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Do Remote Workers Get Paid Less? Debunking the Myth

Remote work, in which employees are able to work from locations outside of their company’s main offices, has surged in popularity in recent years for many reasons. For example, remote work provides companies with a chance to hire talent from anywhere in the world, while also accommodating employees’ work flexibility needs. Despite the tremendous potential of remote work, there is a widely held belief that remote workers today tend to earn less than their non-remote counterparts. While there is some evidence to support the idea that remote workers may earn less due to their flexible work situations, this is not always the case. In this blog post, we will debunk the myth that remote workers get paid less than traditional office workers.

Why the Myth Exists

Remote work has long been associated with freelance or gig work, which typically pays less than salaried positions. In fact, many remote workers start as freelancers before transitioning to full-time positions. This financial gap may have contributed to the perception that remote workers are paid less than their office-based colleagues.

Others may make the tacit assumption that remote workers receive less pay because of their unconventional work situation. The idea is that since remote workers may have more flexible schedules and workspaces, they may accept lower pay to compensate for the uncertainties that come with such an arrangement. However, the lack of understanding around remote work compensation is, in and of itself, a factor that has contributed to the perpetuation of this myth.

The Reality of Remote Work Compensation

There seems to be no evidence supporting the notion that remote workers earn less than office workers. Although there are some remote work jobs that offer lower pay than in-office ones, the same can be said for traditional office work jobs. This all depends on several factors like industry, region, company size, and necessary skills for the position.

According to a 2019 report by Buffer, one of the few fully-remote social media management companies, the median annual pay for remote workers is $60,000. In comparison, the median annual pay for non-remote workers is $50,000. These statistics show that remote work salaries are not necessarily lower than their in-office counterparts.

Moreover, a 2020 report by Upwork shows that freelancers that work remotely have an hourly rate of $26 on average, compared to $24 for those that work on-site. The report also indicates that higher-earning freelancers usually have more technical skills and seek meaningful work, regardless of whether their job is remote or non-remote.

However, it’s worth noting that remote work compensation can vary widely based on the job and industry. For instance, Fortune-500 companies tend to pay more than start-ups and small companies that are less well-established in their respective markets. Similarly, jobs that require specific technical skills or education can have a high pay even if they’re remote work positions. Remote work is much more common in certain industries like technology, software engineering, or digital marketing, which could also impact compensation trends.

Benefits of Remote Work Compensation

Attracting and retaining top talent

Remote work offers a great opportunity for companies to hire talent from all over the world. Companies that transition to remote work or start with a remote hiring process can access a much larger and diverse talent pool. They have the chance to hire people from all backgrounds, with different perspectives, skillsets, and knowledge, with the added bonus of having access to people who wouldn’t necessarily work for a company if they had to be in the office every day.

By opening up their hiring processes to remote work, companies can attract employees that would not otherwise consider working for them. Workers in today’s economy often prioritize flexibility and work-life balance over a higher salary. By offering remote work options, companies can recruit and retain talent that values these work arrangements more than in-office employees.

Improved Productivity and Work-Life Balance

Remote workers are often more productive and happier than their office-based counterparts. The lack of structure that comes with working remotely can take some getting used to, but it can create a more engaging work environment that encourages greater productivity. The flexibility in setting up your work environment may enable workers to work at the hours they feel most productive or to take breaks during the day to work out or spend time with family while still meeting their project deadlines.

Additionally, remote workers don’t have to worry about the costs or time required to commute to work on a daily basis, which boosts their productivity and helps to improve their mental health. Remote workers may be able to better manage their work-life balance by choosing their own work environment and schedule, enabling them to be more present in their personal life.

Cost Savings

Remote work doesn’t require traditional office spaces, which can significantly reduce a company’s overhead costs. This could enable companies to offer their workers a more competitive salary, considering that most of the work will get done without requiring office space, equipment, or any other office-related expenses.

Remote workers, in turn, can save on commuting and transportation costs. Saving on the cost of commuting can be significant, considering that in some cities, people can spend more than a thousand dollars a month on transportation alone. Remote work may enable workers to purchase or rent properties outside of congested cities since the work environment is so flexible.


In summary, remote work salaries vary widely by industry, company size, skills required, and other factors, but across the board, remote workers do not earn less than traditional office workers. In fact, they often earn slightly more on average. Remote work offers employers an opportunity to attract a diverse and global talent pool, improve employee productivity and work-life balance, and achieve cost-savings in a way that is sustainable and beneficial. Remote workers can benefit from greater autonomy, better flexibility in their work life, and cost savings. The future of work is clearly remote because of these many advantages, and workers can feel confident in the fact that their salaries will be on par with those offered by office-based employers.

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