Employees Resist Idea of Trading Pay for Remote Work

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More workers are willing to consider moving as long as their employers offer reasonable remote-work arrangements, and many companies are open to the idea of such a distributed workforce. However, employees aren’t willing to trade compensation for location. In other words: If they move, a pay cut’s not part of the discussion.

A study by Robert Half found that both businesses and employees are thinking a lot about relocation now that the Covid-19 pandemic has made remote work a more tangible idea for a variety of reasons. More than half of the workers surveyed, 51%, said they’d consider moving to a different city long-term remote work arrangements were in place.

Businesses and employees are both thinking more about work getting done in distant locations. They don't agree on what it means for pay. #HR #HRTech @roberthalf Click To Tweet

Meanwhile, in a separate poll, a number of HR managers suggested companies are open to the idea of employees working from anywhere. Fifty percent said their organization has allowed current staff to relocate temporarily, while 38% said their employer’s supportive of permanent moves.

Employer Advantages

Over the summer, Facebook and Twitter got some (more) attention for their decisions to cut pay for employees who relocated outside their San Francisco Bay home turf. Other firms, like Reddit, said they’d keep pay as it was in those situations.

Meanwhile, CNBC reported that 56% of tech professionals said they wouldn’t move if their pay was cut. That might sit just fine with employers. Recruiters say that by adopting the idea of a widely dispersed workforce—specifically, getting comfortable with the idea of hiring the right employees from anywhere in the world and connecting them through videoconferencing and other collaboration technologies—employers gain access to a more dynamic pool of talent and can trim less-than-strong employees from their headquarters locations.

Before the pandemic, a job’s location was a key factor in where people chose to live, said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. Now, however, their experience with working from home has led many workers to think about moving for purely quality of life reasons.

Workers like the idea of moving for several reasons: For 37%, it’s a change of scenery. For 22%, it’s a lower cost of living. Whatever their thinking, 75% of professionals wouldn’t be willing to take a pay cut in their current job if they moved.

That’s causing many companies to rethink their approach to pay. According to the HR managers, 74% of employers are determining salary for relocating staff by the company office location, while 23% are setting it by the employee’s new location. Only 3% haven’t made a decision yet.

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