Remote work has been a hot topic for the past few years, and it's often touted as the dream of most employees.
They can skip a draining commute. They don't have to invest in office-appropriate attire (or, honestly, even change out of pajamas at all). They're not dealing with distracting colleagues, thermostat debates, or other common workplace pet peeves.
For that reason, most workers are still singing the praises of remote work. In fact, Gallup found that of employees who were working at least some of their hours remotely during the pandemic, a whopping 91% of them want to continue to be able to work at home when the pandemic is over.
It makes sense — there's no shortage of remote work benefits for employees. But what about the pay? Is there any difference between remote salaries and office salaries? Is there anything employees need to know about how their chosen work location will impact their compensation (if at all)? We dug into the data to find out.
We then scraped various job sites and keyword tools for the positions that appeared on that list to find their search volume and the number of jobs with that title that were posted. Those metrics were then ranked, and we calculated an average rank for the jobs.
That gave us a list of the highest-ranking jobs, which we used to scrape the popular job search site, Indeed, to find and compile salaries for those positions.
Are remote job salaries higher in the US?
Here's the short answer: Yes. On average, in the United States, fully remote job salaries are $12,097 (or 13.58%) higher than office salaries.
Of course, that's an average — and it doesn't necessarily hold true for all industries or jobs. There are some roles where in-office salaries are much higher than remote salaries. However, speaking strictly in averages, remote salaries are higher than office salaries in the United States.
Which jobs have the greatest difference in pay?
So, which jobs have the biggest salary differences? Let's take a look at the top three jobs with the higher remote salary, as well as the top three jobs with the higher in-office salary.
Keep in mind that data wasn't controlled for location, experience level, or other similar factors that could impact compensation. The data simply looked at the pay of jobs that shared the same title.
Top three jobs with higher remote salary
Average office salary: $75,651 Average remote salary: $154,874 Dollar difference: $79,223 Percent difference: 104.72%
Average office salary: $60,643 Average remote salary: $132,875 Dollar difference: $72,232 Percent difference: 119.11%
Average office salary: $141,226 Average remote salary: $209,511 Dollar difference: $68,285 Percent difference:48.35%
Top three jobs with higher office salary
Average office salary: $142,291 Average remote salary: $62,250 Dollar difference: $80,041 Percent difference: 56.25%
Average office salary: $166,102 Average remote salary: $97,776 Dollar difference: $68,326 Percent difference: 41.13%
Average office salary: $80,902 Average remote salary: $26,250 Dollar difference: $54,652 Percent difference: 67.55%
Are remote work salaries higher in the UK?
On average, the same trend holds true in the UK — remote salaries are higher than office salaries there, too. Average remote salaries are £2,271 higher (7.78%) than office salaries. So, it's not as significant of a difference as in the United States but still shows that the typical remote worker earns more when compared with office workers.
Which jobs have the greatest difference in pay?
While the overall trend is the same, the roles are pretty different. Here's a quick look at the top three jobs with the higher remote salary and the top three jobs with the higher office salary.
Top three jobs with higher remote salary
Average office salary: £43,884 Average remote salary: £58,998 Pound difference: £15,114 Percent difference: 34.44%
Average office salary: £25,997 Average remote salary: £40,752 Pound difference: £14,755 Percent difference: 56.76%
Average office salary: £38,589 Average remote salary: £52,672 Pound difference: £14,083 Percent difference: 36.49%
Top three jobs with higher office salary
Average office salary: £55,687 Average remote salary: £31,373 Pound difference: £24,314 Percent difference: 43.66%
Average office salary: £43,819 Average remote salary: £35,997 Pound difference: £7,822 Percent difference: 17.85%
Average office salary: £41,071 Average remote salary:£38,034 Pound difference: £3,037 Percent difference: 7.39%
Do the salary differences hold true between the US and UK?
Both countries have the same conclusion: On average, remote salaries are higher than office salaries. A closer look at the data reveals a much larger discrepancy between salaries in the US than in the UK. To state it simply, the remote and office salaries in the US are way further apart — in some cases, one salary could be three times its counterpart. It's tough to say why the UK salaries are more closely aligned, particularly when the pound-to-dollar conversion isn't that significant. However, the population of the UK (roughly 68.6 million in 2022) is much smaller than of the US (roughly 335 million). That smaller sample size could've impacted the data, but again, it's only an assumption.
Do people get paid more or less since the start of the pandemic?
Well, it depends. The pandemic was especially hard on low-income positions. Data from Pew Research Center states that 21% of American adults had to reduce their hours or take a pay cut as a result of the pandemic. Most workers who experienced that (60%) say they're earning less now than before the pandemic.
Other industries went the other direction and saw wage gains. Data shows that 63.6% of private sector payroll workers are employed in industries where the average weekly wage in the second quarter of 2021 was at least 5% higher than it was in the second quarter of 2020, with hospitality sector wages rising the most. Some industries — like educational services or arts, entertainment, and recreation — saw pay ranges decline.
So, it's tough to draw a firm conclusion on whether or not wages are higher or lower than before the pandemic. A lot hinges on what specific industry you're looking at. But speaking very generally, most wages did increase beyond pre-pandemic levels.
Has the demand for remote work risen?
The answer to this one is far more cut and dried: Yes. Absolutely. Since many members of the labor market became accustomed to working from home during the height of the pandemic, the demand for remote work is higher than ever before.
Take a look at these statistics that illustrate the widespread appeal of remote work:
Online searches for open remote positions increased by 460% between June 2019 and June 2021
Among employees who have the opportunity to work remotely, a whopping 87% take employers up on the offer and work remotely at least one or more days per week
64% of employees admit that they would consider quitting their jobs if they were required to return to the office full-time
35% of job seekers say they have declined or would decline a job offer that required them to work full-time on location
To put it simply, remote work isn't a passing fad or stopgap to get through pandemic restrictions — it's a major shift to the work landscape that's bound to stick around for the long haul.
Why do some people think office workers should get paid more?
So, where does the discrepancy between remote and office salaries even come from?
There likely isn't one simple answer, but a number of opinions and considerations on both sides of the argument.
Why do some people think that remote workers should get paid less than their in-office colleagues? Here are a few arguments for why office workers deserve higher compensation:
Office workers might have higher expenses: From commutes to office-appropriate apparel, people working in-office could have higher expenses than people who get their work done from the comfort of their own homes. Some companies have even started offering commuting costs on top of employees' salaries to help cover the cost of getting to work as part of their compensation strategy. It could be argued that remote workers might also have large expenses — particularly if they don't get a stipend to set up their home offices and keep them stocked — but they're still likely a smaller burden than the costs in-office workers have to manage.
Office workers don't have location flexibility: Much of the salary conversation comes back to location and market rates. In some cases, remote workers have the option to relocate out of major cities and to areas with much lower costs of living. Office workers don't have that same freedom. Some large companies (more on those a little later) have already announced adjustments to workers’ salaries to pay people in accordance with where they choose to live.
Office workers should be rewarded for their commitment: Even if remote work is the preference of most employees, many leaders and companies still want their teams back in the office — at least part of the time. In fact, 50% of companies already require or plan to require full-time in-person work within the next year. When that goes against employees' desires, some people assert that a pay raise is important to lure people back to their desks and office spaces.
In short, companies might be able to bring employees back to their cubicles — but it's probably going to come at a cost.
Will some remote workers accept a pay cut?
If people expect a pay boost to be called back to the office, does that mean they'd be willing to take a pay cut for the luxury of being able to stay home in their sweatpants?
It depends. As with anything, a lot hinges on individual workers' preferences. Some people might not care enough about remote work to sacrifice their compensation. Others might feel so strongly about the ability to work from home that they'd be willing to accept slightly lower pay.
But, nuances aside, in general, it seems that many workers are willing to compromise on their paychecks if it means they have the option for remote work:
Nearly 50% of U.S. workers say they would accept a 5% pay cut if it meant they could keep working remotely at least part-time after the pandemic.
A separate study found that 38% of U.S. workers would take an even higher pay cut of 10% to work remotely full-time. 15% of workers would take a 25% pay cut.
Another study found that 61% of workers would take a pay cut to keep working remotely. 70% said they'd even give up their benefits like health insurance, paid time off, and retirement savings if they could continue with remote work.
It's proof that most employees place a high value (quite literally) on the flexibility to work from where they like.
What benefits or disadvantages do hybrid workers get in terms of salary?
It's tough to say whether remote or hybrid work is good or bad news for salaries. Let's take a closer look at a few money-related benefits and drawbacks that workers should consider.
Remote or hybrid work salary advantages:
Ability to relocate: As mentioned earlier, remote workers have greater flexibility to relocate to areas with lower living costs. That's not an option with a hybrid model where they might need to head to the office occasionally. But in companies where they have the option to be completely remote, they can stretch their dollars further in other areas.
Lower costs: No costly commute. No office-appropriate wardrobe. No stopping for a large coffee on the way to the office. No repeated takeout or dining out for lunches. Remote or even hybrid workers might have lower daily costs associated with their work.
Remote or hybrid work salary disadvantages:
Less visibility: Career advancement is one of the main concerns for people who take the option to work remotely. Will less face-to-face time with their boss hurt their chances for promotions and raises? It's possible. Research shows that remote workers are less likely to get promoted than their in-office colleagues. Less opportunity to climb the ladder could mean lower pay long-term.
Office expenses: Remote workers might not have the commute or pricey lunches, but they're bound to have some other expenses to make working from home more feasible — whether it's a better desk setup, a second monitor, or an ergonomic desk chair. Some employers offer stipends to cover these costs, and some states have even gone so far as to require companies to foot the bill for those expenses. But if you're stuck covering those yourself, it's a salary disadvantage worth considering.
What do the world's biggest businesses think about remote vs. office salaries?
When it comes to company culture, benefits, and policy shifts, many people look to the decisions made by some of the largest and most renowned employers.
They may or may not be footsteps you want to follow in — but let's take a look at how Facebook and Google are handling the discrepancy between remote salaries and office salaries.
What is the situation with Facebook remote work salaries?
Facebook wants to lead the charge in remote working and announced in 2021 that employees whose jobs could be done remotely could continue to work from home even after the pandemic.
It sounds like a major step in the right direction in terms of worker flexibility. But there might be a catch: Workers could take a pay cut to their base salary if they take advantage of their remote work status and relocate to a less expensive area.
"Our policy here has been for years — is already — that [compensation] varies by location," Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a live stream to employees. "We pay a market rate, and that varies by location. We're going to continue that principle here."
To put it simply: If an existing employee moves to a market with a lower cost of living, they might see a pay decrease.
It remains to be seen if Facebook will actually follow through on that strategy, but it certainly alarmed some employees who could potentially feel punished for taking advantage of the company's touted remote work benefits.
Is Google cutting salaries for remote workers?
Facebook isn't alone. Google released a hybrid work plan that detailed something similar — employees who relocate to less-expensive areas might face a pay cut (anywhere from 5% to a whopping 25%).
That said, Google also says it will increase employee pay if they move to a more costly area like New York or Mountain View.
Even so, critics say location-based pay is a mistake and demoralizing to employees. After all, companies can't proudly proclaim a "we don't care where you get your work done!" philosophy while basing employees’ pay on that exact factor.
Plus, since remote workers are likely saving their employers' money on office space and other on-site perks, why should they be punished in the process?
What are other well-known companies doing?
Facebook and Google had some of the more publicized decisions and strategies, but several other companies (particularly in tech) have announced plans to adjust workers' compensation based on location. These include, but certainly aren't limited to:
Slack will allow employees to work from home forever, but again, doing so could involve a hit to their paycheck
Stripe offered a $20,000 bonus to employees who move away from major metropolitan areas like New York, San Francisco, or Seattle — but that bonus came with a 10% reduction to their pay
What alternatives have been suggested?
Both Facebook and Google seem to subscribe to the idea of location-based pay, which is exactly what it sounds like: Employers decide the compensation of employees based on where they reside and what the typical cost of living is there.
While that might help companies save some dollars on workers who choose to relocate to lower-cost areas, it can also be a point of contention — and even inspire some top-performers to hit the road.
The other alternative is value-based pay (which you might also hear referred to as location-independent pay), where employees are paid based on what they contribute to the organization.
It might seem like that involves pulling a feel-good number out of a hat. However, value-based pay actually involves looking at the market rate for the role as well as the employee's level of experience to set a competitive (but still reasonable) salary for that specific position.
No approach is perfect, and value-based pay isn't totally without its flaws, but it at least prevents any remote workers from feeling reprimanded from choosing to live in more affordable cities.
Others are proponents of universal basic income (UBI), which means that people would get a cash payment from the government as a guaranteed base income of sorts.
While this modest payment might help offset some very small discrepancies based on where people live, experts note that it's not the same thing as a job salary — it's best described as "a floor to stand on, not a safety net."
What does the future look like for remote workers?
Remote work might be here to stay — but that doesn't mean it'll look exactly the same well into the future. Here are five predictions for how remote work (and work in general) will continue to evolve over the coming years.
1. Remote work will continue to increase
First things first, remote work isn't just a current trend that we'll see hold steady. In fact, we're likely to see it make large gains.
It's estimated that a whopping 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days each month by 2025. So, we'll see it become less of an exception and more of a rule.
2. Hybrid work options will become more prevalent
While remote work continues to gain steam, it's not the only option. There are still people who enjoy working in an office and benefit from that environment.
For that reason, we'll see more hybrid work — an arrangement that gives employees the autonomy to decide where they want to get their work done, whether that's remotely, in the office, or a mix of both.
In fact, hybrid work is the preferred location by 59% of employees, putting it way ahead of exclusively remote or fully on-site locations.
3. Companies will shift to remote-first philosophies
Because we'll see more flexibility with work locations, employers will prioritize remote tools — particularly digital communication technologies — to enable people to work and collaborate from anywhere.
But now, organizations will shift to being remote-first, meaning remote work will be their assumed default way of working, and all of their policies, tools, and decisions will be built around remote work.
4. Company cultures will focus on results
With remote or hybrid work arrangements, managers can no longer easily check who's at their desks or peer over employees' shoulders to see what they're working on.
Leaders will need to have a high degree of trust in employees. Many organizations will switch to results- or outcome-based cultures, where the emphasis is on what people are producing and accomplishing without paying close attention to the time they're putting in to make it happen.
Put simply, this approach means that companies focus more on results than clock-watching.
5. Company policies will change and evolve
Some organizations have already refined their remote or hybrid work strategies. Others are figuring them out as they go along.
That means there's bound to be some shifts and growing pains across the board as employers figure out how to best support and empower their teams in this "new normal."
From changing tools and software to tweaks to paid time off policies, employers and employees alike will need to remain adaptable as they determine the best way forward for their unique team.
A bird's-eye view of projects so that everybody understands what's happening (and how it all fits together)
Integrations, templates, and automations to save time, errors, and stress
Centralized communication so that important notes and updates don't get buried or missed
Boosted accountability with clear task assignments and deadlines
With Wrike, things don't get lost in the shuffle. Everybody has instant and intuitive visibility into the organization's goals, priorities, and projects so that they're not only in the loop but can actively contribute — regardless of whether they're home on the couch or at the next desk over.