Would You Take a Pay Cut to Continue to Work From Home?

I've been talking to some peers at competitors and they have mentioned they are being forced back to the office, much to their displeasure.

I was wondering if you would take a pay cut to retain the increased standard of living you experience at home, e.g. decreased transport costs, lowered risk of flu, increased social life, increased leisure time, and more.

If you would accept a pay cut, how much would be acceptable? I'll let the mods determine whether they want to create a poll.

Disclaimer/Background: I'm both a businessperson and employee. I'm technically an intrapreneur at the moment. Undoubtedly I have seen some people exploit work from home, but for others it has increased productivity. The problem I foresee in growing the business I am part of (have equity), is who to cut and whether we instead keep them on but at a reduced pay packet. Ultimately, reduced pay may lead to better outcomes for the workers as they will have less expenses, otherwise we must let people go.

Basically I want to see what the waters would be acceptable to both employee and employer. A lot of the competition are currently making decisions and it seems like they are going down the path of forcing people back to the office to try and improve productivity, but I personally believe the habits and lost productivity from those workers may not ever return. What are your opinions?

Comments

  • +34 votes

    Poll?

    • +13 votes

      Poll?

      Nah, it’ll be pointless and seeking confirmation bias, just like most polls seen in OzB forums…

      Also, OP is measuring the wrong metric to determine justification to WFH.

      I'm both a businessperson and employee

      That speaks volumes on OP’s intentions. :)

      • +2 votes

        OP said he will leave whether to poll or not to the Mods. Thats not how it works. The person making the post selects a poll or not. Mods not going to be making polls.

        • +3 votes

          I'm technically an intrapreneur

          how do i become the latter.. ;/

  • +203 votes

    Why can't employers give staff more pay to account for the decreased expense of office hire and incentivise increased productivity?

    • +135 votes

      Don’t forget: you are saving your company money by working from home. They no longer have to maintain an office or desk for you. You’re saving them space in the parking lot as well. They don't have to buy you office equipment, office chairs, desks, landline phones, data SIMs, mobile phones etc.

      Don’t let them tell you that the benefits are only for you.

      • +69 votes

        Exactly this.

        They save on the office space, desk space, equipment, kitchen, tea/milk, electricity etc

        People also tend to work a little more at home in the sense that they don't really switch off from work.

        • -20 votes

          People at home have to pay their own heating and AC

          If liberals stay in power they would probably make change liability for people working at home to be liable for their workplace rather than their employer.

      • +10 votes

        Decreased electricity and water usage too.

        • +3 votes

          Yep. Things that you'll be paying more for if you work from home full time.

      • +53 votes

        Don't forget the most valuable saving, toilet paper

        • +6 votes

          Especially during pandemic times!

      • +4 votes

        Less bandwidth costs too.

        • +16 votes

          Probably not.

          Depending on industry, could be transferring large amounts of data between workers homes & the office/datacentre.

          Even without large file transfers, a lot of company phone & data usage would be internal (messages, email, phone calls). With everyone working from home, this would then need to travel via the internet connection. Some businesses may have found they needed to increase their bandwidth.

          And all that isn't even mentioning the added expense of all the VPN connections.

          • +2 votes

            @Chandler: Most businesses are moving to the cloud, potential savings on expensive fibre connections too

            • +12 votes

              @raging:

              Most businesses are moving to the cloud, potential savings on expensive fibre connections too

              That's not how it works. When your entire IT environment is hosted on somebody else' server/s in a remote location and you're accessing it through a CaaS (Computing-as-a-Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) platform (regardless of whether you're in the office or WFH) you need a much, much faster Internet connection in order to achieve the same kinds of throughput and latency you would have on an internal LAN operating at gigabit Ethernet speeds where your cable runs are measured in tens of metres typically and where your network traffic is not competing with the public traffic of the entire Internet to travel between your servers and clients. Gigabit cabling and networking hardware is comparatively dirt-cheap for an organisation to deploy compared to a gigabit Internet connection and/or dark (private) fibre WANs.

              It's actually one of the primary reasons why cloud integration in Australia saw a relatively slow uptake compared to the rest of the world (and proved very difficult to integrate into certain industries) as even commercial SMEs in urban locations typically needed to pay insane costs to get anything close to Gigabit fibre, up until very recently (and even now, it's usually reserved for large national and multinational organisations).

          • +1 vote

            @Chandler: Sure. So it is a pay cut for you then.

            •  

              @netjock: Haha… no.

              Whilst I was mentioning that bandwidth costs would likely increase, a lot of other costs would decrease.

              And at the end of the day, my wage is what they are paying me for my skills. Whilst yes, there are costs involved with my employment (rent, equipment, consumables, utilities, etc) would be taken into account when offering me said salary, I don't think it is fair for changes in those costs to affect my personal pay.

          • +1 vote

            @Chandler: I know, if only there was a high quality network of fibre optics… maybe make it National as well….

            • +1 vote

              @end255: maybe some catchy acronym to make sure it goes down well with kids

            •  

              @end255: Some form of high speed Broadband Network might suffice?

        •  

          Most businesses have unlimited data.

      • -15 votes

        Don’t forget: you are saving your company money by working from home.

        The savings are outweighed by the loss in productivity…

        • +16 votes

          My company has had increased productivity. Turns out not distracting your employees and micro-managing them makes them work harder.

          • +3 votes

            @Zephyrus: Agreed same and businesses doing Agile, if setup right, will see even more benefits!!

      • +23 votes

        Your not understanding how slow business is to change.

        Office space is leased at 7 years and longer, they wont be able to use those savings any time soon. (Also landlords are not negotiating on this)

        A percentage of employees are fully taking the piss working from home, and its hard to performance manage people remotely.

        We have quite a few employees only working for 3-4 hours a day getting paid full time. I'm not a manager just a colleague who gets extra work as these people are unavailable.

        We literally have people spending a few extra hours a day picking children up and dropping them off at school and not making up the hours. A lot of people have roles too where they are suppose to be available for calls etc, then they go "dark" between 8.30 - 9.30 and 3-4 forcing others to do their work.

        We have also had at-least one other employee start another job while still working for us, and just delivering significantly less and being available less.

        I don't want to go back full time, but its inevitable those taking the piss are going to ruin it for a majority.

        We also have a few employees on the other end, approaching burning out as they don't switch off at 5pm.

        • +15 votes

          so if they are taking the piss and you know it, get rid of them?

          • +5 votes

            @cacique: It's a somewhat arduous process to make sure you have evidence, documentation of all this stuff so you don't get hit with unfair dismissal on the other side too.

            • -2 votes

              @wackedupwacko: seem like u work for a large corp, which prob works people too hard, till they give up

        •  

          To add to this, the additional costs of having to provide employees with remote access to a host of applications they previously didn't (ie. Webex, terminal servers, VPN client, Mobile email, etc.), plus the need to provide IT equipment (like a laptop, port replicator, monitors) is a cost that hit many organistions quite hard.

        • +1 vote

          Adapt or die

        •  

          “Performance” manage, you mean micromanage.

        • +2 votes

          I am not quite sure how your organisation is okay with this if they and you already know they are only working "3-4 hours a day". They are contracted to work atleast 7.5 hours a day and not being available for a meeting once in a while is okay but doing it consistently is NOT okay and is against the contract. They have to be available unless there is a valid excuse and the manager is okay with it and it doesnt hurt the team.

          Its not the case where I am. Yes people are away to drop and pick up their kids but their availability is known at all times. They miss meetings once a while but its not acceptable if you miss them regularly. More than anything else, your manager needs to put down some ground rules to be able to work from home and the understanding should be that they are non negotiable.

          For me, we are going into work 2 days a week for now and I realise that I got much more done when working from home. Those are literally the two least productive days of the week for me.

        • +2 votes

          A percentage of employees are fully taking the piss working from home

          Do you have data showing the percentage has increased compared to office work?

          Plenty of people can spend all day in an office and do nothing. Not me, of course, but that guy across the corridor does. Yeah, him.

        •  

          I would suggest landlords would be more inclined to subletting to keep their tenant happy.

      • +7 votes

        Why do people think that suddenly they dont need to maintain a desk? You know what, they already have a lease on the office space, they already paid for the desk and all the equipment. Its not like it suddenly cost them less just because you are not using it.

        Its like people think that company just go 'ok, that person is working from home, we now can throw that desk out and save $X on rent per month'.

        • +2 votes

          Its like people think that company just go 'ok, that person is working from home, we now can throw that desk out and save $X on rent per month'.

          Yes, this is what some companies are doing. There's been a trend for a while of not having a fixed desk. Under this scheme, it's pretty easy to reduce office space. If you think only 50% of your workforce is likely to be in the office at once, you only need 50% of the desks & space.

          I still have my own desk at the office, but I will be extremely surprised if that's still the case when we next move premises.

        •  

          That's exactly what my company is doing. The lease was on about a three year cycle and it came up for renewal this year. By the time we go back to the office it will be a different, much smaller, office - probably not large enough for 100% of staff.

      •  

        Don’t forget: you are saving your company money by working from home. They no longer have to maintain an office or desk for you. You’re saving them space in the parking lot as well. They don't have to buy you office equipment, office chairs, desks, landline phones, data SIMs, mobile phones etc.

        In theory sure. Once you lease an office space you have to keep paying your landlords rent and other expenses. It's not like running an Airbnb.

    • +21 votes

      My partner's employer did exactly this, $1500p/yr to cover work from home expenses.

      No way I would take a pay cut, I'd just tell the employer to get stuffed and go find a job with a better one who values output rather than working location.

      When looking for a new job recently, I was considering ones that were 100% remote ongoing for less salary than other roles I looked at, but if my current employer tried to reduce my salary, I'd just leave. Maybe I have the benefit of working in an industry that it is not really at any risk of having job shortages for the foreseeable future/grew during COVID, and my viewpoint may be different if this wasn't the case. But generally, high performerss will always find better alternatives if you try and screw them.

    • -4 votes

      Because the staff did nothing extra to deserve more.

    • +2 votes

      @kanmen woah woah woah don't be silly now, passing on cost savings to employees in the form of higher wages? HAHAHAHA

    • +1 vote

      I agree with the increased productivity, many of our admin staff are happy to finish off a task instead of leave it for the following day since they no longer have to rush to catch a certain express train or bus time schedule..

    •  

      Eh, this tends to be short term savings, with out the office it makes it harder to mentor staff into senior positions and train new staff.

  •  

    Provided the productivity is there, it's potentially a win win for the employer isn't it? Can have a smaller office space so lower overheads and pay the employees less as they don't have to travel etc.

    Personally, I couldn't work from home full time but wouldn't mind being more flexible. Say every Friday or something at home and the rest in the office.
    If you had a long commute to work, it could definitely be a selling point.

    • +4 votes

      where I work we have found it isn't all win win. While we work from home and remote in to most of our clients and have remote meetings, that all works perfectly and saves them a heap. However the flip side is the company doesn't have people on the ground anymore to deal with ad hoc work, technical people aren't at the customer sites anymore so they aren't bringing the opportunities to the sales teams with the ad hoc requests customers tend to make while you are visible to them, which means a much higher sales investment for the same outcome. Where I work overall the costs are up not down, but so far they are remaining relatively flexible for how people want to work.

  • +35 votes

    Employers pay for the work to be done. If the same work is done, who cares where the employee did it? The pay should be the same regardless of how convenient it is for the employee.

    Otherwise you're gonna argue that you should pay the employee who lives next door less than the employee that has to come in by train to get to work.

    Now, you can entice your employer by agreeing to a pay cut if you wish to work from home, but I think the employer shouldn't be allowed to force an employee to do so.

    • +1 vote

      It’s a competitive market though. Those with mortgages in Melbourne will not like the fact that those in the country can now do the same job for less salary.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      • +3 votes

        On the other side of the coin. People with Melbourne mortgages can now move to a better location, and are not forced to live close to their workplace.

        •  

          See how low wages can get when people work from home and move overseas.

        •  

          Some people like to live close to family and amminities though. So it could be an interesting time for all those buying houses at record prices at the moment!

    •  

      And there in is the issue, assuming the job doesn't require in-person attendance I'd say if an office job is denied WFH status it's to do with the culture of the work place and nothing more. They are not setup nor encouraged to grade people upon performance above all else. From what I've seen it's just an old mentality about securing control rather than any tangible practical benifit.

      There's plenty of places which will allow it, I've been 100% WFH for 4 years now and as many people have found out more recently it's great.

    • +1 vote

      I find the entitlement of people really interesting with regards to working from home now.

      6 months into the pandemic some people I know who used to travel in 5 days a week (for their whole careers) and were made (with good reason) to WFH full time decided it was time to move rural as the world had changed and we would never be expected to be back in the office full time again. "I'll save hundreds of thousands purchasing a home there instead of inner burbs!"

      Our contracts often have our work location, it might even stipulate at times we may WFH, it may say we need to travel for work. It has terms of employment.

      I agree that productivity can increase with WFH, I enjoy a balanced few days at home, 2 in the office for social interactions and workshops, but if my employer decides that they want us back 4 or 5 days a week can I really say "nah I decided to move 2 hours away from the office, bad luck I'm not coming back?" Sure over time employers with more flexibility should attract more talent but I'm definitely struggling with the mentality that employers can't stipulate employment terms to some extent.

      • +1 vote

        I think you misread my post. I'm assuming you're directing your post to me as you're replying directly to it.

        I'm not saying that employers can't stipulate that you can't work from home, just that they can't force you to take a pay cut to do so.

        However if you're a new hire of course all that is basically something to negotiate on, but under no circumstances should an employer say "I need you to work from home now, and since it's more convenient for you (or insert any other reason) I'm going to pay you less".

        •  

          No apologies, I was agreeing with you and just adding that I'm seeing a lot of people making assumptions about their WFH rights and making large life choices such as moving more rural well before the dust has settled.

  • +2 votes

    If choosing an employer I would place being able to WFH a couple days a week above a slight pay difference. I would value it at maybe 5k or so a year for every day of the week from home.

  • +24 votes

    If work from home becomes permanent, there is no reason companies can replace their entire workforce with foreigners and pay them 10% what they would an Aussie employee.

    • -22 votes

      One reason. Accents

      • +7 votes

        Who cares if the company's accounting/IT/HR personnel have different accents? They have no customer contact.

          • +7 votes

            @Chchnu: You are not thinking like a business owner.

            The solution to the problem is not to replace them, it will be to replace you

            • +4 votes

              @mdavant: This guy gets it. You and your co-workers will be replaced with more offshore workers who can cope with accents.

      • +24 votes

        Every company I have worked for has had plenty of people with heavy accents - Australia has always had lots of immigrants and many of them have professional careers.

        Plenty of foreigners also speak excellent English, even from non-English speaking countries.

        People's accents is the last thing large companies are going to care about.

    • +13 votes

      I mean, you need skilled workers. There’s a reason that some foreign countries have much lower incomes than Australia, it’s because they’re much less productive.
      But hey, if you think you can outsource an entire workforce, I don’t think there’s anything stopping you now.

      • +2 votes

        not an entire workforce, but its already happening in IT, etc

        • +2 votes

          Outsourcing is here to stay but you have to understand, going via an outsourcing company is not like paying peanuts. For e.g. for T&M contracts, lets say a company X pays $400 a day for a junior developer to Company Y which isnt peanuts to be honest when you realise that, that junior developer knows nothing at all and is basically learning on the job and is getting paid for it. The company Y in turn is paying that junior dev approx $7000 a year. Thats how most outsourcing works.

        •  

          but its already happening in IT, etc

          yep and its causing a lot of productivity loss with your staff having to deal with a IT department that can't be hands and therefore learn themselves.

          My company is now a hybrid, with half the IT in India, who have turns coming to Sydney for 3month periods

          IT staff overseas can't/struggle to learn and improve their work as well. Not because they're incapable

      •  

        And you need to train and mentor a lot skilled workers, you can't do that from home.

    • +69 votes

      there is no reason companies can replace their entire workforce with foreigners and pay them 10% what they would an Aussie employee.

      They've been trying to do that in the IT industry for decades but it always backfires and inevitably ends up costing more in the long-term because the dirt-cheap outsourced labour from some far-flung Indian village is made up of candidates whose resumes consist of 100% lies (and most of them are interviewed over the phone), who need massive amounts of on-the-job training and assistance for months (from locally-based employees) to reach a level of competency equivalent to local workers and who still struggle with basic English/Western customs/culture shock and have trouble adapting to the corporate cultures of companies they have never set foot in.

      The quality of work and overall productivity always takes a nosedive when the companies that I've worked for in my IT career, attempted to pull this cliched stunt and the directors/CEOs end up realising how little effective control they have over their remote workforce and that any savings they've made in the short-term by laying off more expensive local workers are severely undercut in the long-term by the lack of reliable and consistent productivity.

      There is a growing IT industry trend in recent years of companies (especially software development firms and IT support services) replacing their outsourced workforce with local workers due to the massive headaches outsourcing caused for so long that senior leadership simply got fed up with it.

      These kinds of restructuring exercises are almost always the product of new management/directors coming into an organisation and attempting to aggressively slash expenditure for a quarter or two to make themselves look good by pointing to some increased figures on a spreadsheet and thus qualifying for some kind of bonus or pay increase, after which they will likely jump ship to another company to repeat the cycle when the costly consequences of their actions come back to bite the company in the ass.

      To be even more brutally honest, this problem also extends to supposedly "skilled" migrants coming to Australia with 457 visas and the the like who also turn out to have questionable fake degrees and resumes that HR simply don't know how to screen for, require excessive mentoring and training and are diametrically opposed to the cultures they find themselves in, which only creates more issues when they have to work in mixed teams and collaborate with others from different backgrounds (and I'm not even talking about Indians/South Asians here; one company I worked for had branches in Chile and the Chileans that we worked with had such a negative, hostile view of women in the workplace that we had to stop having any female employees collaborate on projects with them as the Chileans would flat out refuse to listen to them, refuse to let them speak and completely ignored any input they had, to the point that most of the female employees that worked with them were driven to tears in that environment and senior management refused to do much about it because expansion in the South American market was a key goal of theirs).

      • +13 votes

        100 % agree mate. First thing the company that acquired us did - replaced our offshore Manila customer service with onshore stuff. It truly is a competitive advantage these days to have onshore customer service.

        not against offshoring all together though, I believe it could work for short span projects, i.e. contract off some really manual tedious piece of work. Long term - never in my 15y IT career it did work well.

      • +4 votes

        Totally completely agree. Was going to reply to this thread with pretty much the exact same statement.

        Only further thing I will add, in my experience workers from different cultures tend to be good at a specific given task, but lack the “skill” to “understand” a problem and come up with a solution. Australians tend to be very good at seeing the big picture and improving a process, whereas in eastern culture this sort of behaviour is discouraged so they tend to not be good at it

        • +3 votes

          My long term IT dream is to be able to travel continually whilst doing remote Sysadmin work. I'd take a 15% pay cut to be able to work 100% remote long term. Rent's a shitload cheaper overseas

      •  

        Couldn't have put it better. Having worked for an outsourcing company this is how it works - the contracts are T&M (Time and Material), have 10 people work on the project and charge the client for 10 people, the fact is only 2 of those 10 are horses, the rest are just donkeys.

        The same is the case with our skilled visa's - a friend in Italy has been trying to come to Australia but does not have enough points - the guy is an excellent coder, very ethical with his work and in general, has a couple of patents to his name vs someone who has 10 years experience in an outsourcing company and therefore has "more experience" and therefore is more skilled for the government which is unfortunate to be honest.

    • +16 votes

      Not really. This assumes that the average Philippino/Indian is more competent than the average Aussie, at least on the subject of the Australian market. This isn't true. No partners (or customers) are going to work with a business that's run completely by overseas staff who usually produce sub-bar results.

      There's a reason that so many Aussie companies advertise the fact that they have a local call centre. People are frankly sick of communicating with broken English immigrants over a long-distance connection.

      • +7 votes

        I don't think language is the issue here. Philippinos and Indians have good command of English. While there may be some element of inadequate cultural and systematic understanding of the needs of customers here, more fundamentally, there's an implicit bias at play — I've encountered abysmal customer service with local call centres but I can't blame this on anything other than poor service whereas if I encounter the same abysmal customer service with a foreign call centre, I can conjure about a list of cultural, language, and racial blames on how they're not as good as Australian workers.

        You guys make it seem as if having a local call centre makes everything so much better. Sometimes, the main issue with call centres is the long waiting time. If hiring cheap foreign call operators mean shorter wait times for me, I'd rather have that than a handful of local call operators who take a long time to take my call.

    • +2 votes

      Would love to see the pitch for this to infrastructure companies. The first bridge built over remote desktop will be spectacular to behold.

      •  

        I know this comment was made in jest, but I do wonder how long until we have remotely controlled robots building our infrastructure!

    • +1 vote

      Pay peanuts, get monkeys. That's why.

  •  

    I guess once employee work from home, the employees are more likely be working as a contractor as the employer loses control over employees work. So pay structure might change.
    ATO has some info on this topic: Employee or Contractor

    • +2 votes

      The manager should be keeping the employee engaged with work and monitoring performance and timely completion of the work packages only. I see no correlation or cause and effect between WFH and contractor status. It doesn't change the employees duties or completion at all.

  • +5 votes

    They should give more pay instead because huge saving in office space rent.. or they can sell the space for millions.
    And save on electricity, computer monitor desk chair

    • -4 votes

      The business could make the same case and say that by working from home, they're saving you travel expenses every day. Why don't you return the favour and give the money you'd usually spend on petrol/train tickets to the employer?

      • +2 votes

        Because they pay me to deliver value to the company. If I wasn’t worth that much, why pay me anything to begin with?

        The only problem is I might become less competitive in the market. WFH opens up plenty of stay at home parents and foreign workers who could do my job that were previously not so much of an option. Which IMO is a good thing, especially highly skills mums who are overlooked for jobs because they don’t want to do 50 hours a week in the office + traveling.

        • -3 votes

          Because they pay me to deliver value to the company. If I wasn’t worth that much, why pay me anything to begin with?

          Who's to say they weren't paying that much to begin with because they knew you would incur travel expenses? Most salaries do come with a very small factor of travelling costs built in. So if you no longer have to incur those costs then it's reasonable for the business to ask for it back.

          • +2 votes

            @SlavOz: What? That's not true. In my industry (technology), salary never has any provision or factor for travel. I would be offering the same whether they live in Bendigo or Mornington.

          •  

            @SlavOz: Travel costs from home to work have always been seen as a cost for the employee. I can't charge them a taxi fee if the trains are down, I don't get less pay because I live near public transport.

            As someone who used to sometimes walk to work and only ever took public transport otherwise, I'm quite happy for them to start covering my bills for 8 hours a day instead if that's the case. They factored in the cost of supplying me a desk, office space, internet, power, water, bathrooms when they hired me, I'd like that back please.

      •  

        So a net zero sum game. Pay stays the same then.

    • +1 vote

      Unless you are renting desks in a shared office space, how does a company save space on rent? As if a landlord will suddenly negotiate less rent because some people are WFH.

    •  

      This is only a short term saving, having your work force limits a company ability to expand

  • +7 votes

    So you want to pay people less for probably more productivity (take into account how much office time is spent on useless chatter and walk ups interrupting focussed work).

    Righto.

    • +2 votes

      Probably more ??? … but it could be "probably less" ????

      These have already been tried & tested perhaps and its been shown not be be as effective as some of you here make it.

      The comments here of WFH are only one side of it. Remember, there is always two side to this.

      • +1 vote

        Evidence from the last year of working from home shows that on average an increase in productivity is observed for an organisation when working from home is adopted.

    • +18 votes

      This is why Australia is behind the curve and relies almost completely on foreign investments for innovation. Every failing business/industry is bailed out instead of being forced to adapt to a changing market.

      This is like saying we should loosen cigarette restrictions because the people who work for these companies have families too.

      • +3 votes

        relies almost completely on foreign investments for innovation

        Foreign investment yes. Innovation, no. There is no innovation. Only thing that we've seen is forefront in dodgy built apartments and smaller units that costs more.