What would workers sacrifice to remain remote?

Results from a new survey show that employees would accept significant cuts to pay, PTO and benefits to avoid going back to the office.

By Robby Brumberg      @robbybrumberg      
What would workers sacrifice to stay remote?

Workers of the world, prepare for battle. Well, for serious negotiations, at least.

New data collected by Breeze reveals that employees are willing to bend and bargain in the pursuit of maintaining the freedoms afforded by remote work.

To keep working from home, the report found that:

  • 65% of respondents would take a 5% pay cut.
  • 38% would take a 10% pay cut.
  • 24% would take a 15% pay cut.
  • 18% would take a 20% pay cut.
  • 15% would take a 25% pay cut.
  • 39% would give up health insurance benefits.
  • 44% would give up dental insurance benefits.
  • 44% would give up life insurance benefits.
  • 46% would give up 25% of their PTO.
  • 23% would give up 50% of their PTO.
  • 17% would give up 75% of their PTO.
  • 15% would give up 100% of their PTO.
  • 36% would give up their 401(k) or other retirement plan.
  • 53% would work an extra 10 hours per week.
  • 48% would give up their student-loan repayment assistance benefit.
  • 44% would give up paid parental leave.
  • 47% would give up mental health benefits.
  • 55% would give up social media for the next year.
  • 34% would give up their right to vote in all future local and national elections for life.
  • 52% would give up Netflix or their favorite streaming service for the next year.
  • 52% would give up Amazon for the next year.

Wow.

As you might imagine, people of a certain age have differing views on remote work. Breeze broke down its data by generation, finding that “Gen Xers were often the most likely generation to take pay cuts, part ways with some of the best job benefits, or get rid of PTO in exchange for the ability to work remotely full-time.”

Mike Brown, director of communications for Breeze, says the findings should serve as a warning about the looming workplace showdown every company must face. In other words, buckle up for a bumpy ride ahead. 

“Judging from our survey, it’s clear that returning to the office will not be a smooth process as too many employees have come to prefer remote work,” Brown says, adding, “In light of this, employers and employees must work together to develop a plan for how to balance remote work with coming into the office.”

Brown suggests having team meetings to clarify policies on return-to-work issues to ensure “everybody is heard.” He also suggests using “anonymous employee surveys to allow people to voice their opinions freely, and meet somewhere in the middle when all is said and done.”

This much is sure: The return-to-work fight has only just begun—and it’s likely to be prolonged as organizations delay their returns to the workplace because of COVID’s resurgence. Expect a flurry of ultimatums and haggling from all sides in coming months, and make sure your company establishes clear guidance and expectations on return-to-work policies.

For more details on this data, read the rest of Breeze’s survey findings here.