn’t care as long as your total withholding is enough to avoid a penalty.

  35. kitryan*

    The employee handbook at my office explicitly states that it’s not permitted to work another job without specific approval. So, if either company covered this in their policies that OP agreed to, that’d make it pretty open and shut as ‘wrong’.
    I’ve actually paid close attention to this since I’ve ‘worked another job’ on a few occasions. I used to work in a different field before starting at this job where freelancing is common and in order to ‘keep my hand in’ I occasionally take small jobs from friends. I do them outside of my normal hrs or during PTO. It’s usually less than $300 and 5-10 hrs per job, and I take 0-3 jobs per year. So, I haven’t necessarily explicitly requested written permission for these jobs, since they’re so small, but I have mentioned it to past supervisors who haven’t had any issue. I did, last year, take a job that was more serious. It required +/- 20 hrs a week, for 3.5 weeks and overlapped a bit with work hours. For this I 100% ran it by my supervisor, either requested 1/2 days PTO or flexed my time to cover the time I was double booked for and worked both jobs. I’m glad I could make it work but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without disclosing it to ‘main’ job – I don’t think I could handle the stress!

    1. Boof*

      Yeah my job allows side gigs but not more than 1 day/week commitment, if I recall correctly. If there’s a company policy against then then I think it’s wrong to lie about it.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      This was true for my workplace too. You had to disclose the other work so they could vet it and make sure it wasn’t with a competitor and that it didn’t interfere with work hours. I had a short term side project for awhile, and HR OKd it right away, but I think it would have been a problem if they’d discovered it and I hadn’t disclosed it.

  36. lost academic*

    Starting a comment thread here to take bets on how long this will last – either because the OP drops one or both positions, or one or both find out and let them go. My bet is under a year.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m guessing between 6-9months. It’ll start getting noticed at about 6 months, with consequences setting in by 9 months.

        1. CBB*

          I agree. If it starts getting noticed around 6 months, LW would be wise to quietly resign one job before consequences start setting in.

          Personally I think working 25 hr/week for $200k would be a much sweeter gig than working 50 hr for $400k, so maybe LW will cut out this nonsense even before suspicion arise.

          1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

            Before taxes. The taxes on $400k are more than twice as much as those on $200k.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I don’t have an opinion on this — but I hope the comment section isn’t too off-putting to the OP because I would LOVE an update. I would be really curious to see how OP feels about this in a year’s time.

      Personally, I imagine the mental load of a director position means that this juggling might be more emotionally exhausting than they anticipate, but some people are good at compartmentalizing.

      1. OP*

        Nah, it’s not too off-putting! I’m grateful and humbled that people are spending the time thinking about this. Will for sure update you.

    2. No longer working*

      I don’t know how long it will last, but if you live a double life, the gig will be up at some point. Someone at company A will know someone at company B and her name will come up at some point. It’s beyond her control and she’ll get outed and ruin her career.

  37. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    The thing that stands out for me is not holding two job, but doing so at a director level. Most director-level roles come with expectations of leadership, drive, and availability. A factory worker or an entry-level analyst may have unfixable downtime because they had not been assigned work. A director with downtime would be expected to create work (e.g., propose a new project) or be clear with senior management that they had availability. That point is somewhat hypothetical, since most directors at the companies where I have worked did not have enough hours in the day to cover all of these responsibilities.

    Here is the ethical question: are you delivering the $200,000 value that each company expects from you? OP, if you emailed your senior management and said you were working only 25 hours a week, would they tell you that you can freely use the rest of your worktime for non-company activities? If yes, then you are in the clear. If not, then you are committing an ethical breach. The fact that you has kept this quiet tells me the latter may be the case.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “Here is the ethical question: are you delivering the $200,000 value that each company expects from you?”

      Yes, perfectly worded.

    2. Awkward Interviewee*

      Agreed. If OP was in, say, an individual contributor role and a particularly fast worker, finishing all their work in 25 hours, hitting all their metrics, there really wasn’t extra work available, etc., then this might be different. But… that is not how director roles work.

      1. DarnTheMan*

        I’ve admittedly thought about a second job before; my job is very niche so I can’t really take on work from other people and I definitely go through ebbs and flows where sometimes I’m very busy and sometimes I spend all day sitting around waiting to receive a project piece from someone. But even in my considerations I’d always thought about freelance work because the optics of applying – and getting hired – at a second company, while both companies are believing that they’re solely employing me for 40+ hours/week isn’t great.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      Agreed. If OP was a salaried individual contributor who was hitting their metrics in 25 hrs/week, I would have very few qualms about this – especially because companies are *very* likely to give you more work if you work faster than your peers, but very unlikely to increase your compensation in proportion to that extra work. But OP is a director, which suggests that they’re getting paid in part to come up with specific, creative long term corporate strategies and put out fires – things that are almost impossible to do well when you’re splitting your attention between two companies.

    4. WhatAMaroon*

      The leadership part is something I think im stuck on as well. Whether or not you have true direct reports I would say at most companies (that are functioning well) at the director level there is usually an expectation of some amount of mentorship and guidance and shaping of others to be prepared for growth. I don’t know how you do that at 2 jobs with only 25 hours a week. Maybe that’s not a major metric at your job but I do think it’s often a consideration point.

  38. CBB*

    Lot’s of people have side gigs in addition to their primary full-time job. I guess this is just an extreme example of that?

    I wonder if either of LW’s employers requires employees to inform them of other work they do. If they did, would LW be willing to abide by that policy?

  39. Yvette*

    ” I don’t have any direct reports, but have awesome teammates who dotted-line report to me and who I can rely on to accomplish day-to-day activities.” Are these activities those LW would/should normally do if they didn’t have another full time job? “Here, you take this work off my plate so I can work elsewhere.” I don’t think that is very ethical.

    1. S*

      YES. This is where things get shady. If your “dotted-line” report coworker is doing your day-to-day, you’re not successfully balancing your duties, you’re taking advantage.

    2. V. Anon*

      And if one of those coworkers find out? If it was me I’d be gunning for your job/salary (and no, I wouldn’t have a conversation w/OP about it, I’d just pounce). When you step outside the rules, it’s Thunderdome for everybody.

  40. Boof*

    Devil’s advocate (because I am skeptical of this arrangement too – if you have to hide it it’s not a good idea to do it in my book; and if you think the reasons it’s frowned upon are unjust well, maybe work on those reasons? Tell the companies up front “I I can do this I’ll be doing another job as well. Are you willing to give it a try?”.) – there’s a focus on 40 hrs/week. On the one hand, it’s possible to work 80 hrs/week (I’d say it’s unwise but, some folks can tolerate it; hey some folks only need 5-6 hrs of sleep a night). And secondly, if it’s salaried, I’d say it’s more a commitment to a certain volume of usefulness than hourly accounting.

    I think the biggest problem is the secrecy that’s going to be inherently involved in the arrangement described. If employers are really desperate for employees, I bet they’d be willing to consider sharing; on the other hand, if I was an employer and thought I was accommodating work life balance and personal needs, but found out I was really accommodating a second job when I thought I was the only one; well I would feel a bit cheated. The analogies with romantic relationships abound!

    I think the only way to ethically do this is 1) if the jobs have zero conflicts 2) ideally with full disclosure to both jobs for good measure anyway.

      1. River Otter*

        I have distracted coworkers who work 40+ hours at one job. Is this so different? If they are getting me what I need, who cares what the rest of their time is spent on?

        1. BlueberryFields*

          Sorry, I should have been clearer–I meant a coworker who isn’t getting work done because they are distracted by the other job’s priorities. Obviously, we don’t have evidence that OP will drop the ball, but it seems inevitable after the honeymoon period is over.

          1. River Otter*

            But again, how is that different to me from a coworker with multiple projects at the same company? I’ve got plenty of those.

            1. cranky*

              How would you like to work for a distracted manager? Cause that’s what this person is.

              They’re a damn director! The absolute best case is insane title creep at both jobs; the more likely case is that they’re leaning on reports/coworkers, failing to adequately mentor and do other director level task and that’ll have