updates: we have to take a pay cut to work from home, part-time admin with full-time job, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

1. My office says we can keep working from home if we take 5% pay cuts

Thank you for publishing my question and your thoughtful response. I was half convinced that I was being entitled with how mad I was over the pay cut.

 don’t believe I mentioned in my original letter that there was some push back over the pay cut when it was announced. I personally complained loudly to whoever would listen and so did a few others. The first response was that the cut was fair and basically we could take it or leave it. I was planning to take the cut so I could stay remote while starting a serious job search. Others I knew were planning to do the same.

Then, out of nowhere, a couple of days after we had to turn in our remote paperwork we received an email saying there would no longer be a pay cut to be remote. Our options would be either hybrid, going in the office three days a week, or fully remote. Within a month or so they changed the remote option so when you apply to be remote you indicate if you plan to go in 0, 1 or 2 days a week. There is now a bonus (about $80 a month before taxes) for those who work in the office, as long as they go in at least three days a week for an entire year. I believe a number of people have since applied to be fully remote and others were happy to have the one or two day option. I assume those going in three times a week or more are in the minority now. I’m sure I’ll never know why the pay cut was dropped, but I am thankful!

2. Our part-time admin got a full-time job and wants to do both

My question was posted a few months ago, when a recently-hired PT administrative assistant took a FT job and has tried to juggle both. The headline is that all is well – she’s still with us, and it’s very rare that I get concerned about prioritization. In fact, her FT job has actually ramped down and after a rescheduled meeting or two at the beginning, it’s working out great.

The contract is just for 1 year, so I imagine we’ll work out the rest of the contract, and take my learnings about setting super specific expectations (‘the timing is flexible but at least half will need to be during business hours’ or whatever it might be), which was the most helpful feedback from the comments.

3. My father is frustrated that I don’t have a paying position yet (first update here)

I wrote in 2012 about my job hunt. I was interning in the field I wanted to work in, my dad said that an actual paying job would look better on my resume even if it was not in my field, and I was looking for advice on whether or not he was right. I believe I noted that he didn’t work in HR but had been involved in a lot of hiring decisions because he had been with his agency for a long time and was very well-respected, and his field was not at all related to what I studied or my career goals.

Well what do you know, jump forward ten years and I work the same job he did for over thirty years. I’ve been in it for well over five years now. We work for different agencies at different levels of government and in very different parts of the country (not the US) but it’s still all the same skills. I have now started to specialize in a different type of role. We’re not nurses but it would be something equivalent to him working in the ER department at a busy hospital, while I started my career in the ER at a small-town/rural hospital and am now moving into a public health nursing role if that makes sense? Now that I have this new role, I get to use a lot of the skills that I went to school for and am excited to be applying them in this career. My pre-this-job education background is very different from a lot of other people who work in this field so it has helped open some unique doors for me. I finished a related masters degree a couple years ago and it will likely allow some advancement or transfers to new/more desirable locations in the future too.

I have also learned over the years I have been in this job just how good my dad was at it. (He is retired now.) It’s one of those things that is hard to understand how good someone is or how advanced their skills are until you have experience in it yourself and know how hard it can be. Just last night I had a long conversation with him about a work issue that I am trying to sort out and he provided some great insight for resolving it that I applied today. Maybe all of his job hunting advice wasn’t spot-on ten years ago but I am very glad that I eventually followed him into this career and happy to take his advice now! I am sure that ten-years-ago-me would never believe my update today.

(I also want to note for anyone reading nepotism into this that he didn’t hire me or contribute to me getting into this job. I work at a different agency with a different hiring process in a very different part of the country, and there isn’t any overlap at the levels he was at / I am at. Also, although there is a path that a lot of people take to get into this job, there is also no specific education always required. So me having a different educational background has been a definite plus for the agency I work at because I came into it needing less training in some areas than my coworkers and with unique skills.)

4. Wedding invitation from my boyfriend’s employee’s daughter

I have an update, albeit not a very exciting one. I wrote in a while ago asking if it was weird to be invited to an employees daughter’s wedding. The wedding has since been pushed back, we’ve decided we won’t attend. But, we also got invited to the bridal shower! We’ve RSVPd no for both and will send a gift and card. I added in the comments that I thought it was odd because this employee has a history of bold(?) invites. We were invited to Christmas dinner this year as well.

{ 90 comments… read them below }

  1. LavaLamp(she/her)*

    I’d love to know how they thought the pay cut would work out; and I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when they realized it needed to be rescinded.

    1. Kes*

      I feel like management wanted to encourage people to work in the office and decided this was the best plan and then someone else in management finally got involved and pointed out that this a morale killer and giving a bonus for being in the office looks a lot better than trying to take away money from people’s existing salaries.

    2. OP#1*

      I also would love to know!! But I think this will stay one of life’s mysteries. I still can’t believe they got rid of the cut. I thought for sure they were going to tell us to go kick rocks if we kept complaining.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        After looking at it, it seems to me that they re-branded their approach a bit. Incentives for accepting a hybrid approach rather than punishment for working remotely. It’s not quite the same, especially in the short run, but it does look better, and accomplishes their goal.

        1. quill*

          Crucially it also isn’t lowering existing compensation for a job which has had no reduction in duties or hours… probably why it went over much better.

      2. Dhaskoi*

        I suspect someone in management was smart enough to realize that if they went through with the cut a lot of people would execute your wfh-and-job-search plan.

    3. JustaTech*

      I know some big tech companies have sort-of done a pay cut for remote employees, but it’s really more of a cost-of-living adjustment (down). Folks who live at the major offices that are in crazy expensive locations (NYC, SF) have their salary increased to sort-of make up for the cost of living, so folks who moved to places with much lower costs of living like Iowa or something, had that bonus removed.

      But they were super up-front about it months in advance, and it only applied to people who moved to genuinely less expensive places.

  2. François Caron*

    For #1, the company probably received a few too many letters of resignation and quickly realised they were about to go out of business due to a self-inflicted labour shortage.

    1. Sunflower*

      Probably this. My utility bills have gone up since working from home so I would job hunt if my pay is cut.

    2. Antilles*

      Absolutely.
      Or at the very least, they heard enough pushback for one of the Powers That Be to convince the others that a mass exodus would be upcoming.

  3. What's in a name?*

    For number 4 was LW and the boyfriend invited to the bridal shower or just LW? It would be weird for only the LW to get it, but I like the idea of promoting co-gender showers (insert grumbles about MIL not listening to the requests of me and my wife).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! The wedding can make sense, but the shower is too… personal.

        Also, I fully support mixed-gender showers. Let’s stop pretending that only women are getting married/setting up a joint household/preparing for a baby.

        1. Snarktini*

          For real. On a purely selfish level, I will only go to mixed showers because then that means fewer/no dumb games. On a social level, it’s offensive to me that household/baby gifts are only for the woman.

          1. Dr. Vibrissae*

            Hmm, my experience has been that dumb games are not unique to single gender showers.

            1. Freelance Anything*

              I went to a shower a few years ago and we played hoops on (and for) a bottle of prosecco. One of the best dumb games I’ve ever played

            2. Splendid Colors*

              There are silly party games and there are cringey games full of innuendo because apparently a baby shower is the ladies’ equivalent of a stag party. At least that’s how my in-laws did them.

        2. Expelliarmus*

          As a child, I went to multiple baby showers with both of my parents. In my parents’ friend circles, everyone tends to invite their friends AND their families to a baby shower (same with grad parties). I don’t remember there being games; just blue and/or pink decor, a meal, and cake. I’m come to realize in my adulthood that this is not common though lol.

      2. PollyQ*

        Eh, depends on the relationship. It’s significantly weirder, IMO, to invite a parent’s boss to a wedding shower.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Nowadays, yes. But back when weddings were hosted by the bride’s parents, it was fairly common. They were being invited as part of the parents’ social circle.

          I remember my parents being invited to their friends’ or coworkers’ kids’ weddings back in the 80s. I don’t think that’s as common these days.

          1. The OG Sleepless*

            I was thinking that too; 30-40 years ago in my small town, that would have been very standard.

        2. doreen*

          I think it’s always been a little strange to invite bosses or coworkers to outside-the-office showers. People may invite bosses/coworkers to their own weddings or their kids’ weddings – but it’s common to have a smaller guest list for the shower and only invite close friends and relatives and not coworkers and softball teammates.

      3. Clisby*

        It’s not even the bride’s boss. If I understand the LW, her boyfriend is the boss of the bride-to-be’s parent.

    1. CoveredinBees*

      Maybe having mixed gender showers would make them more fun. Every single one I’ve been to was a snoozefest. Also, I’m sure this varies but in my community it seems like showers are seen as a way to invite parents’ and grandparents’ friends to something if they’re not being invited to the wedding. This definitely added to the boredom factor because it was a group of people I don’t know talking to each other about other people I don’t know. Never anything juicy, either.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        My cousin’s first wife is Dominican and her shower was not limited to women. He attended as did family members and friends who are or appeared to be male. It was a great time and I was really grateful he was there because I’d never met her or any of her family before.

    2. Op 4*

      We were both invited but both the shower and wedding are out of state and my bf has only met the bride once in passing

  4. Moonlight*

    For #4 I wonder if the husbands employee was not being bold at all. People are really weird about wedding invites. I had a grandma who was upset because I didn’t invite certain distant family members who I had never even met and who’s names I barely even knew. A friends mom expected to be able to invite a bunch of her friends and colleagues. In both cases, we said no, but in another family dynamic I could see someone wanting to be polite by inviting and thinking it’s “just what people do” or whatever.

    I’m glad you were able to make the right choice for you.

    1. Moonlight*

      Clarity; my fiends mom wanted to invite fiends/colleagues to my friends wedding, not my wedding haha

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        She was smart to say No to fiends. They always hog the dance floor & abuse the open bar.

    2. CoveredinBees*

      We got lucky with the people my husband’s parents and grandparents wanted to invite because they lived a long flight from the wedding location. This meant they got credit for inviting the people without busting our budget or venue size for people we’ve never met.

    3. Dr. Vibrissae*

      I wonder if there is some cultural difference at play with the invitations? My spouse is always game to invite anyone and everyone over if they are remotely friendly and we’re planning a big shindig (we’re in the southeast). Similarly, my mom was still inviting people to our wedding the month beforehand (friends of her’s I’d never met) because we already had a big venue and lots of food, so the more the merrier. (To clarify, she did most of the planning and paid for the wedding, and asked about inviting people I didn’t know. My feeling was if it meant more fun for her, why not?)

      1. Just Another Starving Artist*

        I think it’s both cultural and logistical. My Deep South friends where weddings are massive community shindigs with huge buffets and endless beer and wine? The more the merrier. The smaller, plated dinner “fancier” weddings some of my East Coast WASP friends had? Absolutely not; even if they wanted to have a more the merrier shindig, it wouldn’t make financial and logistical sense given the kind of reception they were having (and were expected to have).

        1. quill*

          You can invite more people to a backyard buffet (within reason) than you can to a “are you having the fish or the lamb?” pre-ordered event.

        2. Dr. Vibrissae*

          Yes, I didn’t want to infodump in my response, but I also live in the southeast and weddings are usually larger catered buffet or heavy appetizer type events, so the exact number of guests isn’t as important as the approximate size range. Inviting the boss may not be that unusual depending on where you live.

    4. braindump*

      It is ‘just what people did’ if they are of a certain age + certain social class. I went to a wedding 10 yrs ago and met a coworker of the mother of the bride. Weddings were social events for those paying the way more than just a celebration of the couple getting married. As more couples started funding their own weddings, those traditions went away.

      1. doreen*

        I think there are variables besides just “who paid for it”. My husband and I paid for our own wedding 35 years ago and my mother invited her friends – but they were people I had known my whole life. I’m certain it would have been different if my parents had moved/changed social circles a few times and I didn’t even know the friends she had when I was 24.

        1. whingedrinking*

          I know what you mean. My parents have a circle of friends who they’ve been close to for upwards of forty years and I’ve not only known them and their kids my whole life, I’ve probably spent more time with some of them than with people I’m actually related to. So if my parents wanted some of them to come to my wedding, it wouldn’t be weird at all. But I would balk, I think justifiably, at having people I didn’t know there.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      I received an invitation to my cousin’s wedding – address to only me. Not my (teenage/young adult) kids and no “and guest” (I’m single so that part’s not *that* surprising). I live in the Midwest and the wedding is in CO, this cousin is 20 years my junior and I don’t think I’ve ever met his fiancee, and neither of my kids could pick this cousin out of a lineup so I would be RSVPing “no” in any case, but there was a distinct “courtesy invite” vibe nonetheless, LOL.

    6. just another queer reader*

      +1 on people being weird about wedding invites!

      Enough of my close friends have gotten married recently that I’ve gotten to see the ~~drama~~ that inevitably ensues.

      1. allathian*

        Yes. All of my friends who married before I met my husband or while we were dating had big weddings. So did all of my husband’s friends who married before we met or while we were dating. My friends are decent people, so I wasn’t surprised that I got no pushback from any of them when we had a tiny wedding with just our immediate family members, and my sister and SIL as witnesses. But I admit that some of my husband’s normally somewhat pushy friends surprised me in a good way when they didn’t even joke about us not having a big wedding. I guess being 8 months pregnant when we got married helped a bit. I certainly was in no mood to organize anything more complicated than a coffee and cake reception at home.

        After we got married, two of my husband’s friends have had similar small weddings, with just immediate family members present, so maybe we started a trend!

    7. Everdene*

      Wedding invites are a nightmare. A whole branch of my husband’s family have not spoken to us since I didn’t invite his cousin’s girlfriend’s teenage kids that we had never met. Firstly, what teenager wants to attend a random persons wedding? Secondly, we still don’t know these kids names AND the cousin in question had already told us he didn’t want to bring his kids. Thirdly, family grapevine made it quite clear the relationship was on the rocks and probably wouldn’t still be in place by the time our wedding rolled around. Really sad though because MIL and her sister haven’t spoken since. Why you would want to invite extra people and cause extra drama is beyond me.

    8. Op 4*

      It’s more the Christmas dinner invite that was bold— but both the wedding and shower would be out of state and require a hotel stay

      1. NforKnowledge*

        Yeah, I was gonna say! Everyone so focused on the wedding invite that they overlooked the fact you were also invited for Christmas dinner! The mind boggles

      2. Squidlet*

        Maybe this employee has some really outdated ideas about workplace norms? 40+ years ago it seemed to be the done thing to invite your boss and his wife to your home for dinner, and have your wife play hostess. It was an opportunity to impress and maybe get that promotion. It was also common for the boss to invite employees (of a certain level) to cocktail parties at their homes. So much blurring of boundaries.

  5. The Rural Juror*

    With gas prices the way they are, I’d gladly forgo an $80 a month bonus to be able to go fully remote. I spend way more than that commuting (unfortunately, I’m in an area with limited public transportation).

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Shoot, I’m not even remotely rural, and spend nearly half of that a WEEK on commuting costs (@ $5 something a gallon…and I’m just going from one edge of suburban region to approximately the middle point of…)

      1. allathian*

        Mmm, yeah. Gas is currently about 2.4 euros per liter here, or about $9 per US gallon… It was a huge shock in November last year when the price topped 2 euros per liter for the first time. Prices are confidently expected to hit 3 euros per liter, or 11.4 USD/gallon, before the year is out.

    2. Moonlight*

      Even if you live in a mid-sized city like myself, if you live outside of the downtown core (it’s a radius, not just 1 street… it might be just basically the more suburban you get here!) the public transit is crappy. Like it would take me an 45 minutes to 1 hour AT LEAST to get somewhere I can drive in 10-15 minutes. I’d 100% forgo an $80 bonus to stay home… but like the OP is also be livid if my employer wanted to take away a percentage of my income to be remote, like, nah, you’re paying me $x to do a job, you can’t devalue that work based on my location… but if they want to pay $80/month bonus to come in, well, I still don’t think I’d be pleased but whatever, call it gas money for those who come in more and I’ll call it a day.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      Let’s call that $20 a week. $4 a day to skip the commute.

      That’s worth it even before looking at transport costs.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Oh shoot! I read it wrong. I thought that was after taxes. They might as well just say, “Hey, employees! We’ll buy you lunch once a week if you’ll come to the office! Not a nice lunch, though. Don’t get the guac, it’s extra. Sound good?”

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      $80 won’t even cover the cost of a monthly pass for mass transit where I live, so it wouldn’t pay for commuting costs in that way either. I suppose if you could bike to work and didn’t need to rent bike storage you might come out ahead? Or if you walked?

    5. Saberise*

      Even the 5% paycut would be cheaper than my going in every day. Currently I am in the office 1 day a week and we did the math. For me to go in all 5 days would end up costing us an additional $5k a year. Well more in a way since we can make due with one car now but with my husbands doctor appointments we would need to get a second car.

    1. Op 4*

      Yeah the Christmas dinner invite was too much for me, I told my bf in no uncertain terms that we would not be attending and he agreed also thinking it was weird to be invited

  6. Umiel12*

    LW#4, I’m just throwing this out there: you’re not expected to send a gift when you decline to attend an event. Of course, you’re certainly allowed to send one. Personally, I wouldn’t.

    1. Observer*

      Good point.

      But, if they can manage it, it’s probably a good idea as long as BF is in that role.

    2. Op 4*

      We opted to choose a simple gift from the registry because we could but if it was something we couldn’t afford I wouldn’t have felt bad not sending anything

    3. anonymous73*

      This. And I’d also like to add that if you’re invited to a destination wedding, a reasonable couple will not “expect” gifts. If I’m spending money to travel, my presence is your present.

      1. Saberise*

        The key word being reasonable. I’ve seen many times on the internet when people were called out for not spending “enough” on their gift after paying thousands to attend a destination wedding.

  7. Delta Delta*

    #1 – a 5% pay cut is quite a bit. An $80/month bonus isn’t very much. I suspect the company got rained on with resignations/refusals/feedback, and realized it made more sense to bonus the people who did want to come in. It’s kind of a crappy bonus, comparatively speaking, to the punitive level of a 5% pay cut.

  8. Doctors Whom*

    I can definitely see that there are some families in which these conversations will happen:

    “You need to be sure to invite your dad’s boss to your wedding.”
    “Why? I don’t know them.”
    “Because it’s polite. He’s your dad’s boss and we want to show respect.”
    *bride to be grumbles but appeases her parents*

    “Here MOH, here is the invite list. You need to make sure everyone local who was invited to the wedding gets invited to the shower.”
    “I don’t think Brunhilda knows her dad’s boss, are you sure they should be invited to the shower?”
    “No, it’s rude to not invite people to the shower if you invited them to the wedding.”
    *MOH grumbles and appeases MOB*

    I have *totally* been a bridesmaid in a wedding where there were discussions like this. I would just decline and send a card – but I would RSVP the decline ASAP so that if they are short on space they can invite someone else.

    1. Artemesia*

      I’d probably RSVP no to both but send a small wedding gift — not a shower gift. It is gross to invite people not close to the bride or groom to the shower.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes, & it sounds like they got it backwards: you aren’t required to invite everyone invited to the wedding to the shower, but you shouldn’t invite people to the shower who aren’t invited to the wedding. (Work showers have different rules, because they’re organized by co-workers, not the MOH. And they’re optional.)

    2. Clisby*

      “No, it’s rude to not invite people to the shower if you invited them to the wedding.”
      *MOH grumbles and appeases MOB*

      That’s backwards. It is rude to invite someone to the shower but not the wedding. It’s perfectly fine to invite them to a wedding without anyone inviting them to a shower.

  9. FalsePositive*

    On OP3 — your story about being able work through a tough work situation with your dad warms my Grinchy heart!

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Same! My dad and I used to work in the same industry and as much as I teased him about how people couldn’t hear my last name without asking if I was related to him, it was incredible to see how well thought of he is and understand from the inside just how good he is at what he does. (Now that his role is much closer to my old one he overlaps with people who knew me first and there’s a bit of payback, haha – “Oh, you’re AGY’s dad?”)
      We work in totally separate industries now, but sometimes I’ll do happy hour with him and his team if we’re in the same town and we have a blast talking shop. It’s a really cool thing to be able to share and I’m glad OP gets to share it, too.

  10. ScoobyDon't*

    I’m a remote worker. Some of my colleagues have jobs that require them to be onsite, and many of them have been vocal about the pay disparity that the cost of gas has created. I’d be paying $80 a week in gas if I had my old commute.

    This is something we’ll need to reconcile.

    1. OP#1*

      If at all possible, I would like to see places offsetting commuting costs. Gas cards or reimbursement for public transportation or some such thing would be nice. I am sure most places are not going to be willing to take those sorts of steps, though.

  11. AnonymousReader*

    LW#1 – It’s still a pay cut because you’re making $80 less than the coworkers that are going to the office. Your office just found a better way to frame it. I don’t know how much you earn but assuming you earn $1520 and your equal earns $1600, you are making 5% less performing the same job. Just something to keep in mind for future pay incentives (although there is nothing wrong with accepting less if you feel the time and effort to commute is worth forfeiting the incentive).

    1. another Hero*

      Except it’s factually not a pay cut, it’s those who go in getting a pay increase. If OP is thinking about their salary in relative terms to their colleagues, ok, but if OP is thinking about their salary in absolute terms, this doesn’t require adjusting their budget, wouldn’t mean they’d have to report less to a future job that insisted on salary history, etc. if the bonus is used as an excuse to decrease raises or something, there’s a problem, but the bonus to other colleagues just isn’t a pay cut.

    2. Carrie Bradshaw*

      Time and effort aside, what about the costs to commute? $80/month is hardly an incentive to drive into work or take public transportation. When I was going into the office I spent $100/month for the train. It would be even higher for someone driving. I pay an extra $20/month in utilities but save so much more eating at home and cutting out commute costs.

    3. OP#1*

      It’s not a cut because we are all still geting our original pay. People who choose to go in will get a bonus, but that is contingent on them going in at least 3 days a week for a year. Anyone who chooses to go in (or has to for the positions that can’t be remote) is welcome to that money. It isn’t enough to actually be a real incentive, to be honest. Gas prices being what they are, $80 a month basically offsets your gas if you’re lucky. If I was to want to spend more time on my commute and take the bus, I’d be losing about $50 a month. So, my “bonus” would come out to $30 a month. I would rather stay home and not have a commute than take a few extra dollars and have to go in.

      1. Don't Forget To Mute The Zoom*

        Your company is allowing some people to work from home at the same pay rate while you have people required to come into the office and they are making $20 a week more? As someone who was required to be onsite for the last few years, this is so incredibly insulting and I am saddened that your colleagues didn’t have a similarly outraged reaction with how unfair it is. We treat essential people like total garbage so that that those working from home can be placated. I am so tired of it.

  12. toolittletoolate*

    Glad your company realized that cutting somebody’s pay for working remotely wasn’t the right path. However, I’d keep my eyes open and see if new hires for remote work aren’t seeing a slightly lower starting salary offered. I think companies have figured out that remote work is desirable and the urge to monetize that desire in reduced personnel costs will be difficult to resist. I hope new hires will see through that and insist on pay parity.

  13. CM*

    #3 is so interesting. Reminds me of an article I recently read by somebody whose dad is a retired electrician and taught them all kinds of things about home maintenance and repair. I’ve never been in a position for people in my personal life to be professional mentors, but it sounds great when it works out!

  14. An Australian In London*

    Re. OP1:
    If anything there’s an argument that staff working 100% remotely should get a raise as they save their organisation a lot of money in doing so.

    In the countries I work in (Australia and UK) and my industry (IT worker, typically in finance & banking client) it is now usual to deliberately size workspaces assuming perhaps 60% occupancy. It would be bedlam if everyone came to work in the office on the same day.

    I guarantee you banks are not in the business of being nice to workers or leading the way in offering benefits. They did this because it sames them millions each year.

    Requiring staff who are saving money to take a pay cut is… so weirdly backwards that I would lose all faith in the ability of TPTB to generate or execute any strategies at all.

    1. Don't Forget To Mute The Zoom*

      So people that are forced to report to the office should be paid less even though they have to pay for their commute? In what world is that fair or ethical? These comments are such an echo chamber sometimes, full of people who are convinced that they are the ones that are being put upon by (checks notes) staying home and saving a ton of money on their commute. Good god.

      1. An Australian In London*

        There are costs to the organisation in allowing workers to work in the office. A worker who chooses to not do that has saved the company money. In my irritation at the prospect of being forced to take a pay cut to remain more than two days a week at home I burst out with my comment.

        I think any worker *forced* to work in any particular mode should be compensated for that loss of choice. Both forced to work in the office, or forced to work remote. I think where feasible workers should be allowed to work anything from 0% to 100% WFH.

        Forced either way is the first part of this organisation’s error. The next is making threats to salary to induce desired behaviours. If they’re going to pay bonuses then perhaps the less fuming version of my comment is that there’s an argument to say that if bonuses are being used to motivate desired behaviours then saving a bundle of occupancy costs is surely also a desired behaviour?

        Also FWIW I think a commute should be paid for by the workplace. I’m currently on a contract which goes to some trouble to spell out that I’m not paid for my time for being forced to go to the client’s office two days a week. I think if there was a cultural shift that all time lost from other pursuits because of work were on the work clock we might see many things change for the better. (For example if I’m on call I’m paid even if I don’t get called in recognition that I can’t go see a movie or go out to dinner; commutes seem like exactly the same opportunity cost to me.)

        1. fine tipped pen afficionado*

          It’s a fraught issue because it’s a reality that remote work is a luxury issue. Folks with jobs that can’t be remote–custodians, maintenance workers, retail workers, food service, nurses, and manual laborers of all stripes–are bearing an even greater burden of commute costs and cost of living increases that they can’t escape by moving to the burbs or to another state entirely. And all they get is crap about how people don’t want to work anymore.

          I got a lucky break in the first year of the pandemic and got promoted to a position with the luxury of being remote from a customer service job that required me to interact with a public when it was very scary to do so. Remote work is definitely a luxury and it feels a lot like a slap in the face to see people who are already enjoying that luxury insist that they need more when the people at the bottom who still have to come in every day to clean their offices are being priced out of existence with no sign of relief.

          Clocking in when you start traveling toward work would be a great start. Paying bonuses structured like hazard pay for not having choice of workplace would also be good. But I think the fundamental issue is low pay and lack of dignity or respect for non-office workers and I am not sure what the solution to that is, but I tend to agree with Forget the Zoom that it would be nice to hear it remembered more often.

          1. An Australian In London*

            Thank you for your thoughtful response. Yes, you’re both right: it’s a justice and equity issue, and the fact that most “not able to work remotely” jobs are also traditionally low status and low paid means existing privilege problems are made worse.

            I regret my intemperate post.

    2. Observer*

      If anything there’s an argument that staff working 100% remotely should get a raise as they save their organisation a lot of money in doing so.

      That’s actually not necessarily the case. I’m one of the people who makes is possible for our staff to work remotely. And let me tell you something – If you are doing it right, it costs money. Lots of money, in many cases.

      And if you are doing hybrid work, that’s an added layer.

      1. An Australian In London*

        That’s really interesting to hear, thank you.

        My thinking is heavily steered by my own direct experience of working in IT for the largest banks in the world. They already had all the infrastructure for remote work and while I’m aware of one client having to increase some capacity to handle 99.5% remote at the start of the pandemic, they also took the opportunity to significantly reduce footprint (seven floors of a building down to three when headcount has not changed much).

        When I think beyond just me me me I recall stories from people whose workplaces were not previously setup for large amounts of remote work, or even any at all (hello schools and universities). Based on how many problems these places have had it would make sense that there were likely costs as well.

        Your point re. hybrid is also interesting. Should a workplace fully fund more than one set of furniture and equipment per worker? It’s a timely point as my more recent client had me complete a home workplace health and safety assessment and did not like hearing that I didn’t have an external keyboard or monitor for my (personal) laptop. I asked if they’d pay for equipment. Yes – for permanent employers, no for contractors.

        Thank you for gently nudging me to think of more than myself.

  15. fine tipped pen afficionado*

    It continues to baffle me why employers want people in the office at all. Would it not be cheaper to downsize offices and be a lot easier to manage staff when you aren’t litigating lunch stealing and flatulence and all the shit you deal with when sharing physical space with other humans???

    I once had coworkers running through the hallways screaming at each other, calling each other names, and slamming doors because one had accused the other of stealing their cherry cola from the fridge. I will never forget it.

    That would never happen if they were fully remote.

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