Woman working remotely on laptop outside

Woman working remotely (Photo by Persnickety Prints on Unsplash)

ADELAIDE, Australia — What’s more important to you: working from home or a higher salary? A surprising new report by a team from the University of South Australia reveals that nearly half of workers are open to sacrificing a part of their annual salary for the opportunity to work remotely.

Researchers surveyed over 1,100 Australian workers, revealing that 45 percent of them are willing to accept a pay cut in exchange for the flexibility of remote work. On average, employees who can effectively perform their duties from home are willing to give back $3,000 to $6,000 of their annual wages, which equates to four to eight percent of their salary. Even more astonishing, one-fifth of respondents are ready to sacrifice between $12,000 and $24,000 annually just to stay home, accounting for 16 to 33 percent of their salaries.

However, the study also highlights that more than half (55%) of the surveyed workers are unwilling to sacrifice a portion of their wages for remote work. Their reasons range from concerns about productivity and well-being to skepticism about the benefits of working remotely.

“We found that attitudes towards the impacts of remote working on human relationships and interactions were a significant predictor of these differences. For example, workers who didn’t place a positive value on remote working are more concerned about their relationship with colleagues and their supervisors, as well as missing out on opportunities for learning and career advancement,” says lead researcher Akshay Vij, an associate professor at the University of South Australia, in a university release. “It was interesting to find that these concerns were raised more often by workers who had more experience with remote working before the pandemic. Workers who had less experience with remote working arrangements were more positive about working from home.”

remote work
(Credit: Daria Shevtsova from Pexels)

The study outlines disparities in attitudes toward remote work based on gender, age, and family status. Female workers showed a higher inclination towards valuing remote work compared to men. Workers in their 30s and 50s also displayed a greater appreciation for the ability to work from home, while those in their 20s expressed the least interest, possibly due to the perceived importance of in-person interactions for career growth.

Researchers highlighted that couples with children, whether they had left home or were still living there, were most willing to sacrifice a part of their salary for remote work compared to other family structures.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the way people approach work, with the number of employees working remotely rising from two to eight percent in major Australian cities in 2016 to 21 percent in 2021, as indicated by census data.

While acknowledging the benefits of remote work for well-being and work-life balance, Vij emphasizes that the transition to working from home as a standard may vary among different demographic groups.

“Evidence shows that working from home will continue at higher levels than pre-pandemic, although there is likely to be considerable disparity in the uptake of remote working among different demographic groups,” notes Vij. “Working from home is not going to be suitable for everyone. It’s about trying to find what works for you and your employer and getting the balance right.”

The study also highlights various pros and cons associated with remote work, including enhanced work-life balance and wellbeing as positives, countered by potential drawbacks such as reduced interaction with colleagues, impacting career growth opportunities for younger workers, and increased home-related costs for remote workers.

The study is published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

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