Should You Move If You Work Remotely?

It’s hard to escape the remote work headlines that are taking over since the COVID-19 pandemic started. In March 2020, the world changed in many ways. Employees, due to shutdown orders, started working remotely. Now, their employers are moving toward permanent remote work situations in many cases. 

For example, PwC was one company just announcing their nearly 40,000 U.S. employees can now work remotely from anywhere in the country. 

The company said in their announcement that if you’re a client services employee in good standing and you want to work virtually, they’ll make it happen. 

There are plenty of benefits to remote work, and the options are sending many people out of cities like New York to smaller cities and even rural areas. 

For employees leaving New York, as an example, you don’t have to face traffic or commuting every day. You can save money on things like work clothes and eating lunch out. You have more time with your family, and you can put your focus more on your job and less on things like office politics. If you move out of New York and more expensive locations, you can probably get a lot more house and property for your money. 

You might move to a lower-tax location as well. 

With all that in mind, are there downsides? The following are considerations and implications of moving if you work remotely, before you make a change. 

Could You Lose Opportunities?

If you are allowed to work remotely and decide to move away from your home office, you’ll have to consider the possibility that this could cause you to lose opportunities. If you’re far away and not face-to-face with your boss, it’s easy for you to be overlooked regarding mentorship, training, and development, raises, or promotions.

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There may still be employees who are coming into the office, and they may end up being the people at the forefront of employers’ minds when it comes to new opportunities. 

Logistical Challenges

Before you pick and move after being given the opportunity to work remotely, perhaps permanently, you might want to think about what kind of logistical hurdles it could create, mainly in terms of technology. 

For example, if you move somewhere rural or even to another country, are you going to be able to access reliable Wi-Fi? Living in a bigger city, this might have been something you never even previously considered. 

Another logistical issue that your employer might be likely to bring up if you discuss moving is the differences in labor laws depending on where you are. 

Labor laws relating to things like minimum wage and overtime depend on the location you’re in, and there can be significant differences between states as well as cities. This is something employers will have to sort out, but it could affect decision-making as far as what employers are willing to let remote workers do and whether they’ll approve a move. 

Will You Have to Take a Pay Cut?

Some of the companies that have announced a permanent remote work option have also announced pay cuts for employees who move to less expensive parts of the country. For example, Google announced that while employees could work remotely in many cases, if they moved to a less expensive location out of somewhere like New York City or the Bay area, they would face a pay cut. 

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In June, Google launched a tool to show employees how much of a pay cut that might end up being—anywhere from 5% to 25%, according to a Reuters report.

Facebook and Twitter said they’re enacting similar policies. 

There’s been criticism of the plans, with many saying that it could leave workers feeling resentful or willing to leave their employer. That could be challenging at a time when tech companies are already struggling to find skilled talent. 

Google says it’s always based on where they live, but during the pandemic, Google has seen record profits. Employees have gotten shorter commutes and more balance in their lives and salaries that go further if they live elsewhere. Remote work is shifting from a perk to something employees expect, leaving employers in a precarious situation. 

If you are considering moving after an announcement that you could potentially be working remotely for the foreseeable future, make sure you get clarity from your employer on the logistics so you aren’t blindsided by something like a pay cut or perhaps even a loss of health insurance. 

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