4 Ways To Prepare For The Remote Work "Income Disruption"

Some remote workers have not fully considered potential salary ramifications.

Over the last year, we've all spent a lot of time wrapping our heads around the transition to remote work and the potential benefits to employees.

However, many professionals have forgotten to take into account that remote work could have a significant impact on their earning potential if they plan on relocating.

Some companies, particularly large companies based in cities with high costs of living, are starting to reassess their pay scales and how much money can be saved by lowering salaries of those that opt to work from home and live in places with a lower cost of living. Plenty of companies have already made adjustments.

This could lead to a significant income disruption for remote workers.

In addition, remote work opens up the opportunity for companies to bring in more global talent for less than it would cost to pay American workers. One executive recently told me that she can hire three employees with PhDs for the price of one in the U.S.

This is going to take an already competitive job market to another level, especially as the interest and opportunities in remote work continue to increase. A recent FlexJobs survey had some eye-opening figures:

  • 65% of workers want to continue working remotely full-time after COVID-19
  • 58% of workers say they would look for a new job if they weren't allowed to work remotely
  • 37% of remote workers would definitely consider relocating if their remote position was secured

With so much interest in remote work positions, I'm concerned that not every professional has properly prepared for the prospect of their income being adjusted downward, and how to approach such a conversation.

Now more than ever all professionals need to start thinking of themselves as a business-of-one. We're all commodities that provide services to our employers. With that in mind, here are four ways that remote workers can prepare themselves for discussions about having their income adjusted.

Continue To Do Your Research

A professional writes down some notes while researching salary.


When it comes to any type of salary negotiation, I preach research like a broken record. If you don't know what you're worth, you don't have a leg to stand on.

Take a look at the marketplace for your services right now and see how competitive it is. If there are a lot of people in your field or getting into your field, you should expect that your income levels could go down unless you have some kind of specialty that is extremely valuable and rare.

If you do possess such a quality, now is the time to build on it and incorporate it into your personal brand. If you don't, try to think outside of the box and find ways to make yourself stand out, or put together a plan to upskill or learn some new skills.

It's also important to be aware of what salaries are in your local market. One site you may have not heard of, Comparably, offers extensive information and resources to help you figure this out.

Focus On The Value You Provide


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The value an employee provides isn't just based on showing up to work every day and fulfilling job responsibilities. It's finding ways both within and outside that job to make the company money.

It's important to build up a relationship with your employer based on all of the headaches you relieve them from and all the tasks that you have taken off your manager's plate.

Start making a list of all the times you provided value to the company. Quantifiable examples with numbers and statistics work the best. The more specific value you give them, the less likely they'll want to drop your salary and potentially lose you.

Prove That You're More Valuable As A Remote Employee

A businesswoman works with intense focus from her home office.


Can you quantify that you're creating more value as a remote worker?

If so, market the value that working remotely provides in the type of work that you do.

For example, does having fewer distractions and interruptions make it easier for you to do more work in less time, and even take on additional responsibilities? Does the increased flexibility, and lack of commute, make you more productive and available to the employer?

This is an opportunity to really flip things around on the employer and show them that working from home is going to provide the company with more value, and ultimately make the company money.

Figure Out What Your Employer Values

An executive team discusses what the shift to remote work means for the business.


Pay attention to what executives in your organization are saying with respect to remote work. Companies that really value it and want to work with you on this won't want to disincentivize you.

Other companies that are seeing it as a cost savings and realize that they can get a lot of talent to work remotely are the ones that are going to be decreasing the salaries. It's important for you to figure out where your company sides on this issue because if it's not on the right side you may want to start looking for a different employer.

BONUS TIP: Keep An Open Mind

Every situation is different and there could be scenarios where employees are willing to take an income reduction in order to live where they want. Another FlexJobs survey noted that the average person can save around $4,000 a year working remotely by cutting out costs for commuting, work clothes, and food and coffee.

For some professionals, those cost savings combined with generous, or enhanced, employee benefits packages make them more willing to take a pay cut.

Even if you're willing to take a pay cut, never go into salary discussion unprepared. Being unprepared means that your employer could take advantage of you. All professionals need to know their value at all times.

Remote work is a game-changer and it will continue to be for some time. On a daily basis, we learn about new benefits, challenges, and unintended consequences of this new landscape.

Don't be blindsided by any of it! Everyone needs to be constantly thinking about how they create value and can differentiate themselves in what is going to become a very competitive workplace.

Man on laptop enjoys summer while working full time

There you are: sitting on the beach, covered in sunscreen, reading your favorite book, drinking your favorite drink under the cool shade of an umbrella. Life doesn't get any better than this. Suddenly, a door slams, a phone rings, a printer turns on. You jolt back into consciousness. You're at work, sitting in your cubicle, without even a hint of sunshine streaming in from outside.

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