When it comes to paying remote workers, some companies are still getting it wrong


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In a time when employees are leaving companies that don’t put their best interests first, you can still see some employers continuing to make all the wrong choices.

Most companies have responded positively to workers’ desire to spend less time in the office and have accepted that the value of their employees has little to do with where they choose to do their jobs. In fact, some of the highest paying tech jobs are now being offered as remote positions, with companies realizing that in order to hire the developers they need, flexibility must be a prerequisite.

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The new work rules

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Airbnb, for example, recently announced its new “work from anywhere” (or WFA) policy. Company employees are free to work from home or in the office, with no change in their pay.

SEE: Is remote work here to stay? The data might surprise you

Airbnb staff can even work while traveling, with the company saying it will work harder to ensure work remains coordinated and keep the culture and social connectedness alive through regular meet-ups.

The company describes its new WFA policy as “one of the most flexible work policies in the world.” There’s a considerable splash of marketing hyperbole here, of course, but it’s a solid example of a forward-thinking company that has accepted that the only way forward is to embrace flexible working as the new standard model.

Not all employers take such an approach. A number of tech companies, including Facebook and Google, are allowing staff to move but are also adjusting salaries downward.

Office work has its good sides. This can promote collaboration and innovation, help improve morale and a collective sense of purpose, and foster a sense of belonging that is difficult, if not impossible, to recreate through Slack channels and Zoom calls (which, according to studies, actually do more harm to productivity than good).

But surveys have repeatedly suggested that remote work done correctly can boost productivity and engagement, as well as bring significant wellbeing benefits through better work-life balance. Still, there are downsides: working remotely might make you more productive, but there’s at least the suggestion that it might also make you less innovative.

Whether or not you believe that the best work happens in the office, at home, or a mixture of the two is irrelevant.

Employees should be paid for their impact on the business, not for where they choose to do their work.

Is someone who has to endure a tiring and expensive commute likely to be more efficient and focused than someone who logged on much more relaxed from home? For many knowledge worker jobs, the answer is probably no.

TO SEE: Remote work vs office life: Lots of experiences and no easy answers

For roles where management sincerely believes that being physically present in the office is so much more valuable, bosses should be able to explain why — and back it up with metrics. Putting some sort of price tag on productivity and innovation would force many managers to rethink their approach (and not just to remote workers).

Otherwise, companies that treat workers differently because they decide to improve their work-life balance will likely find that any money “saved” from the pay cut goes directly to recruitment efforts as they go. employees leave, leaving them with a bigger – and more expensive – problem to solve.


ZDNet’s Monday morning opener is our first tech release of the week, written by members of our editorial team. We are a global team, so this editorial is published Mondays at 8:00 a.m. AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00 p.m. Eastern time on Sundays in the US and 10:00 p.m. GMT in London.



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