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​ Survey: Putting a Dollar Value on the Added Appeal of Remote Work

New data shows employers listing jobs that must be performed on-site may need to pay workers higher wages to compensate for in-office work requirements.

By Mark Smith July 21, 2022
​ Survey: Putting a Dollar Value on the Added Appeal of Remote Work

Onsite jobs may need to pay workers higher wages to compensate for in-office work requirements, according to a SHRM Research Institute study of HR professionals. The same survey found organizations offering remote work are more likely to be effective at recruiting and retaining staff. These findings suggest employers may need to reconsider some combination of their approach to remote work, their compensation strategy, or their employee value proposition to remain competitive in the talent marketplace.

Quantifying Workers' Preference for Remote Roles

Almost half of all respondents (48%) agreed that they are definitely looking for a remote position for their next job. This figure included the vast majority of currently remote workers as well as 25% of workers currently working on site.

A conjoint survey analysis of job attractiveness showed that three features were most important when evaluating jobs: 1) work location (remote, hybrid or onsite); 2) financial compensation; and 3) commute time. Taken together, these three factors can show the financial value workers place on being able to work from home, given a certain commute length. The analysis found:

  • An onsite job with a 30-minute commute required 20% higher compensation to have attractiveness equal to that of a remote job. Based on the median salary of survey participants, that works out to an extra $12,600 in compensation.
  • An onsite job with just a 15-minute commute still needed an extra 15% in compensation to be as attractive as a remote position, for a median of $9,450 more, based on respondents' salaries.
  • A hybrid role with a 30-minute commute needed a compensation increase of 10% (or about $6,300, based on respondent's salaries) to reach attractiveness equal to a comparable fully remote role.

Remote Organizations Are More Likely to Be Effective at Recruitment, Retention

According to the recent SHRM State of the Workplace survey, HR professionals at remote organizations were more likely than those at in-person organizations to say their organization is effective at recruiting (46% versus 18%) and retaining talent (47% versus 32%). Another recent survey of U.S. workers showed that remote workers are more likely to recommend their organization than in-person workers (76% versus 50%).

How Remote Work Affects Employee Perceptions and Relationships

Some of the resistance to remote work comes from a worry that employees will work fewer hours or be less connected to the rest of the workforce than employees who are onsite. While the data in this survey can't settle those questions, it does show that there's a gap between how remote and onsite employees see their co-workers.

The survey found just 8% of remote workers believed that other remote workers work fewer hours than onsite workers. But when the same question was asked of onsite workers, 44% said remote workers work less than those onsite.

However, there was much more agreement about work relationships—both remote and onsite workers shared the belief that remote workers are less likely to form strong relationships. Despite these perceptions, results showed that the groups were equal when asked about their own experiences: 19% of both remote and onsite employees reported being unable to form valuable work relationships.

What This Means for Businesses

There are several conclusions from the SHRM remote work research that the executive audience should consider:

    • There is still a strong desire from many workers to work remotely, and this demand even extends to some workers who are presently working onsite.
    • The belief from onsite workers that many remote workers are slackers is an important perception that seems to be permeating boardrooms across major organizations and could explain some of the push to get employees back to work onsite.
    • Even though many people expect that remote workers will have problems developing strong working relationships, current reports from workers do not reveal this as a problem; however, this could develop as a problem in the future.
    • When evaluating jobs, job seekers strongly prefer remote jobs, as well as jobs that pay well and (if not remote) jobs with a short commute.

How HR Leaders Should Respond

While not all jobs can be done remotely, and remote work isn't going to be right for every organization, the results of this survey suggest workers have strong feelings about being able to work from outside the office. As an HR leader, you'll need to continually evaluate the talent landscape and question your talent engagement strategy. In light of these survey findings, you may want to:

    • Consider embracing remote work. Understand that because there is still a demand for remote work, you might have to embrace some form of remote work—or else you are likely to lose employees.
    • Understand that you might have to revisit compensation. If your company still demands that jobs be completed in person and onsite, pay may need to be re-evaluated. Otherwise, your hiring will likely suffer from a lack of interest in the job market.
    • Consider a major rethinking of how work gets completed. There are some jobs that are not done remotely as they currently stand but could be done offsite in the future. Using a combination of technology, inventiveness and trust in employees, you might be able to create a workable solution.
    • Review your employee value proposition (EVP). If your organization is unable or unwilling to have completely remote jobs, you might need to completely rethink your EVP so you can make the case for why job seekers should consider working for you as onsite employees.

Methodology

As part of a larger research program on remote work, the SHRM Research Institute surveyed 1,702 U.S. workers in Q2 2022. This included 457 fully remote, 510 fully onsite and 723 hybrid workers. In addition to standard survey questions, this survey utilized a market research technique (conjoint survey analysis) to evaluate simulated job profiles based on seven relevant job features.  


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