Dear Pat: My manager has agreed to my recent request to work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the other days, I’ll work at the corporate office, maintaining my usual full-time schedule. I’m thrilled to get the go-ahead but he’s suggesting a 10% pay cut as part of my telework deal. Is that customary? ~ Confounded Courtney
Dear Courtney: In a word, no.
The fact is, many people have responded to surveys saying they would be willing to give up some pay in order to telework or have other flexible work arrangements. It’s a reflection of how much time flexibility is coveted. But in actual practice, there’s no reason to make that concession unless you’re combining telecommuting with a shortened workweek or workday, i.e., fewer hours.
So be on guard: while you’re in that “thrilled” and grateful zone, you’re also in a vulnerable position to compromise your pay. Reset your thinking and resist the suggestion. Be aware that your manager’s suggestion may come from an outdated and misguided mindset that telework is an accommodation or employee perk.
Two Ways to Counter the Concession Suggestion
What can you do? Here are two tactics to use as needed.
1. Disregard the suggestion. Your boss may be throwing you some conditional bait to reel in departmental benefits (salary savings) as part of the negotiations. Don’t take it. He’ll likely drop the issue.
2. If he doesn’t drop it, be prepared ahead of time. Put the proposed arrangement in writing. (This is the best approach when first making the request, in any case.) In addition to sections on schedule, job responsibilities, physical set-up and equipment, communication, and evaluation, insert a section on compensation and benefits with this one, matter-of-fact line:
“As my full-time work status will remain unchanged, compensation and benefits coverage will not be affected.”
Then, as the two of you address the specifics of your proposed arrangement, he’ll either agree with the plain logic presented and move on, or be forced to justify a pay cut for work that you’re doing which remains unchanged except for the location in which it gets done.
If he does the latter, call him on it. In a diplomatic way, of course. If the discussion escalates, reinforce your position with a presentation of the well-documented employer benefits of telecommuting. Put special emphasis on the double-digit productivity gains that are typical of remote workers stemming from fewer interruptions. (How about that: working from home should position you for a pay raise instead!)
With this approach, you make it clear that telework is not an employee perk, but rather a savvy business strategy that has measurable employer benefits. That reality, along with the other reasons presented, makes a pay cut for telecommuting a crazy concession.