Google Remote Work Pay Cuts Could Force Hard Employee Decisions

Google employees who opt to work remotely could end up taking a severe pay cut, according to a new analysis by Reuters.

Reuters accessed Google’s internal pay calculator and found that remote employees who lived relatively close to a Google office would still face reductions as high as 15 percent. For example, one employee who lived in a county near Seattle found that opting for all-remote work would lower their paycheck by 10 percent—but they could save that money by actually heading into the office. 

“It’s as high of a pay cut as I got for my most recent promotion. I didn’t do all that hard work to get promoted to then take a pay cut,” that employee told the newswire.

It’s a similar situation for employees who work in Google’s New York City office but might opt to work remotely from homes in Connecticut, which are easily reachable via commuter rail. Google told Reuters that it wouldn’t monetarily penalize those workers who choose to work remotely in an area where a company office is located; for those who live further away, though, that internal calculator could demand significant cuts.

But how many of Google’s employees will end up working remotely full-time? The company has made it abundantly clear that it’s committed to a “hybrid” work model for most of its employees. “We’ll move to a hybrid work week where most Googlers spend approximately three days in the office and two days wherever they work best,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email posted to Google’s corporate blog. “Since in-office time will be focused on collaboration, your product areas and functions will help decide which days teams will come together in the office.”

Earlier this year, Pichai estimated that 20 percent of Google’s employees would work remotely full-time, although these percentages could always shift as managers try to figure out which employees actually need to periodically come into an office. That’s a significant percentage of technologists potentially impacted by a pay cut, and Google needs to get its remote-compensation policy exactly right if it doesn’t want at least some unhappy Googlers to leave the company.

Facebook and other tech giants have also announced that some employees who work remotely may need to take a pay cut depending on their local cost of living. In survey after survey, technologists have voiced their dissatisfaction with the idea that remote work should come with any kind of pay cut, and it’s easy to see why: Millions of them have already demonstrated that they can work from home for months on end with no decrease in performance, so why should their paychecks take a hit?