There's no question that remote work is on the rise. A 2018 SimpleTexting survey found that search interest in work-from-home jobs has doubled since 2014, while search interest in remote jobs has tripled. Additionally, the average amount of time the U.S. employees work from home per day rose 22 percent between 2003 and 2016. However, the survey also reveals distressing statistic: Despite all the benefits of remote work for both workers and companies alike, remote workers often earn less than their in-office peers.
In fact, in-office workers earn more than remote workers in 11 of 14 professions shown in SimpleTexting's report. In-office client service directors, for example, earn more than $100k per year, while their remote counterparts don't even earn $90k. In-office developers earn $80k, while remote developers earn around $70k. And in-office customer service representatives earn close to $40k, while remote customer service reps earn less than $30k. In this report, teachers, tutors, and speech-language pathologists comprise the only professions in which remote workers pull in higher incomes.
We have theories for this remote work pay gap. Perhaps employers justify paying remote workers less because remote workers often have fewer work-related expenses, saving money on transportation, food, clothing, etc. Perhaps employers are adjusting remote salaries to non-urban costs of living. Or perhaps employers assume employees would take lower salaries in exchange for flexibility (and they'd be correct in that assumption). And there's more bad news: Concurrent with this remote pay gap is a remote gender pay gap, according to a recent study by AND CO and Remote Year, which found that 13 percent of male remote workers but just 8 percent of female remote workers earn more than $100k per year.
Flexibility shouldn't be a trade-off with salary. Employees should earn as much working remotely as they would working in-office. "If you want to maintain a good working relationship with your remote workforce, then you need to give them incentive to stay loyal to your company objectives," HR Knows founder Tess C. Taylor writes for PayScale. "Remote workers deserve fair salaries and perks as well as regular recognition and support to reach their career dreams. Make sure you give back what remote employees give to your company with great earning opportunities."
Happily, some companies are already offering remote work salary parity. "If you work remote or you work from home, that doesn't affect the pay range at all," a Sodexo recruiter tells FlexJobs. "There is absolutely no difference in the pay or the benefits, whether you're a teleworker or a non-teleworker," says a USDA recruiter. And a PricewaterhouseCoopers recruiter thinks along the same lines: "Whether you're in-office or remote, total compensation is based on the position as well as performance."
Other companies would be well-advised to follow suit. Given how much modern-day workers are demanding flexibility—especially younger generations of workers — it's best to incorporate structured and penalty-free flexibility into your employer brand now so you don't miss out on top talent before flex becomes non-negotiable.