Jessica Goodfellow
Aug 23, 2021

'Unfair' and 'demotivating': APAC adland not enthusiastic about location-adjusted salaries

SPOT SURVEY RESULTS: Most in the industry believe location-adjusted salaries do not take into account the financial and productivity benefits that companies reap from remote workers. Nearly a third of Campaign survey respondents who work in the industry said such policies would drive them out of their companies.

'Unfair' and 'demotivating': APAC adland not enthusiastic about location-adjusted salaries

A majority of people in the Asia-Pacific ad industry would like to work from home most of the time but are unwilling to take a salary cut to do so, according to a spot survey of Campaign Asia-Pacific readers who work within the advertising, marketing, communications and technology industry.

The survey, conducted from Thursday (August 19) through this morning, sought to understand work preferences in the industry in APAC, and whether staff would be willing to sacrifice their benefits in order to work remotely.

The topic has become a source of debate since Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have revealed plans to reduce the salaries of those who relocate outside their main office locations and who wish to work from home permanently. Workers face a 10% pay cut if they are fully remote and move one hour or more away from the office, according to a Google pay calculator.

Such policies would be unpopular in APAC, according to the survey. Well over half (57%) of those who completed Campaign's survey said they would not consider taking a salary cut to work from home permanently, compared to 11% who stated they would be willing. A third (32%) are open to the suggestion, depending on how severe the reduction would be.

The resistance is greater when it comes to location-based salaries. When asked if they would be willing to take a salary cut to live outside the city in which their company is based, a mere 5% said yes. A quarter said it depends on the severity of the cut, while a vast majority (70%) were a resolute no.

Most survey respondents called such policies "unfair" and "demotivating". One called it "predatory big tech behaviour". Base salaries are calculated on skill, effort and value which are unaffected by a worker's location, respondents pointed out.

"I think remunerations should be based on the value of an employee's contribution to the company, not where they do their work," one respondent cited.

"We are not offered salaries based on do we stay far or near office in the first place, so this argument doesn't make sense," another said. "An employee, whether they work from home or the office, has to commit and get the work done by the deadlines."

For many, working from home means improved productivity and longer working hours: "They are spending less time commuting to work and socialising in the office".

"Work from home in most cases would decrease stress for employees and in turn increase productivity and efficiency," another respondent said.

Several pointed out that companies can save on overhead costs like electricity and by reducing office space when a proportion of workers are remote. Meanwhile, employees who work from home often have to pay for their own setup, internet and energy bills.

"In both ways the employee will be paying for something for their work," one respondent wrote. "If they stay home full-time, the cost of utilities will increase and WFH equipments such as printers will need to be purchased/upgraded. If they were to go office, the cost is spent on transport/time/clothes. Assuming that everyone is able to work comfortably at home like they do in office is discrimination. My point stands for company-wide deductions without presenting a choice to their employees."

Another survey-taker said, "What nonsense! Should be paying us more in fact, for all the electricity and overtime spent."

Another respondent suggested that living expenses don't reduce significantly in some markets: "It totally depends on which area to live in. While my commute takes one hour to Tokyo, it doesn't make much difference in terms of living expenses."

One respondent predicted location-based salaries "would create unnecessary conflict between employees and management". Another suggested that companies might look to "recruit cheap labour from people living in poor countries, which will destabilise local economies".

Others who were open to the policy said it would be "justified" if it took into account the cost of commuting to work. Some pointed out that remote work doesn't always translate to improved productivity: "Remote work has significantly slowed down delivery speeds and growth," one respondent stated.

More than one-quarter (29%) of respondents said they would resign or consider resigning if their company instituted a salary reduction depending on their home address and work preferences. Some said they would unionise and ask their companies to have an open discussion with employees. A handful said they would relocate closer to the office.

The results show that location-agnostic salaries and flexible working arrangements could serve as a competitive advantage for hiring and retention, especially for those seeking a diverse workforce.

"A hybrid work environment is the way to go, and any company that doesn't adapt simply won't have great talent on their roster," wrote one survey respondent.

But it is important to note that such policies would only apply to about 16% of the industry who stated they would choose to work from home full-time post-pandemic. The industry favours a mixture—more than half (51%) would like to work from home most of the time, while one quarter (24%) selected an even split of office and home work. A much smaller proportion (8%) said they would prefer working from the office most of the time, and none chose the option to work from the office full-time.

Elsewhere, the survey revealed a strong desire for working holidays—perhaps unsurprising after more than 18 months of restrictions. An overwhelming majority (90%) of the industry stated they would like the option to work from another country for a period time.

Such insights are useful when most companies are still formulating their flexible work policies, according to half (49%) of survey respondents. One third (32%) stated their company already has a policy in place that allows them to choose how they work, while 19% said they have no policy in place. Only 10% respondents said their company has or is working on a policy to calculate salaries based on location and work preference.

The spot survey was completed by 50 people from across the advertising, marketing, communications and technology industry.

Source:
Campaign Asia

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