Employers not considering pay adjustments despite remote working trend: Survey

Only 23 per cent of the 1,500 or so organisations worldwide said they may alter staff compensation based on an employee's location.
Only 23 per cent of the 1,500 or so organisations worldwide said they may alter staff compensation based on an employee's location.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - While working from home has become the new norm amid the pandemic, most employers said they were not considering adjusting pay based on an employee's location, according to a new survey.

It found that only 23 per cent of respondents said they may alter staff compensation while 11 per cent had modified salaries according to location, such as lowering pay if the employee moves to an area with lower living costs.

It also noted that almost half of the respondents have helped staff meet one-off costs associated with setting up home offices or other ongoing expenses, such as increased mobile phone use.

The poll of 1,500 or so organisations around the world conducted from Dec 7 to 15 found as well that only 32 per cent of employees are expected to return to the office once the pandemic is over.

Singapore Human Resources Institute president Low Peck Kem said that with remote work being more prevalent and as geographical boundaries become less of a concern, organisations should be looking at base salaries to ensure fair pay within the workforce.

"Companies can consider modifying some of its benefits to cater to the changing landscape where employees are expected to work from home for longer duration.

"These benefits can include modifying transport allowances to technology allowances to enable their employees to achieve relatively the same of higher levels of productivity whilst working from home."

Mr Paul Heng, managing director of career consultancy NextCareer Consulting, said the global workforce is facing a new world: "Companies that allow or encourage employees to work remotely or from their homes should continue to support such employees.

"It is an implicit responsibility of employers to provide a safe, comfortable and conducive working environment to employees - so, if the decision is (for employees) to work from home, then this implicit responsibility continues."

Future Of Work

The survey finding that only 32 per cent of staff might return to the office has also unsettled some firms.

Ms Jaya Dass, managing director of Singapore and Malaysia at recruitment agency Randstad, noted that some companies have raised concerns about losing their organisation culture given the reduced socialisation and collaborations that come with remote work.

"Whatever the decision is, it is critical that employers take into account the changing (employee) candidate expectations," Ms Dass said.

"It would not be uncommon for candidates to ask if the company allows staff to work remotely during the interview process in the future."

Ms Low also noted that there are many advantages to remote working and companies will have to figure out what is their right mix between those in the office and those at home, adding that there are savings in office rent and lower carbon footprints in light of remote work and less commuting.

Mr Heng said that employers should stop thinking about what comes after the pandemic ends and focus on dealing with the present: "The reality is not whether (a pandemic) will come again but when."

"Companies that can 'see' around the corner have a better chance of reacting positively when the next big thing happens," he added.

"So, we are looking at a new breed of CEOs who can rise above the ashes and bounce back strongly come what may."