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May 04, 2021

First Quarter Data From Pearl Meyer Show the Work From Home Model is Permanent for Many

Survey respondents anticipate one-third of their US workforce will permanently work from home; geographic pay differentials not widely expected

BOSTON—May 4, 2021—Executive compensation consultancy Pearl Meyer has published its Work From Home Policies and Practices survey and results indicate 33% of responding companies’ total US-based workforces will work remote post-pandemic. More than 80% noted their organization’s shift to remote work during the pandemic has been successful and nearly 40% reported an increase in productivity. Perhaps recognizing an opportunity for cost savings, 36% of surveyed organizations have made the decision to reduce the number and/or size of their offices and/or facilities.

Exempt status professionals and middle management are most likely to work from home at 32% and 28% respectively, while an almost equal level of executive (23%) and non-exempt/hourly workers (22%) are expected to remain remote.

“One of the more interesting HR questions behind the mass move to working remotely has been whether or not companies would change geographic-based salary structures,” said Bill Dixon, managing director at Pearl Meyer and lead for the survey. “We know there’s been some level of worker migration from high cost-of-living areas to lower-cost markets, yet it appears that the number of companies that are considering changes to an individual’s salary as a result is fairly small.”

One third of survey respondents currently apply “geographic differentials” to their salary structure and of those, 20% are considering modifications to their current approach. When asked outright about reducing an individual’s cash compensation if they move to a lower-cost geographic area and work from home, just 4.3% said they would do so, while 56.5% said they would not, and the balance were uncertain or would decide on a case-by-case basis. “At this juncture, when companies are allowing—or encouraging—remote work and it is going well, it appears there is some hesitancy to disrupt the talent pool,” said Dixon. 

Of the reporting companies, 62% indicated the pandemic had a neutral to positive impact on revenues. At the other end of the spectrum, 9% reported revenues were “extremely” negatively impacted by more than -15% since March of 2020 and 29% indicated their revenues had been “marginally” negatively impacted.

About the Survey

The online survey was conducted in February and March of 2021, with participation from 349 companies, including 128 publicly traded, 159 private for-profit, and 62 not-for-profit/governmental organizations. Annual revenue (or asset size in the case of financial institutions) ranged from less than $300 million to over $10 billion.

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About Pearl Meyer

Pearl Meyer is the leading advisor to boards and senior management helping organizations build, develop, and reward great leadership teams that drive long-term success. Our strategy-driven compensation and leadership consulting services act as powerful catalysts for value creation and competitive advantage by addressing the critical links between people and outcomes. Our clients stand at the forefront of their industries and range from emerging high-growth, not-for-profit, and private organizations to the Fortune 500.

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