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As office returns get postponed, workers say they’d take pay cut to work from home

As office returns get postponed, workers say they’d take pay cut to work from home

 August 26, 2021 at 2:19 am   |     Author:   |     Technology  

An enormous ring-shaped building on a green campus.
Enlarge / Apple’s global headquarters in Cupertino, California.

As Apple and other big tech companies postpone their planned returns to physical offices, a survey has found that workers around the United States would give up a lot to stay remote.

As previously reported by ZDNet, GoodHire published a survey this week of 3,500 workers in the US and found that just over two-thirds of them would prefer to work remotely rather than in an office.

Further, 70 percent of those people said they would give up most or all of their benefits, like health insurance and holidays, to be able to work remotely. Sixty-one percent say they would take a pay cut to make it happen. Most said they’d take a 10 percent pay reduction, but some claimed they’d even accept half their current salary in exchange for remote work.

That might sound like a shot in the foot, but given that fully remote work would allow employees to live wherever they want—and San Jose’s cost of living is estimated to be 160 percent that of St. Louis—a 50 percent pay cut may not be so outrageous for some.

Late last week, Bloomberg reported that Apple HR chief Deirdre O’Brien had just announced to employees that Apple’s plans to return to offices would be delayed from October of this year to January of 2022. That followed a previous delay from September to October. Apple told employees that they will be notified a month in advance when a return to in-person work is underway.

When that return happens, the company’s leadership plans to allow employees to work from home two days a week and to request as much as two weeks at home per year for longer stints. But workers would still have to live near the pricey cities where Apple operates in order to come into the office most of the time.

(This also means it’s likely that Apple’s upcoming public events for the 2021 iPhones and other new products will again be fully virtual.)

As we wrote earlier this month, some tech companies have been embroiled in strife as they’ve pushed to get workers back to their desks. An initial wave of optimism that the pandemic would soon largely be over—at least in places with high vaccination rates, where many of these tech companies are based—has subsided. Instead, the sometimes-asymptomatic vaccinated can spread COVID-19 to the vulnerable unvaccinated, variants are sweeping through unvaccinated populations, and cases are rising overall in most parts of the country.

Each company has taken a different tack, but Apple’s approach was more conservative than many. Meanwhile, its employee backlash appeared more public and organized than what has been seen at some other big tech companies. With the delay to January, some of that debate has been postponed. But if surveys like this one tell us anything, it’s that Apple may have a steep road ahead if it wants to retain talent while going back to pre-pandemic ways of working, whenever that happens.

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