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.