n August 2021, the BBC reported that Google US are intending to reduce the pay of staff that opt into permanently work from home. This approach to working was previously dismissed and waved away by the corporate world, however, the pandemic certainly opened everyone’s eyes about the perks of working from home. Of course, there have been scenarios where working from an office, sitting in Conference Room 3, and chatting about plans and progress being made, without needing to be concerned about laggy wi-fi, yelling toddlers, or cameos from pets that don’t understand personal space, is ideal.
Having to work from home has, however, improved the working experience for some. A friend of mine, who was on furlough, earlier in the pandemic, informed me that the eighty percent pay she was making through the scheme, was still more than she was earning, after subtracting commuter costs. So simply imagining the perks of full pay, sans the cost of the commute is eye-opening. Not only about the ___ of the cities, and commuter towns, ghost towns during the working day, because the majority of the population work elsewhere.
Working from home, and having the flexibility to manipulate your working experience is a great aspect of agile working, which was highlighted by Anne Cantelo during her 2017 TED Talk: Agile working: an innovation in the way we work. She acknowledged numerous benefits in working from home from a corporate standpoint, and I’m sure, considering the way businesses have had to cope with the pandemic, many workers probably have a working from home horror story.
But, is it moral for Google to do this? The argument is no, as by cutting the pay of individuals who favour working from home, you may reduce the finances being given to large families, people with disabilities, or people who live on the poverty line. This is striking considering the fact that these troubling times have been a prime motivator to encourage empathetic and understanding leadership techniques. Would managers want to see Katherine, a single mum of three they’ve been watching on Zoom for the last eighteen months, her face getting more and more sunken, as the months pass on, have even less money to put food on the table. School is expensive, whether you’re teaching from the kitchen table, or your kids are in a classroom. Uniform, increased use of electricity and wi-fi, the pandemic highlighted these things tenfold, and although Katherine’s manager has no authority to make sure she’d be paid the same as her colleagues, if she decided to keep working from home, how would she feel? In short, awful.
Fortunately for the workers in the UK, a contract cannot be changed in this format without the consent of each individual employee, meaning that your work cannot pull the carpet out from underneath you. But, be aware of rehiring schemes, where an individual fires their employees, only to rehire them, have them sign new contracts, where this information may lie, and hope others are merely skimming, trapping employees between a rock and a hard place.
Perhaps in the future, companies having two different pay rates, one for in-person workers, and one for those who work from home, will be normalised, but making such a rapid and seemingly radical change now, especially since Google never ceased to pay their workers 100% of their gross pay, does not appear the most employee-friendly.
Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.
He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.
The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.
To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org