A $30K raise or remote work forever? Employees want remote

Employees from leading companies weighed in on a recent survey. Here’s what it means for HR leaders.
By: | June 14, 2021

Employees at some of the biggest and most well-known companies in the United States say they would choose working from home over a hefty pay raise—the latest evidence of the popularity of work-from-home benefits that has big implications for HR and company leaders.

According to a survey of 3,000 workers from companies including Google, Amazon and Microsoft by professional network Blind, 64% said they would choose a permanent work-from-home option over a $30,000 pay raise.

The number is even higher for some companies: 71% of Airbnb, 81% of Lyft and 89% of Twitter professionals, for instance, prefer permanent work from home over a compensation increase. A whopping 100% of Zillow Group professionals say they would choose permanent work from home over a raise.

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Out of the roughly 45 companies represented in the Blind data, only two companies saw more employees choose the $30,000 over working from home: 53% of JPMorgan Chase workers would choose the money (versus 47% who would pick the work-from-home option), and 58% of Qualcomm employees would take the money (versus the 42% who said they would choose the remote work option).

The results come as scores of research point to employee angst, anxiety and reluctance to return to the workplace nearly 18 months after most office workers were sent home to work remotely because of COVID-19.

Surveys have found that aside from concerns about COVID-19 exposure and risk, employees largely don’t want to head back into the office because of work-life balance and caregiving concerns. Furthermore, employees are eager to keep their own schedules and to cut down on commuting time. In fact, one recent survey from FlexJobs goes as far as saying that 58% of workers say they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position.

Related: Requiring employees to return to the office? Get ready for them to quit

Although working remotely was a desired benefit for workers pre-pandemic, the massive adoption of remote work due to COVID-19 proved the experiment largely worked well for both employers and employees. Consequently, as many employers look at bringing their workers back into the office, scores of employees don’t want to return.

Kathy Gardner of FlexJobs

“Employers should absolutely evaluate their workforce post-pandemic with open eyes about what an effective business model could look like for them,” says Kathy Gardner, remote work expert at FlexJobs, a career site. “Over the last year, companies have experienced what remote work can do for their business strategy, their operations and their employees.”

In recent weeks, some employers have announced they will embrace flexible schedules. Software giant SAP, for instance, just announced a flexible working policy for all of its 100,000 workers going forward. Pandemic and beyond, SAP employees will be able to work from home, the office or anywhere else, and will be able to set flexible schedules. Other companies are embracing hybrid models, where employees may only come into the office a couple of days a week.

But 100% remote work continues to be the most sought-after type of job flexibility for employees because of its far-reaching benefits, Gardner says.

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“Remote workers enjoy better work-life balance, reduced stress and improvements in personal relationships, as well as cost and time savings,” she says. “Remote and flexible work has tremendous benefits for employers when done well. Companies with flexible and remote work programs see increased retention and reduced turnover, improved productivity and efficiency, a larger and more diverse candidate pool, reduced operational and real estate costs and a reduced environmental impact.”

The research indicates HR leaders might want to reconsider their plans or risk losing employees.

“Companies that refuse to adapt to remote and hybrid workforces will absolutely lose out on talent,” Gardner says.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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