Would technologists living in the country’s biggest tech hubs—including New York City, Silicon Valley, and Seattle—take a pay cut in order to relocate? As more companies in those localities enable their technologists to work remotely, the collective willingness to take a reduction in salary is rapidly becoming a big deal.
Firms such as Facebook are letting their technologists pick up and move anywhere they want—with the warning that, should those employees move to an area with a lower standard of living, their salary will be reduced. Many technologists have pushed back against the idea of cuts; one anonymous employee at Hulu told Blind, which anonymously surveys the tech industry about various issues, that:
“That old way of thinking needs to die because it exploits labor. The employee’s labor provides the same value regardless of working location. The circumstances changed, so we need to force things to change as well. Don’t accept a pay cut for changing your location. Ask the company tough questions. Is my value to the company less if I live in North Carolina or Colorado? If they won’t budge, quit.”
Nonetheless, it seems that a subset of technologists are indeed willing to take a pay cut if it means they can keep their current job and move away from an ultra-expensive tech hub. According to Blind’s recent survey of 2,861 technologists, 32 percent would be willing to relocate with a pay cut of some sort. Here’s how the numbers break out for the nation’s three largest tech hubs:
That’s pretty stunning, but it’s also not the whole story. When asked how deep a pay cut they’d be willing to take, very few were willing to face more than a 10 percent reduction in pay, and virtually none could see taking a cut of more than 20 percent. In other words, a not-insignificant percentage of technologists who take a lighter paycheck in order to be able to work where they want—but they’re unwilling to face truly deep cuts.
And why should they? As the anonymous Hulu employee pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how technologists can remain incredibly effective at their jobs even if they’re working from a home office as opposed to their regular desk. If there’s no decrease in performance, and their team is communicative and productive, and their company continues to meet its deadlines and deliverables, it’s hard to argue that a cut is warranted. (There are companies that argue the whole idea of remote work is a bad one—hi, Netflix!—but that’s another story entirely.)
Blind’s data is reinforced by Dice’s own surveys of technologists, which have shown that a substantial percentage are unwilling to take a pay cut in order to work remotely:
Of course, it’s important to remember that, while working from home has some advantages (including the ability to lock down for long stretches of productive time), technologists of all experience and skill levels need to be aware of burnout. Remote workers must keep to a schedule, make sure their personal needs are met, and ensure that they’re communicating frequently with their team; that way, they can prevent overwork and isolation.