If You’re Working Remotely Can That Change Your Pay?

Man working on laptop in cabin

With remote work on the rise, discussion is buzzing about whether it is fair to reduce the salaries of workers who live in areas with a lower cost of living.  Employee A in Washington, DC will have significantly higher mortgage or rental rates than Employee B who lives in a rural area.  Both employees contribute the same value to the team.  Is it fair to reduce employee B’s salary because of their lower living expenses?  With the flexibility in work from home options it is important to understand whether your salary would remain the same if you were in office. A salary takes into consideration things like cost of living based on the metro that you are in.  A lot of remote workers have been relocating to cities with lower costs of living.  If you’re considering this for yourself, here is how and if it can affect your pay.

Benefit to Employees

Working remotely can save you money.  You have reduced transportation and vehicular expenses.  For those who live in major cities, the cost of public transportation and parking garages can be significantly high.  Parking garages in Washington DC are close to $200 per month depending on where you’re parking.  If you commute via public transportation metro passes can range between $80 to over $100 per month. If you use your personal vehicle to commute and you start working from home, you’d be saving on gas and maintenance repairs that come because of wear and tear on your vehicle. In addition to transportation expenses, you may also cut some costs when it comes to food.  Working from home you’re not as tempted to forgo your meal prep and eat out for lunch with your coworkers because you can cook your own meals at home. You may also skip out on that morning or mid-day caffeine pick me up that you need to push through at the office. An average coffee order is at least $5.  Multiply that by 5 days a week every week and you will have a nice chunk of change left over in your pocket.  How many times have you been late because you couldn’t figure out what to wear to the office?  Not only will you save time in the morning picking out an outfit, but you may also save on dry cleaning expenses when you work from home.  Most employers are relaxed on the work from home office attire and you only need to be presentable from the waist up if you are on a zoom call so spending a lot of office attire isn’t a requirement when you are in the comfort of your home office.

Benefit to Employers

Working remotely doesn’t just benefit the employee.  According to a Stanford study, remote workers are more focused and productive.  This can be attributed to the fact that they are cutting out their commute as well as a variety of other factors.  This can also result in less time off for sick leave and an increase in the number of hours put into working versus their colleagues that report to the office every day. Flexible office options can also save the employers money.  They can reduce real estate costs pertaining to office space such as cubicle areas, furniture, computers, and other office necessities.  Employers open themselves to a wider talent pool because they are now accepting workers that are outside of their usual recruiting radius.  Most remote workers are happier which helps in retention costs as well.  With all these savings, there is a strong basis of an argument to pay remote workers more.  What may not reflect in a dollar amount with some companies are reflected in their benefits packages.  Some companies offer gym membership reimbursement, 100% employer covered healthcare, home office stipends as well as wellness perks for their remote workers.

It is safe to say that your salary will be dependent on your companies polices.  If you can justify a higher salary, then you should negotiate one.  There is always a risk of your salary being reduced due to your ability to work from home and it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons to determine if the position is a right fit for you.  What you may “lose” in an upfront salary could come back ten-fold in benefits and time.  

This article was written by Launa.
Launa is a writer/actress currently living in the DC area. She loves performing, traveling, trying new restaurants and mommy-daughter time with her baby girl. If you need talent or content for your project you can reach Launa at contactlauna@gmail.com.

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