Remote Workers Enjoy Higher Salaries. But Why?

We think of remote work as a convenience benefit, but a new study shows those who work from home can also make more, as well. It’s yet another reason to ask to work remotely.

A wide-ranging Owl Labs study on remote work found that on-site work is more common among those who make less. Up until $75,000 in annual income, and on-site work outpaces remote work; for those professionals making $25,000 to $49,999 annually, on-site work is almost twice as popular as remote employment.

Beyond $75,000 in annual income, those numbers flip dramatically. The chart below shows the reported income of on-site and remote workers; once the $75,000 threshold is hit, remote work becomes far more popular. (Owl Labs notes that it categorizes remote workers as someone who works remotely “at any frequency.”)

As Owl Labs notes, about half of all remote workers work remotely full-time, with an additional 28 percent doing so one to three times weekly. Overall, 30 percent of respondents say they work remotely full-time, and 18 percent do so one to three times per week; 38 percent of survey participants never work remotely.

We don’t need to look much further than the Dice Salary Survey to see why this is important for technologists. The average tech pro salary hovers around $93,000 per year, well within this study’s parameters for the popularity of remote work. Owl Labs reports 18 percent of remote workers in its study are in “facilities, operations, and IT.” An additional 14 percent say they’re in “customer support” roles, which also overlaps tech jobs. Furthermore, seven percent are in “product or engineering” roles.

The reasons given for working remotely aren’t new: Better work-life balance, increased productivity and the ability to focus better, and avoiding unnecessary commutes all rank highly. A separate study from AirTasker underscores these points. It finds remote employees save roughly $4,500 per year in fuel costs, and have about 400 additional hours per year in “free time” compared to their office counterparts.

We can’t say working remotely means you’ll earn more, because salary is (and should be) job-dependent. What we will speculate is this study probably reflects employers trusting higher-paid professionals more, which allows them the flexibility to work remotely. Owl Labs says those who work remotely feel more trusted, and there is an increased percentage of remote professionals who have been in their position longer when compared to on-site professionals. As Owl Labs says: “This may be a reflection of the fact that some employees may only be able to work remotely once they’ve been in their position and built team-wide trust over a period of time.”