COVID-19 and Remote Working: How Compensation, Life, & Diversity Are Affected?


Many people say remote work will become the new normal in a post-Covid world. This means many changes for companies and employees. For companies, it can mean fewer expenses in some areas but more in others. For employees, it means they will be able to work from wherever they want. Specifically, tor the tech and knowledge workers, how will this affect their salaries? 

Challenges of Remote Work

Since the pandemic started back in March, many companies, including most key players in tech, sent their employees to work from home. Working remotely, or from home, was a new experience for many.  However, one of the rewards of knowledge work (which includes tech and any occupation where knowledge is critical capital ranging from lawyers and scientists, to accountants and consultants), is that you can work from anywhere with a computer. It has its own sets of benefits for employers, like not having to maintain the same office space at its full operational capacity. 

But everything can’t be perfect. Remote work has its challenges, especially at companies where they didn’t have any remote policies or structures. Here are some of the hurdles companies had to overcome.

Structural Updates

Having employees work from home is not the same as having them centralized in a single space. It means having to update all their systems to make sure operations are secure. Companies had to invest in new software to secure their networks and employees.

They also needed to provide their employees with the right tools for communicating and collaborating remotely. And tools aren’t the only part of doing a successful migration. They had to train their employees so they could efficiently do their jobs. Overall, most companies that wanted to allow remote working permanently had to update their virtual infrastructure.

Employee Work-Life Blend

Another hurdle that companies and employees had to face is maintaining the right work-life blend (often in the past called work-life balance – but we know we’re not looking for balance as much as how we blend our lives in a way that nourishes us). Burnout across industries, whether healthcare, tech, or business, remains high. New remote workers are especially at risk.

Easy access to our computers, and a drive to solve a problem in an evening email right now instead of tomorrow makes over-work a slippery slope. Before we know it, we’re working nights for the whole week without realizing it. What can help? Leaders making an effort to help employees avoid overworking. This can start with encouraging and modeling healthy behaviors like taking time off and avoiding overwork. Sooner rather than later, employees who work extreme hours will feel burnout, and performance will drop. 

It can also happen that employees start feeling lonely due to the lack of interactions with others, especially if they live alone. As we focus more on diversity, equity, and inclusion, how will isolation affect bonds across teams? Companies can implement strategies to encourage employees to interact with each other inside and outside of work. Technology gives us lots of opportunities: online exercise classes can increase bonding and get people away from their desks during the workday, and virtual happy hours and lunches can replace stop-by-your-office chats. 

Maintaining Productive Collaboration

Finally, for employees who have never worked remotely before, maintaining positive collaboration can be a challenge. Collaborating in the office,where meetings and the location facilitates communication, is distinctly different from working from home or remotely. 

When working remotely, employees have to make a conscious effort to communicate with their team and leaders. Involve employees in evaluating tools and platforms.  This can help you avoid purchasing a tool and it going unused – or even worse – wasting time and hurting productivity. 

Localized Compensation?

In regard to salaries, the real threat is localized compensation. To use tech as an example, companies have already begun talking about adjusting their employee’s salaries according to their location. This is not a new concept. GitLab is a completely remote company with workers located in over 65 countries. They offer localized compensation, market rate based on the location the employee resides, across their organization and they have a public salary calculator for candidates to check out before accepting a job.

Microsoft also announced that they would allow flexible remote working hours for all their employees. But the ones that choose to work from home permanently will face a salary adjustment depending on where they are located. Not all companies have chosen this route, but it could possibly become common if remote working increases. 

It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For example, if you live in the San Francisco Bay area and decide to start a software engineer career and relocate to a small town in Missouri, that salary almost doubled in value. Yes, you will receive a pay cut, but when adjusting for cost of living (there are multitude of calculators online) you are receiving significantly more than in San Francisco. 

In Summary

Salaries for industries most affected by the move to working remotely, including tech and knowledge workers, could change as our ways of working remotely settle and become more permanent. How will we collaborate, build diverse and inclusive teams when thousands of miles apart, and compensate our teams?  Where we will land as a workforce is unknown but by monitoring trends across industries we can build new workplaces that are stronger and better than before.

As shared here, technology is critical to not only our operations, but to sustaining our teams and culture, now more than ever.  Seeking to skill up your workforce quickly? Career Karma’s coding bootcamp list could be a cost-effective option for your tech teams.

About the Guest Author

Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YCW19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the “Breaking Into Startups” podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into the Tech industry.


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