Why You Shouldn’t Pay Remote Workers Based on Where They Live
Facebook’s salary decision sets a dangerous precedent
I’ve been a vocal proponent of remote work for pretty much all of my career in technology — which, as it happens, started off in a fully remote gig. My belief all along has been that the distributed working model is a fundamentally disruptive technology whose clear advantages will inevitably win out.
Last week, Facebook broke open a long-running controversy over remote compensation with its announcement about letting (some) employees live wherever they want. At stake is the question of how to pay remote employees “fairly.” This hits right at the core of some basic issues that make equitable compensation such a common struggle for companies.
If it takes cutting wages to pry more tech jobs out of San Francisco or New York City so they can become available everywhere else, then so be it. Even after a 20% pay cut, folks in Winston-Salem or Jacksonville or Little Rock will probably still find the starting salary of a product marketing manager at Facebook to be competitive. The more employers we have competing over workers’ wages, the better. Expanded opportunity is always a net positive.
The business justification for employees needing to be in a major metro is collapsing.
But even with the benefit of expanded opportunity to look forward to, cost of living adjustments (COLAs) are still a deeply unfair and bad practice. People doing the same jobs and providing the same value should be paid the same. Here’s why.
What happens when employers become location agnostic?
Until very recently, going fully remote simply was not an option for most people. If you wanted to work at Company X, you often had to be based at an office in some large metropolitan area. That was the deal.
Yet in every software company I’ve worked for, almost everyone’s job could be — and sometimes was — done perfectly well remotely. Yes, all of them: product, engineering, design, ops, marketing, and more. Even skeptics of remote work know this, deep down. And right now, we are seeing a real-life proof of…