Talking tech since 2003

This is a topic I've actually been wanting to write about for a while, but now, with the announcements coming from various tech companies that they're allowing employees to continue to work remotely (permanently) it seemed like a good time to sit down and put these words on the page. Along with the announcements of employees being able to permanently work remotely came news of another kind: salary cuts.

Yep, companies like Twitter, Microsoft, VMWare, Facebook, etc are all looking to cut the pay of any employee who chooses to relocate and work remotely. In some cases, salary cuts could be as high as 20 percent. For example, if a software engineer at Facebook who was earning $120,000 per year relocated to a city with a cheaper cost of living, they could lose out on $24,000 per year, meaning their new salary would be $96,000 per year. That's still a nice salary, but $24,000 is a lot of money to miss out on for doing the same exact job, just in a different location.

This really gets to me and I'll explain why.

I'm actually not surprised by this move and if you are, then you haven't been paying attention. Let's not forget who we're talking about here: the very same tech companies that for the past two decades have spent lavishly on perks (free food, yoga, massages, transportation, etc) designed to keep employees in the office now are allowing remote work.

The decision to allow remote work is almost at odds with everything these companies have [privately] been pushing. I say privately because publicly these companies want to appear like a great place to work, but privately, these companies really just want to extract as much from their employees as possible. That's why we've seen numerous stories about terrible company culture (Uber, Away, etc) within the tech industry. These companies never cared about you, they care about making money. You've become a cog in the wheel.

So it's no shock that all these mega tech companies are enforcing these salary cuts. That being said, it's important to recognize the fact they are enforcing pay cuts:

  • Despite the fact most of them have billions in cash on hand.
  • Despite the fact our economy is on the brink of crashing.
  • Despite the fact these are highly skilled workers.
  • Despite the fact these companies already budgeted for all of these salaries.
  • Despite the fact people relocating with high salaries from tech companies could help the local economies where they move.

Plus, when you realize that despite the fact remote work is now allowed at these tech giants, it's unclear how it will impact company culture moving forward. As it stands right now, we all know that even Google employees in the New York office don't get as much recognition as those in Mountain View – so how exactly will that translate for employees who choose to work remote? Will they, in addition to having lower salaries, also have a far more difficult time being promoted within the company? If past is prologue, then yes, which is extremely unfortunate for them and Google. It's obvious why it's unfortunate for the individual but it's also unfortunate for Google from a competitive stand-point. I have no doubt there will be other tech companies out there that don't cut salaries of employees and they will see an influx of interested talent while Google could become a less sexy place to work (especially if you don't get to take advantage of those company perks).

If these companies are truly forward-thinking they will do what's right. That includes not cutting salaries and ensuring that remote employees have access to the same company culture as an employee in the office. Doing these things isn't just good for employees, it's the smart thing to do to remain competitive.

What do you think? Should employees have to take pay cuts if they relocate? Let us know in the comments!

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