November 28, 2023
min read

Trading Remote Work For Salary Reduction

Krissy Davis

During 2020, many people experienced remote work for the first time and found it to their liking. But the dramas of 2020 aren’t the only reason more people want to work from home. The global cost of living crisis is forcing people to evaluate their current living situation, and residing in major cities is no longer desirable due to such high costs. PRO Unlimited, a San Francisco-based company, conducted a study that found nearly 90% of employed individuals prefer jobs with remote work options.

While some companies welcome remote workers with open arms, many organisations still follow the old principle that "employees are most productive when working from the office." As someone who transitioned from working in an office for many years to freelancing full-time from home, I can tell you that the statement is redundant. However, that’s a discussion for another today because, in today’s article, I’ll be discussing whether or not remote jobs pay less and whether you should negotiate a pay cut to work from home. 

Do remote jobs pay less?

Whether or not remote jobs pay less than onsite jobs is a complex question that depends on a number of factors, including the type of job, the industry, the employer, your experience and the location. 

In certain situations, companies are cutting pay for remote workers. This is because some employers consider working remotely as a benefit or a luxury and not a standard work arrangement. As a result, they may be less likely to offer the same amount of compensation to remote employees as they would to onsite employees.

However, in other cases, remote jobs may pay the same or even more than onsite jobs. This is because some employers may be willing to pay more for remote workers in order to attract and retain top talent. Remote workers can also save on commuting and other expenses, increasing overall compensation.

Should remote workers be paid less?

Again, this question of whether remote workers should be paid less than onsite workers is complicated and one that has been debated extensively. There are strong arguments on both sides of the issue.

Arguments in favour of paying remote workers less:

  • Location-based pay differentials: Historically, salaries have been based on the cost of living in a particular location. Since remote workers can live anywhere, some argue that they should be paid according to the cost of living in their area, which may be lower than the cost of living in the employer's headquarters city.
  • A luxury, not a necessity: As mentioned before, some employers view remote work as a perk or a luxury, which generally counts as part of your compensation package.  

Arguments against paying remote workers less:

  • Remote workers are just as productive as onsite workers: Studies have shown that remote workers are just as productive as, if not more productive than, their office counterparts. They are also often more engaged and satisfied with their jobs.
  • Remote work can expand the talent pool: Companies can access a wider pool of talent by allowing remote work, leading to increased innovation and productivity in areas with lower cost of living.
  • Ethical and fairness: Paying remote workers less than onsite workers for the same job creates a two-tiered system that is unfair and inequitable. It also sends a message that remote workers are not valued as much as onsite workers.
  • Reduced costs for employers: Employers of remote workers save on office space, utilities, and other overhead costs. They may also save on training and development costs, as remote workers are often more self-sufficient.

So, should remote workers be paid less? In my opinion, no, I don’t believe someone should be paid less based on whether they work from an office or their kitchen counter. 

Should I take a pay cut to work from home? 

Some employers are often willing to negotiate remote work without pay cuts. However, if you want to transition to remote work and your employer wants to negotiate pay, here are some things to think about:   

  • How will your employer view your decision? In professional settings, money is often equated with value. Taking a pay cut may lead your employer to believe that you value yourself and your work less. Will they take advantage of that? 
  • Your financial situation: Can you afford to take a pay cut? Do you have any savings or other sources of income?
  • Do your research: Before you take a pay cut, do your research to make sure that you are getting a fair deal. Compare the salary of the remote position to the salary of similar positions in your industry.
  • Negotiate: Don't be afraid to negotiate the salary of the remote position. You may be able to get your employer to agree to a higher salary or to pay for some of the costs of working from home, such as office supplies or internet access.
  • Consider your long-term career goals: If you think that working from home will help you achieve your goals, then it may be worth taking a pay cut in the short term.
  • Consider long-term effects: Will remote work over a higher pay still be desirable in a year or two years' time?  

How to negotiate for remote work (without taking a pay cut)

Negotiating for remote work can be a challenging process, but it is definitely possible to do it successfully.

Side note: This section is for employees who have been with the company for a while and are highly valued. If you’re new to the role you’re negotiating or you’re in an entry-level or intern position, the following tips may not be as useful. 

Remember, as a new employee or intern who’s applied for a non-remote role, you have little leverage when it comes to negotiating for remote work. It’s also highly unlikely that you’ll get what you want if you still require training or monitoring by a senior colleague. 

Now, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn’t attempt negotiation, as you could get lucky. However, be prepared for your employer to decline and potentially start looking for a new person to fill the position. 

Here are some tips on how to negotiate for remote work:

  • Research

Before you start negotiating, make sure you have a good understanding of the company's policies on remote work. You should also research the average salary for your position in your industry and location to get a sense of what you should be asking for. 

  • Start the conversation early

Don't wait until you're already feeling burned out or stressed to start talking to your manager about working remotely. The sooner you start the conversation, the more likely you are to get a positive response.

  • Build relationships with your colleagues

The more your colleagues know and trust you, the more likely they are to be supportive of your request to work remotely.

  • Be proactive

Take initiative and show your manager that you're serious about working remotely. This could involve proposing a trial period or suggesting ways to stay connected with your team while working from home.

Note: If your employer agrees to a trial period, make sure to get a written contract, as verbal agreements can quickly lead to misunderstandings.

  • Be prepared to make a case for why you should be allowed to work remotely

Highlight your productivity, reliability, and ability to work independently. Be specific about how working remotely would benefit you and the company. Also, discuss your experience and contributions, two vital aspects to employers.

  • Cost cutting

Discuss how, when working remotely, the company can save on utilities, office supplies, and overhead expenses.

  • Be flexible 

Be willing to compromise on some things, such as the number of days you work from home each week or the hours you work.

  • Put your request in writing

Once you have a proposal ready, put it in writing and send it to your manager. This will give them something to refer to and will help to keep the conversation on track.

  • Be patient

Be patient and continue to follow up politely with your manager, as they may take some time to make a decision.

  • Be professional

Always be respectful and professional in your communications with your manager. Even if you're feeling frustrated, avoid making any negative comments about the company or your colleagues.

Trading Remote Work For Salary Reduction

November 28, 2023
min read

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