Nearly Half of Employers Want to Tie Pay to Work Location. Is Remote Work Still Worth It?

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KEY POINTS

  • Remote work is very popular with Americans, and employers are taking notice, with nearly half of those surveyed by Payscale hoping to tie compensation to location for a distributed workforce.
  • But even with a pay cut, remote work is worth it for the positive financial impact it might have otherwise.
  • Working remotely can also give you a better work-life balance and eliminate the stress of commuting.

Working remotely is still worth it, for a number of reasons.

As far as I'm concerned, one good thing that has been spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic of the last three years has been the widespread rise of remote work. I am perhaps feeling the effects more acutely than those who could work remotely before the world shut down in spring 2020, however. I changed careers in part because of the pandemic and went from being completely location-based to now working (and living) wherever I want.

I'm not alone in being pleased with this turn of events. Zippia research from last year noted that 68% of Americans would prefer to work fully remote, and at least 23% of those surveyed would take a 10% pay cut to be able to do it indefinitely.

Employers are also taking notice of the trend. Payscale's 2023 Compensation Best Practices Report noted that 48% of organizations surveyed are considering changing compensation based on geographical location of employees. This number was 40% in 2022. This could mean that employees who live in less-costly areas could be paid less than their colleagues who live in expensive ones. Doing the same job for less money just because of where you live isn't fair, right? Well, let's take a look at a few reasons why remote work is likely still worth it -- even if you have less money coming into your checking account as a result.

Working remotely can save you money

While you may be spending more on your utility bills since you have to keep your home comfortable during hours you may previously have been working in an office, think of all the other money you're probably saving. That expensive suit-and-tie wardrobe is likely a thing of the past, as is paying for lunch every day (or even a few times a month; no one wants to brown-bag it every single day, especially if you have lunch options aplenty near your office). You're also saving money on gas and wear and tear on your car, or on the expense of public transportation.

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Working remotely can be good for your health

Speaking of that commute, if it was a source of stress for you, remote work is likely a breath of fresh air. Having that extra time in the morning and evening can also translate to more sleep, being able to prepare and consume healthy meals at home, and possibly having time to exercise. After all, the average remote worker saves 72 minutes per day, and you can use that time to actively improve your health if you so choose.

Working remotely can mean better work-life balance

If you're juggling your job alongside a spouse, kids, or both, it's likely that remote work can make it easier to balance all the competing pressures on your time and energy. It likely won't save you money on childcare, but it could open the door to more and better time with your kids when you're not working. And some remote jobs are flexible, meaning that you could conceivably design your own schedule that benefits your life and the people you love most.

Crunch the numbers

If you're still doubting whether remote work for less pay is a good deal for your life and your finances, sit down and try to estimate your cost savings on your commute, work wardrobe, and other tangible expenses of working from an office. It might be harder to quantify intangible things like work-life balance and better health, but these are also important and worth considering.

None of this is to say that you should accept a salary that is insultingly low or not enough for you to live on (and meet your financial goals) just for the chance to work remotely. We are in a historically tight labor market, so if you want to work remotely and your current employer won't go for it, spiff up your resume, reach out to your contacts, and see if you can make it happen somewhere else.

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