Would You Take a $30k Bump in Pay to Give Up Working From Home?

Last year, when the country was firmly in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, technologists indicated in survey after survey that they would take a pay cut in order to work remotely on a permanent basis.

The sentiment made sense: After all, if you could move from an area with a high cost of living (such as Silicon Valley or New York City) to a cheaper one, the resulting cost savings would mitigate any salary cuts. In October 2020, Blind (which anonymously surveys technologists about a range of issues) found that 32 percent of technologists would be willing to take a pay cut of some sort for remote work.

The size of that cut, however, is up for debate. Dice ran a Sentiment Survey throughout the summer of 2020 and found that roughly a third of technologists wouldn’t be willing to take any pay cut in exchange for permanent remote work; of those willing to take a pay reduction, few were willing to go above 5 percent or 10 percent.  

With vaccination rates on the rise, companies are debating how to best bring people back to the office—meaning that the debate over remote work and pay is coming up yet again. In its most recent survey, Blind decided to frame the question in an interesting and potentially more provocative way: Would you prefer to work from home permanently, or a $30,000 pay increase that meant you had to come into the office?

According to the data, some 64 percent of technologists would take permanent work-from-home instead. As you can see from the following chart, the majority of employees at some of tech’s major companies would opt for remote work over the cash:

Of course, surveying employees at the tech giants may skew things a little, since many of those companies pay outside compensation. “My current TC is 350k in Southern California. People have asked me if I’d move to the bay if I could double my salary and I probably wouldn’t even move to the bay for one mil TC,” one anonymous Google employee wrote. “[Two] mil TC and I guess I kind of would have to but I’d prob hate my life until early retirement. Permanent WFH worth A LOT more than 30k.”

Even those who aren’t holding themselves to such lofty salary goals might argue that the money and time associated with commuting, plus other expenses such as child care, would eat into that hypothetical $30,000. 

While technologists with a bit of tenure at some of the nation’s largest tech companies can make several hundred thousand dollars per year, the average salaries for many technologists are far lower, according to the most recent edition of the Dice Salary Report. For example, software developers made an average of $111,297 in 2020. In that context, $30,000 is quite a bit of money; you could see why more than a few technologists would opt for that over working remotely on a permanent basis. 

24 Responses to “Would You Take a $30k Bump in Pay to Give Up Working From Home?”

  1. I am going to retire at the end of the year. If this means going back to my previous state of being able to WFH when I needed to (weekend work, days when I have doctor’s appointments, etc) I’d take $30K for the rest of the year, or even a prorated $30K.

  2. Nope. $30K a year does not equal out to the time spent in traffic, away from family, and the ability to move where ever whenever, gas, tires, oil for a car, public transportation might help with that, but I’m not in a place that has that. On top of that $30K can mess up your taxes and you won’t even see it.
    A million reasons for why that would never equal out.

  3. People who now expect to work from home full-time and move away from high cost of living areas to low cost ones should expect to have their salaries adjusted accordingly. No reason to compete like crazy when there is no geographic limitation for your worker pool. Excess supply lowers costs. ECON 101

  4. Isn’t it cheaper for companies to have their employees work from home? They use their electricity and water and not the companies. If the commute wasn’t bad, I would definitely take the bump and then start looking for a remote job with a salary based on my current salary.

  5. I calculated at one point that I’d spent over two years of work hours in traffic on a particularly congested 9 mile part of my daily commute over 15 years only I was never paid for it. Why would anyone want to go back to that and take the tax hit for the $30k? Corporations are just looking at the loss of their real estate holdings to warehouse workers where their workers are exhausted and less productive. The dangling carrot of cash does not compare to quality of life that many have experienced in WFH positions.

  6. Chuck Tudor

    Most of the people I work with are scattered across the time zones and they are mostly remote.
    For me to go back to the office for any reasonable amount of money would be ridiculous for me and the company. But that doesn’t mean that the company won’t want me on-site.

  7. I worked from home in IT from 2008-2014 (when they laid me off); I think they should pay 30K more for working at home. The companies save ton’s on costs of offices,power property tax maintenance costs. There was nothing I couldn’t do short of physically touching the h/w (we had on site trained hands for that) I couldn’t do. The only things needed are Cell service and high speed internet.

  8. Let’s put it this way: Before Covid, I was already doing all my work at home. To get me to accept any position, anywhere, the employer will have to take on the expense to provide a car and a driver to transport me daily. Providing me with a car, or the funds to buy a car, would be unacceptable. Providing me with an Uber-allowance wouldn’t work. And the employer has to do all the legwork. After those requirements are met, then I can also consider the bump in pay. If you want to get my attention, pay-off my student loan debt in it’s entirety. It’s approx. $150K.

  9. Given that the cost of everything has gone way up, we should be demanding that our pay increase accordingly. The cost of a home, the cost of gas, the cost of groceries etc means we should be looking for a 10% pay bump while continuing to work mostly remote!

  10. Why are companies so fixated on having employees back in the office if they can work just as well from home? The underlying motivation here needs to be addressed. Do companies feel like that have more control over employees when they physically can tell them where to work? Is this control, when it provides no increase in productivity, something that companies should even have over employees?

    My company has been fixated on having us return to the office throughout the entirity of covid-19, even as data came in saying that productivity had increased during remote work. It makes no sense to me and seems petty, honestly.

    • Yep, same here. Not only did our productivity increase all last year, but that equated to a whole slew of other things that hand fringe benefits as a result. In several meetings top level managers commented repeatedly about how much more we’d succeeded throughout the year when 90% of us were working from home.

      Now they want us to all come back into the office. It makes no sense. It really does boil down to this old fashioned mentality that “people aren’t working if they’re working from home” – even when they have the data that clearly proves the exact opposite in their face.

      As for someone who commutes to work, I’d be more than willing to take a pay cut to remain WFH myself, particularly if it was commensurate with how much money I pay for gas and car maintenance every year.

  11. In my current city – sure, but if I had to commute in Seattle, DC or Silicon Valley – no way. Also, in some places, the taxes on that money would cut into it so much that it’s not worth it.

  12. Yet by asking this & the responses, guess what’s been leveraged?

    Ans: Employers are now “enlightened” to where the “bar” is & will use this as yet another excuse to lower wages to the bone fir those allowed to wfh. They normally already keep rates low for in-office but those that insist on in-office work for whatever reason/excuse (however ridiculous) MAY have to pay a bit more, thorough I highly doubt it’ll be anywhere close to $30k… There’s not THAT many remote jobs available now – far less those that skill-match – without a myriad of oddball skills required. Plus many folks will stick with a job to hell & back plus Vs go looking for a new one.

    Employers know & rely on these facts to keep wages as low as possible & often treat their employees poorly (if not worse – that seems to be the trend). Thus if employers demand it, folks will have to make choices…

    Plan on perm remote jobs being in high-demand thus even harder to find for the foreseeable future…

  13. Salary should be driven by market value, not work location. Companies who move toward permanent work from home will experience significant savings in overhead expenses, and they will lose their top employees if they try to drive additional cost saving at the expense of their employees.

  14. I would take a pay cut only if I was working in a very high cost of living city and making an unusually high salary because of that. Otherwise, no chance if it’s just to give the company more profit when they’d be losing nothing by allowing me to work remotely. Arguably the company would save money because I’d be paying for my own electricity, toilet paper ( 😛 ), coffee, and freeing up an office in their building where offices are scarce.

  15. I would never go back. I save so much time and money with WFH and the benefit of not having to deal with traffic, weather, horrific commutes, parking, uncomfortable work setup, “priceless.”