I hate to be the bearer of bad news as we head into a brand new year but just in case y’all thought this WFH thing would mean potentially being able to upgrade to some huge rural property at your generous “city” salary … not so fast.
A recent Bloomberg article says it’s already happening in tech. Knowing what we know about accounting firms, it wouldn’t be all that shocking if they start to follow suit. Eventually, that is.
It introduces us to Rachel Musker, a former Brooklyner who moved to much cheaper Rochester, NY in March when the pandemic first started getting serious. It was originally a temporary move, but just like everyone else who made decisions back in March and thought “just give it two weeks and it’ll all be back to normal,” Musker and her husband ended up sticking around for months:
Like many people during the pandemic who could suddenly work remotely, Musiker had moved without figuring out all the details with her employer. One thing they hadn’t discussed was salary. Now that she lived in an inexpensive city, Redfin asked, would she be willing to accept a pay cut?
It’s a question that’s been foisted on many white-collar employees. In February only 8% of the U.S. workforce did their job entirely from home, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. It spiked to 35% in May, as offices stayed closed and workers fled to less densely populated areas. The work-from-home rate has fallen a bit since and will drop further as vaccines are distributed. But a substantial number of workers are likely never going back to their old offices.
This shift has been especially pronounced in the tech industry, which has a high concentration of employees who can work from anywhere but are based (for now) in expensive coastal cities. Facebook, Microsoft, and Stripe have announced that more employees will be able to work remotely indefinitely. Like Redfin, those companies are also adjusting pay for workers who relocate. Musiker’s salary and bonus will go down about 20% next year if she stays in Rochester. She’s resigned to the trade-off, at least for now. “So much in the world is not how I thought it would be,” she says.
I’m curious how many of you would accept similar circumstances were your firm to approach you this way. Is it worth the trade-off to you?