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How Salaries Are Changing Due to Remote Work and Covid-19

2021 March 25 16:37 GMT-06:00

100 dollar bill and getting paid COVID

Coronavirus and its shelter-in-place measures forced companies to experiment with remote work. During this experiment, companies found that the model worked better than anticipated. Employees liked it too. The mutual benefit to employers and employees is fostering a push for remote work that continues to work in favor of both parties. As work from home continues in major cities, the amount of data points for remote work is only increasing. 

Before coronavirus, remote work seemed like an idea rather than a company-wide model. Coronavirus proved businesses wrong as productivity increased. Global Workplace Analytics, a company looking for cutting edge work models, anticipates that 56 percent of positions in the United States are capable, at least partially, of remote work. The obvious exceptions being forms of manual labor. The report states, "For those who were new to remote work until the pandemic, we believe there will be a significant upswing in their adoption. Our best estimate is that we will see 25-30 percent of the workforce working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021."

This is a significant change in the way we work. Will there be changes to salaries as we remote work becomes more widely accepted?

Salaries Didn’t Change from Forced Remote Work

Coronavirus caused millions of people to complete their work at home while their children were also at home due to school closures. The situation was hardly ideal for anyone. An argument for no change in salaries as remote work becomes normalized is that salaries didn't change as work shifted away from the office space. Most reductions in hours were a result of the economic effects of the pandemic. Most major tech companies, the ones we use daily, are still working from home even six months after required remote work began. 

Tech companies are the leaders in the acceptance of remote work since most of their work is done on computers. Industry leaders like Twitter and Facebook are working to transition significant portions of their workforce to remote work. You can join the ranks at a tech company by learning to code for free. At the moment, salaries have remained unchained, but Facebook will change pay for employees who have moved to cheaper locations. 

Location, Location, Location

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to Silicon Valley and an exorbitant cost of living. Economically conscious employees left the Bay Area as companies continually pushed back "return to office" dates and announced that employees could work remotely 100 percent of the time. Facebook has said it will change salaries for employees who move out of the Bay Area. Salaries will switch to a pay scale that reflects the cost of living in their new location. Although most employees believe the pay rate should be the same as long as productivity remains constant, most also believe that location-based pay is the fairest alternative to change. 

This isn't a Facebook invention. Companies have been doing it before remote work existed. Government agencies also have pay scales that increase employee pay if employees live in high-cost living areas. 

Adopting remote work will help new grads across the country with their new bachelor's degrees in computer science. They will be able to land jobs that don't require them to move across the country and build a new life from scratch just for employment. Appropriate salaries based on their location will help.

People Want to Work from Home

Remote work is not just desirable to employees. They want it so bad that up to a third would take a cut in their salary for an option to work remotely, according to surveys from Global Workplace Analytics. That is a strong stance from employees who typically want raises every year. It seems the snack bar, free lunches, and unlimited coffee don't hold a candle to rolling out of bed and logging into Slack or firing off emails. 

As we start to come out of the effects of coronavirus and more companies return, or don't return in some cases, to the office, employees are going to look for the opportunity to work from home. If their current employer doesn't offer remote options, those who crave work from home will be handing in their two-week notice.


There is no denying that remote work is here to stay. Companies and employees will find a way to make it work and still agree to fair compensation. 

Artur Meyster

Written by Artur Meyster

Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.