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Forget pay cut, give me a raise to work remotely

Last week, I wrote about one of the most contentious topics with regards to working remotely. Is it fair to cut someone's pay if they are given the benefit to work remotely?

Almost everyone on DEV & Twitter was vocal against this calling it absolutely unfair & presenting a multitude of reasons as to why it makes no sense.

So I want to follow up with an appeal to every employer on why they should offer a pay raise for asking employees to work remotely.

Remote work = increased expenses. Pay more to cover those expenses.

Every company expects their employees to have top-notch work setup with minimal disturbance. Our homes are not made for that and we need to spend money for:

  • Setting up a proper home office (table, chair, laptop stand etc.)
  • Setting up primary & backup internet & power connection
  • Additional bills for electricity, water, heating etc.

On the contrary, companies save huge costs on:

  • Rent
  • Power
  • Internet
  • Food
  • Maintenance staff

I would vote no, this is an unrealistic ask because to be honest. Studies show that most workers who work from home, give more hours to their job not less. And the employer gets to save money on building, power, internet, etc by having an employee work from home. So this means that they are seeing a bigger benefit to an employee working from home. Not saying that the employee doesn't benefit, but I don't feel its appropriate to ask for the employee to take a paycut when they stand to save money.

Remote work = more hours & more work done. Pay more for the additional effort.

Take any survey, conducted even in the middle of a global pandemic, and you'll see higher numbers in productivity & work hours for remote vs. in-office (latest example - Reuters' survey). Numbers are even higher when we look at surveys pre Covid.

All of this presents a very strong inference: Remote work results in more work done in less time. If that's the case, companies must pay higher compensation to remote employees.

No, same work = same pay. Plus working remotely often means you never leave the office both literally and figuratively.

Remote work = access to jobs across the world. Pay more to retain talent.

When you hire someone, you pay him/ her to do the job. The pay shouldn't change just because the employee is now getting the same job done from their home or elsewhere.

On the contrary, the ability to work remotely opens up an entire new set of global jobs for remote workers. If you aren't going to compensate your remote employees fairly, they will switch to a company that fairly values their time, effort & skill.

Definitely not. You're hired to do a job at the salary you've mutually agreed. It wasn't on the proviso that you need more money to get there and eat out. You're paid that because you're worth it and that's what you get for doing that job.

Remote work is a serious competitive advantage for companies. Pay fair and trust your employees to make remote work work for you.

I write regularly about tech, products, startups on Twitter. You can follow my updates there.

Top comments (9)

mattschwartz profile image
Matthew Schwartz

I agree with all except the last point. Access to jobs across the world brings more opportunities to developers. But it also allows employers to draw from a larger pool of candidates, many of whom will be willing to take a job for lower pay due to lower cost of living in their region. Competition is increased.

What many people forget is that salary, and often benefits, are negotiable. I suspect most people do a poor job of negotiating for their true worth. Find companies (or start your own!) that understand employee value and sell yourself.

nathanheffley profile image
Nathan Heffley

There are already lots of companies that are partially or fully remote that offer full salaries regardless of location. With more companies going remote, it makes sense that the number of companies willing to offer full pay will increase, especially as a developer's skill increases and they get higher skill jobs.

hrishikesh1990 profile image

True, companies are also able to draw from a larger pool. But I would personally have reservations working for a company that discriminates pay basis location. There's a lot of companies even now that promise equal pay for all regardless of location and would naturally attract more talent.

Of course, absolutely agree with the last part & nothing beats starting on your own :)

yellow1912 profile image

Yup. Wait till they get remote workers from cheaper countries. Oh wait, they are already doing that.

edo78 profile image
Federico "Edo" Granata

I've seen that a lot of time. Rarely it goes well for the companies.

nicolus profile image
Nicolas Bailly

For me it entirely depends on how you personally feel about working remotely : If you would rather keep working on site than keep the same pay to work remotely, then by all means ask for a raise (but also be prepared to keep working on site if your employer refuses).

If on the contrary you really like the idea of working remotely and would actually prefer it than working on site... Well it's a win win situation : You'll work from home and your employer will get more out of you !

As long as nothing is forced onto the employee (and I'm lucky to live in a country where you cannot enforce a pay cut or work from home without the employee's consent), I don't think there are any rules to follow : it's just a negociation that depends on the wishes and preferences of each individual.

darkwiiplayer profile image
𒎏Wii 🏳️‍⚧️

It could be argued that you save time by not having to go to work and back home. That can be easily refuted however, by the fact that people who live further away from work don't get paid more. For example, if bob walks 5 minutes to and from work everyday, bob would merely save 10 minutes per day, 50 minutes a week. Paying bob, say, 3 hours less per week, would mean he's losing a bit over 2 paid hours for nothing.

rinkattendant6 profile image

I disagree that remote work = more hours & more work done.

This might be true during normal times, but it is certainly untrue (at least for me) during COVID-19. At the moment, areas where I used to work remotely from (coffee shops, malls, transit station, other buildings at my workplace, etc.) are either closed or offer limited service. Even if they allowed people to sit there to work/eat/whatever, it would be less comfortable to do so during COVID-19 despite social distancing measures.

When I worked in the office, I had a ~45 minute commute by public transit (or 20 minutes by Uber). I did not mind that. Even if I didn't like the commute, at least I had a place to work from. I actually switched jobs internally a few weeks after the offices closed, and my new team tells me that I've been doing great, but it's been a giant struggle for me due to the lack of a physical work environment.

hrishikesh1990 profile image

That's quite unusual. Most people feel otherwise, myself included.

However, don't you have a home office setup?

I know normal remote work would involve us working out of a co-working space or coffee shop frequently (for me it is at least once a week). Despite that not being available, I am seeing higher productivity and so are most people (saying this basis multiple surveys I have come across + the one we conducted ourselves involving 892 people).