Home is the new office. This became true for many during the coronavirus pandemic. While this is a temporary measure for most, working from home is becoming more and more common. Tech giants such as Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Twitter even see financial benefits for their balance sheets by letting employees work from home. And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has plans to adjust payroll based on employee location—a move that could add many millions to his company’s bottom line.
For any large company, location matters. An appealing location ensures that people will want to work there, but it comes at a price. The cost of living in the United States varies greatly from place to place. Currently, large tech companies are based in urban centers like San Francisco and New York City. These vibrant cities draw lots of people but are very expensive to live in. The high cost of living means employees demand higher salaries.
With most employees working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, companies got to see what it’s like to have large numbers of employees contributing from off site. The results were encouraging. Many employees are interested in full-time remote work, and working at home allowed them flexibility and family time with no long, hectic commute.
Zuckerberg says Facebook is going to be “the most forward-leaning company on remote work at [its] scale.” This sounds good for the employees. But the biggest incentive for tech companies is that it allows that staff to work from less expensive locales. For example: As of April 2020, the average monthly rent for an apartment in Atlanta was just $1,628, compared to $3,767 for San Francisco.
So Facebook plans to open “hubs” in cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver to employ remote workers outside costly Silicon Valley.
That means employees will get more out of their paychecks if they move to less expensive towns, right? Not so fast. Facebook employees will be required to report any moves to their boss. Zuckerberg says their pay could be “adjusted” based on where they move. Over time, Facebook will seek out far-flung remote workers that they don’t have to pay as much, saving the company big bucks.
This change could certainly impact employees who want to enjoy big-city life. But that’s how the free market works. Companies seek the best employees for the lowest price. Remote work will likely change the job market and have a ripple effect on where people decide to live and work.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men — Colossians 3:23