When contacted by Amazon in May, Julie Shi, a USC senior studying computer science, was thrilled to learn that she would be part of the company’s 2021 summer internship program as a software development engineer. But the excitement soon turned to disappointment when she was informed of a 10% pay cut the day before she started working.
According to Shi, the human resources team had never communicated a possible decrease in salary after giving her the option to work remotely.
“I might still decide to work from home here in L.A., but information like that needs to be talked through beforehand,” she said.
Amazon Web Services isn’t the only company that lowers remote workers’ pay. Google announced in August that it would adjust the pay of employees who decide to work from home rather than coming into the office.
The debate over remote work is focused on productivity, as some managers don’t believe that their employees can achieve the same level of performance as they do in the office. According to a Vyopta/Wakefield Research survey in August, 83% of executives overseeing companies with a staff of more than 500 have an employee who has received some disciplinary action during a video or audio conference, and a third of them have lost a client or business opportunity due to connection issues.
However, other companies have taken advantage of remote work by hiring people from across the globe.
Ankur Dahiya launched his cloud service company, Run X, during the pandemic and would meet with half of his team once a week at the office. Dahiya said the work-from-home environment is an advantage for startups like his because he can hire engineers and avoid competing with large companies in the Bay Area.
“We have access to a much bigger pool of candidates,” he said.
The Run X team is made up of employees from different states and countries including India and Canada. As a co-founder of the startup company, Dahiya said he does not worry too much about the productivity and motivation of his employees.
“Everyone has a very clear goal that they want to reach…and they feel that they’re making a bigger contribution to the company as founding members,” he said.
Besides the opportunities seized by startup businesses, the option to work remotely has become more of an expectation for college students eagerly looking for jobs. Allison Ohara, a USC junior who interned at Microsoft this summer, found that she was more productive when writing code at home because she was away from possible distractions at the office.
“Since the hours were more flexible I could just wake up whenever and start working,” she said, “but networking was supposed to be a huge part of interning, and it definitely feels less so this year.”
Ohara received a return offer at the end of her internship, but since the full-time job was at Microsoft’s office in Seattle, she made the request to work from home in Southern California which was later approved by the company.
“They never said to me that I could work remotely and not relocate, but once I asked they were open to it,” she said.
The majority of Gen Z entering the workforce is demanding more flexibility in work locations and hours, and they prefer a hybrid model that could combine the advantages of both in-person and remote environments.
According to a Bankrate Job Seeker survey in July, 56% of Americans put job flexibility as a top priority when thinking about their careers moving forward, followed by higher pay and job security.
“What I’ve learned during the past year is to value time spent with your family, friends and even yourself,” said Sarah Glasser, a campus ambassador and former summer intern at Salesforce, “and I don’t want to sacrifice those for a position fully in person.”