Google's plans to cut the pay of staff working from home is anti-Google

Only a few years ago, the idea of primarily working from home was staunchly disliked by large companies. However, one global pandemic later, those who have the capacity to do so are working from home. It’s been one of the defining changes of this pandemic, and many companies will push towards a future in which staff can work from home, apart from Google.

Numerous companies want to fight the cultural work from home shift. Google, which had previously been supportive of work from home policies in the workplace, will reportedly cut the wages of some staff who decide to work from home. It isn’t just by a small amount either, as some members of staff could see almost 25% of their wages cut for choosing to work from home. There’s so many reasons why this is wrong, and sets a bad precedent for the rest of the tech industry. 

Output should inform pay 

The concept of working a 9 - 5 job is an antiquated ideal that was accurate a few decades ago. However, we are increasingly expected to work around those hours, as many people work before and after their shift. This idea that businesses pay us for our work between 9am and 5pm is wrong, as work now dominates our daily lives. Google’s idea that staff should only be paid more money for completing the work onsite is indicative of this mindset. 

In reality, pay should be informed by your output. Whether you are working from home or in the office, as long as the job is done, it shouldn’t matter. Therefore, yearly or semi-annual reviews exist. It obviously varies on a person-to-person basis, as some people do work better in the office. However, unless someone’s work output is severely affected by their move, then pay should not be affected in the slightest. 

For many people, working from home can actually make them far more productive. Rather than long commutes, employees can focus on striking a better work-life balance. In the UK, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that poor work-life leads to stress and overworking. A survey of over 5,000 people found that 60% work longer hours than they want, and that 24% overwork by more than ten hours per week. A quarter of those surveyed even said they have a hard time relaxing because they think about work. Overworked and stressed employees are not productive, and commuting time is often a big part of that. 

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Tech is supposed to be the leader

Tech, and Google specifically, have always been leaders in pushing the concept of a modern workplace. Less than ten years ago, Google was forward thinking enough it built a culture around sharing ideas from all levels. Staff happiness was always a prominent focus. Google was even known for its many staff perks, including pool tables, free food and even gym memberships. Happy employees are productive employees, and Google understood this at one time.

Responding to the reports, Google simply confirmed that employee wages are based on location. It neither confirmed nor denied that some staff might lose up to 25% of their wages. It’s not an impressive look for a company that was once at the forefront of facilitating a forward-thinking work culture. “Our compensation packages have always been determined by location, and we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from,” commented a Google spokesperson.

As the world inevitably shifts towards a more home focused work-life balance, it would make sense for Google to lead this shift. Rather than punishing employees for preferring to work from home, facilitate what works best for employees individually. The technology is there to allow many of us to do our jobs from home, and Google should embrace that. 

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The ability to work from home is far more inclusive, and Google should embrace it for this reason. As a society, we are now more aware of disabilities that might limit a person’s ability to travel. Working from home initiatives that pay a great salary encourage a wider pool of candidates to apply. This creates a workplace more representative of our society. 

Google has always been open about its attempts at creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Cutting the pay of those who have to travel further, or might not travel due to physical or mental limitations, is the opposite of inclusive. It sends a simple message that you must travel, or face losing money for deciding to work from home. 

Hopefully Google will reconsider its stance on this subject, as it’s an unfair situation to put staff in. Many will probably be anxious about returning to the office amidst the ongoing global pandemic. Infact, forcing people back into the office is the opposite of great, and not what Google is supposed to stand for.

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