March 16, 2021
New research has revealed that three quarters of UK office workers would accept – or have already accepted – a pay cut in return for completely remote working. Respondents to the poll said they would be happy to take an average of a 14% pay cut if it meant securing remote working in their current role, allowing them to continue working from home or from anywhere once pandemic restrictions have been lifted. The average UK salary at present is £30,472, so a 14% cut would equate to around £4,266 each year on average per person.
The research was carried out by OnePoll and 27% of those in the poll said they would accept a pay cut of between 15% and 20%, and 26% said they would be willing to agree to a pay cut of more than 20% in order to be able to work remotely.
This demand for remote working obviously comes as a result of everyone working from home for the best part of a full year thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions as a result of this. Now, many office workers who may previously have had little or no experience of working from home have had a long period of time in which to experience this and many have found they far prefer it to working in a traditional office setting.
There are many upsides to working remotely, such as not losing time commuting, no commuting costs, having more time for family life and the ability to improve the work/life balance. This is thought to be the main driver behind people’s willingness to agree to a lower salary in order to secure this.
Before home working became the default due to the pandemic here in the UK, many organisations were simply unwilling to consider the possibility of having employees work from home some or all of the time. Many felt – and possibly still do – that team members wouldn’t be as productive when working from home and that their work would suffer as a result.
The overnight change to working from home for the vast majority of the UK meant that organisations were forced to facilitate this in order to keep operations running. It meant adapting, making changes and placing far more reliance on technology than ever before.
Organisations who didn’t have the necessary technology had to invest in the right equipment and systems and create new processes for everyday work in order to continue running.
The right technology allows employees to benefit from the same secure digital workspace that they would traditionally only ever have experienced in the workplace. Technology allows team members to communicate effectively, remain productive, stay engaged and perform their roles to the same level as they would be able to in a traditional office setting.
As an employee, as yourself whether you’d really be willing to take a pay cut in return for permanent home working? It may be that you would gladly take a pay cut as the fact you won’t need to pay high commuting costs will negate the lower salary. Or, it could be that you’d be less willing as your commute costs are low so the salary reduction will mean you have to tighten your wallet or purse strings.
Many employees also crave the social interaction that comes with working in an office. Things like popping out for lunch with colleagues, chatting about your weekend plans whilst making a coffee and bouncing ideas off each other are important to many. For some, this simply can’t be replaced with virtual interactions and this is a large part of the reason for the increase in mental health issues whilst people have been forced to work from home.
For some organisations, having employees work from home full time is something they’d now be comfortable with having experienced it for many months over the past year and have seen that it works. Other organisations may, however, feel that remote working hasn’t been as successful for them and there may be many different reasons for this – poor communication, lack of proper technology, leaders who don’t support this way of working and much more.
For many organisations, an approach that involves some days working in the office environment and some days working from home may be the best option and one they are most comfortable with.
For organisations who are considering offering pay cuts in return for guaranteed home working this raises many questions…
Should salaries and potential pay cuts be determined by where someone lives and the cost of living there? For example, someone living in London has far higher living costs than someone living in Aberdeen or Manchester. Or should it be the case that all employees in the same roles are paid the same and/or accept the same pay cut based on where the organisation’s headquarters or the branch they’re affiliated with is located? Or should team members be paid based on how much value they contribute to the organisation? There’s so much to consider and no real right or wrong way to approach this.
Having employees work from home is something, but having employees work remotely from anywhere in the world is another. If organisations decide that their employees can work from anywhere in the world, this can result in many complications. For example, if a team member chooses to relocate permanently and work from another country, this can complicate tax payments and create some major headaches for both HR and finance departments.
And, if organisations decide they’ll compensate staff based on where they live, how does that then work if an employee decides to subsequently relocate to another location where the cost of living is far higher or lower than where they currently are?
Organisations also now need to consider how their remote working policies going forward will affect staff retention and attracting potential new candidates.
For many, full time office working is now a thing of the past and organisations who aren’t willing to allow full or part time remote working may suffer. They may see staff leaving for other roles where remote working is allowed and encouraged, and talent pools may become far smaller as many don’t want to agree to full time office working.
The talent pool will widen exponentially for companies who choose to make remote working possible for their employees. Instead of being limited to choosing from a talent pool of people located up to, for example, 50 miles from the office, instead, organisations will be able to hire employees from all across the globe. This makes it far easier to hire better and more valuable employees than ever before.
Organisations now have difficult decisions to make about whether allowing employees to work remotely is worth it. Is it worth it for every employee to be able to work remotely, or is it only worth it for really ‘valuable’ employees, and how would this be decided upon?
There are so many factors to consider and so many potential challenges for HR that for many organisations it may simply be easier to keep salaries the same if they choose to switch to full time remote working.
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