Take a pay cut for remote work? No thanks, say employees in Australia

Besides a reluctance to earn less, some employees are also not convinced that they will benefit from working from home.
By: | January 18, 2024

While some employees in Australia believe that working from home can benefit their productivity, health, and wellbeing, most of them will forego the opportunity to do so if it means taking a pay cut.

According to a survey of 1,113 employees conducted by Lynette Washington, Research Fellow, UniSA Business, University of South Australia; and Akshay Vij, Associate Professor, UniSA Business, University of South Australia, 55% of employees are not prepared to sacrifice salary for the right to work remotely.

Of this group of employees, 31% do not see any “significant benefits” to working from home. Instead, they are concerned about the negative impact on organisational relationships, learning opportunities and prospects for advancement if they are not working in the office.

Conversely, about one-fifth of the survey respondents said they would be prepared to take a pay cut of between 16% and 33% for the right to work from home. This works out at A$12,000 (USD$10,601) to A$24,000 (USD$21,203) of their annual salaries, and these employees are largely in white-collar “knowledge economy” jobs.

In terms of demographics, female employees are 28% more likely to favour working from home, while employees in their 30s and 50s are more likely to resist the return to office. Younger employees in their 20s who are starting their careers, however, are less likely to prioritise remote work, as they are most likely to value direct interactions with their colleagues and supervisors.

To attract and retain the best talent, the researchers recommended employers take a multi-faceted approach to find the right balance to meet the needs of all employees.

READ: Drop in remote work among employees in Australia

While some employees can be offered the ability to work from home in lieu of higher salaries, others are concerned about their career prospects if they work from home.

“Many workers value both face-to-face relations and flexibility. Finding the right balance will become increasingly important now that COVID has shown us how many of our jobs can be done from home,” the researchers concluded.