Over the last two years it’s become apparent the pandemic has permanently changed the way work is going to be done. Remote work has given millions the chance to flee expensive, crowded metro areas in favor of surroundings more suited to the lifestyle of their choice. In what’s been dubbed ‘The Great Migration,’ we’re experiencing a momentous reshuffling of blue-collar workers that’s seen traditional population centers like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia lose residents to sunnier, less-crowded locales such as Florida, Texas and Arizona.
Even before the pandemic, our company worked fully remotely. Each of our employees is allowed to live and work anywhere they would like, so long as they can be available during the core hours of 10 am and 4 pm for scheduled meetings. Otherwise, our people are free to get their work done on their own schedule. And although a fully remote workplace does have its challenges, the general consensus internally is that our team members greatly prefer this style of working. When our founders decided on a remote workplace over four years ago, they obviously had no idea a pandemic would soon change the world. Rather, the decision was made for a number of reasons that provide value to both the employer and the employee.
Attracting top talent
As HR Professionals, we know the talent pool for non-remote organizations is generally limited to those already residing in the general area of a company’s offices. Sure, sometimes top talent is willing to relocate for the right opportunity, but still, not everyone is willing or able to make a move in order to facilitate a job change. In fact, a survey from GoodHire found an overwhelming 68% of Americans would choose remote work over traditional in-office work.
By offering full-time remote work, our talent pool is essentially the entire world. We have team members in Europe, North America and even Australia. Compared to competitors with offices in one or even a handful of cities, we hold a measurable competitive advantage in recruiting by offering workers the chance to work remotely full-time.
It’s always interesting to learn why individuals in our company live where they do. For some, it’s a matter of preference, for others it’s a necessity. A talented member of our development team splits his time between Spain and Chile in order to combat the severe Seasonal Affective Disorder he experiences in winter. Another escaped danger in Venezuela and is now enjoying life in Europe. Some have moved to new countries for love or family and found remote work to be the only way they could continue their careers without drastic commitments to education or retraining. No matter where or why our team members live where they do, we’re grateful to empower them to support our diverse and inclusive culture.
It’s no secret remote working has a positive effect on an organization’s bottom line. Overhead costs drop dramatically when the need for office space, parking, utilities, maintenance and security is reduced or even disappears. In 2015, it was reported that office space in New York cost an average of $14,800 per employee each year. Similarly, costs in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles ranged from $6,702 to $13,032.
GoodHire’s survey indicated 61% of American workers would be willing to take a reduction in pay in order to continue working remotely. While 50% noted they would even consider taking a 50% pay cut rather than return to the office. Reducing or altering compensation during the pandemic was not unheard of. And in one notable instance employees offered to reduce their own salaries, rather than face layoffs.
However, reductions in compensation have not been met with favor. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have each announced employees relocating from the Bay Area will face pay cuts. While Reddit has bucked the trend and declared employee salaries would not change based on where they choose to live.
Our company has also decided employee salaries will be based on skills, experience, and education, not where they decide to live. We think this gives us the greatest chance to leverage our competitive advantage as a remote employer, while not losing out on top talent due to dissatisfaction with compensation.
The core values of our organization are trust, passion and accountability. We believe in hiring talented individuals whom we can trust to deliver quality work within specified timeframes. To increase our chances of landing the best candidates, we’ve recently announced all employees will benefit from unlimited vacation time. We know reports have shown these policies can lead to workers taking less time off. This is why we’re mandating employees take at least the same number of days they were legally required to before this policy was implemented as well as keeping our Christmas ‘shut down’ period. We’re also implementing quarterly reviews with managers and running internal workshops to make sure employees are taking enough time off and that managers are supporting their teams.
Over the years there have been countless trends in workplace innovation. From flat org charts to open office spaces, some have been met with more criticism and staying power than others. But no matter when or if the pandemic ends, remote work is here to stay. Whether the future brings full-time remote work or a hybrid model, in many industries there’s too much value for both employer and employee to ever go back to 40 hours per week in the office. After all, happy employees are more productive, and that for us is fundamental.
Cordelia Morgan Cooper is Head of People at the KaFe Rocks Group and Time2play in Malta.