When many white-collar workers started to work from home during the pandemic, they got a second remote full-time job with benefits. Their salaries jumped significantly, and some are now making $200,000 to $600,000.
But the balancing act can be stressful, and with a split attention span, both jobs suffered. These workers also aren’t telling their bosses about their double-dipping.
Wall Street Journal columnist Rachel Feintzeig spoke with several people who are living this double life. They were from all over the U.S. and worked for wide-ranging industries, including banking and tech.
“What some of these workers told me was … you want kind of like a bigger company, an older company, a company that maybe hasn’t totally mastered remote work yet,” she says.
Many people told Feintzeig that they weren’t working more than 40 hours per week total because they picked easier jobs and figured out how to get away with doing less. However, others said they were working up to 100 hours per week and were feeling the pressure.
One worker said he just started declining meetings. “Calendar invite pops up, you’re working from home, and you just click no. And he said nothing happened. There’s just more flexibility and freedom when you’re not in a physical office,” Feintzeig says.
However, what if both companies schedule Zoom meetings at the same time? Some people use excuses, while others will take both meetings simultaneously, she says. “Maybe they’ll log onto one on a laptop, one on a phone, so they can quickly physically move if things get a little hairy, if they get called on in one meeting. I talked to people who’ve gotten called on in both meetings at the same time. They’ll just drop off of one and say they had a connectivity issue, say that a kid’s school is calling so you have to jump off.”
She adds, “Even before you get to those close calls, the idea is to … be able to listen to two meetings at once and keep your brain straight.”
To juggle both jobs, there’s a constant stress of being found out, but also a sense of control and leverage, Feintzeig says. “This idea that … if one job calls me back to the office, or if my coworker or my boss isn’t treating me right, I can just leave. I can get another second job or at least I still have one job.”
Employment lawyers told Feintzeig that this doesn’t violate state or federal laws, but you could possibly violate a company contract. “Let’s say you signed something that had a non-compete, and the second company you're working for is a competitor, [which] somehow violates that agreement. You could get sued, but the lawyers told me probably what would happen is you would just get fired.”