It always felt like companies were acting as if they were doing their employees a favor by letting them work remotely. Despite the fact that major corporations, like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan, did phenomenally well during the pandemic, as almost everyone worked from home, there was still the undercurrent of wanting people to return to the office.
It now looks like Google employees who want to continue working remotely may have their compensation cut, depending on where they reside. The search-engine giant rolled out a new calculator to show what workers will be paid if they work in different locations.
The gist is that employees who move out of the big cities to the suburbs will be subjected to decreased pay. For instance, Googlers who reside in New York City and work remotely won’t see any reductions in pay. However, Reuters found that an employee living in Stamford, Connecticut, a town that has many people who commute into the Big Apple, would be paid 15% less, if they work from home.
Google employees who decide to relocate far from their office will possibly face sharp slashes to their pay package. Reuters pointed to a worker who left San Francisco for Lake Tahoe, an expensive area of California, would have their pay cut significantly by 25%.
Back in May 2020, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that he’d allow his employees to continue working from home “forever.” Dorsey said, “We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive.”
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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said about remote work, “We’re going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale.” While this sounded noble and magnanimous, there was an underlying threat to workers.
At first blush, Facebook, Twitter, Square and other employees who’ve been offered the chance to work remotely were delighted that they don’t have to commute, deal with annoying co-workers, endless in-person meetings and their bosses glaring at them.
Some say that it’s not worthwhile to live in San Francisco, Silicon Valley or other cities where rentals and houses cost a fortune. The taxes and cost of living are also too high. Many will leave the cities and move to places that offer more affordable housing, along with a better quality and higher standard of living. This can be a boon for many suburbs and warm, sunny low-tax states and a detriment to the cities that throngs of people escape from.
Here’s the Facebook catch: employees will have to tell their boss if they move to a different location. According to Zuckerberg, those who flee to lower-cost cities “may have their compensation adjusted based on their new locations.” He ominously added, “We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point. There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.” Zuckerberg can now scout for talent all over the country and world. This could be the worst trend for workers, as CEOs arbitrage the best, cheapest job seekers globally.
According to a Google spokesperson, “Our compensation packages have always been determined by location, and we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from.” The company representative added that pay will differ from city to city and state to state.
It makes sense as to why these companies are trying to lure people back to the office. Google, Facebook and Amazon have made big investments in corporate real estate, which show that they are serious about having their employees return to an office setting.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, proposed constructing a large company-town project in Mountain View, California, which is being deemed “Middlefield Park Master Plan.” The tech behemoth will build a combination of houses, retail stores, parks and recreations and a corporate campus spanning 40 acres.
Amazon is embarking on a massive $2.5 billion mixed-use office and retail complex in Northern Virginia, which could house about 25,000 employees. The second headquarters, after Seattle, will include three 22-story office and retail buildings. An outdoors theme will include woodlands, an amphitheater, walking paths, extensive bike parking and a dog run.
In another move that challenges the current trend of companies embracing employees working from home, social-media giant Facebook purchased the beautiful, new and unused 400,000 square foot corporate campus headquarters from outdoor lifestyle retailer Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) near Seattle.
The spectacular complex offers a design and functionality incorporating the environment and nature with an office space consistent with its outdoor lifestyle brand. It has outdoor staircases, a bridge, courtyard and skylights for workers to see the wide-open sky.