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Benefits and salary remote workers want

Table of Contents
I.How much are remote workers paid?
1. 1.Average remote salaries
1. 2.Location-specific remote salary structure
1. 3.A more transparent structure
II.What are the ideal emplyee benefits for remote workers?
III.Global hiring challenges
3. 1.The questions businesses face
The number of remote workers is expected to double over the next five years. There are more companies adopting fully remote or hybrid work models, while location-based companies became even more accepting of out-of-country freelancers.
In this two-part series, we will first research current remote work salaries and employee benefits offered before creating a comprehensive guide on compensation for remote teams (coming up in Q2!)

How much are remote workers paid?

75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year, putting them in the upper 80th percentile of all employees, home or office-based. Coupling this fact with the data below showing a steady rise in wages, remote remuneration appears to be in a solid position:
  • Remote work salaries and employee benefits rose faster in the third quarter of this year than at any other point on record.
  • Private-sector hourly pay rose 4.8% in Nov. 2021 compared to the previous year.
  • Companies are setting aside an average of 3.9% of next year’s total payroll for wage increases.
As Jamie Wilde mentioned in her "Companies are (sorta) increasing wages" article on Morning Brew: “Due to the ongoing labor shortage, employers are paying up to attract and retain the best and brightest.”
A specific example of remote wages scaling upwards can be seen within the Content Marketing field. This report by Superpath shows a 10.4% growth in annual income, with $93,725 as an average.
In the US, general wages are set to increase significantly. These rises are likely to be observed globally as the market deals with this prolific rate of inflation.
Likewise, companies in the US and Canada seem to be paying their teams more than other countries. Here's a breakdown that Pieter Levels, founder of RemoteOK, created based on the job ads they received:

Average remote salaries

We looked at different recruiter's salary guides before cross-checking the results against RemoteOK’s job boards. Here’s a few examples:
$85,000/year - Accounting Manager $75,000/year - Financial Analyst $125,000/year - Software Engineer $80,000/year - UX designer $64,500/year - Executive Assistant $52,500/year - Customer Service Specialist $75,000/year - Human Resources

Location-specific remote salary structure

We reached out on Twitter to find out what peoples thoughts were relating to pay and geographical status:
The results leaned largely towards equal salaries- regardless of the cost of living - but how does this desire affect the reality of what’s currently on offer?
The results vary, surprisingly in the tech sector, geographically adjusted salaries have increased exponentially. Deloitte’s research from 2021 found that 70% of companies use geographic differentials to adjust salaries based on the individual’s location. This number rose to 85% for tech companies.
This trend in geographically differential pay sits firmly against what workers are looking for and threatens to become a significant blocker facing the remote ready world.
“It’s never been a better time to focus on pay equity as an organisation.” Chad Atwell - Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting
Fair compensation policies are far from being a clear-cut process, but a shift towards geographical discrimination when it comes to salaries could lead to companies being accused of cheap labour practices that take advantage of fragile economies.

A more transparent structure

With a rise in inflation and wages, a growing competition and a worrying trend in geographically discriminatory salary structures, the job market has become a difficult terrain to navigate. Luckily, companies like RemoteOK have been leading the charge in transparency when it comes to remote work salaries. They recently became the first job board to require salary figures in order to post on their platform. More and more companies are starting to share this information online, like the CEO of Buffer announcing they established a long-term goal that their salaries will not be based on location. Their salary structure has been fully transparent since 2013, and you can see how much everyone in the company makes on their Transparent salaries page.
Platforms like RemoteOK and Workew advertise a variety of positions, with salaries scaling from $20,000 to $300,000. The positions advertised generally place emphasis on becoming part of the companies team and offering employee benefits for remote workers such as healthcare and team retreats. These job boards are a far cry from platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, which tend to prioritize lower rates of pay and a quick turnaround from 'throwaway' freelancers who tend to be fairly disconnected from the client's company mission. So what are remote workers looking for?

What are the ideal emplyee benefits for remote workers?

Our recent survey on the Benefits for Remote Workers confirmed what the remote community has been saying for the last decade - working remotely makes them happier, more productive and allows for a better lifestyle.
Flexibility, investment into personal development, and the ability to work remotely seem to be the drivers of overall happiness when it comes to remote work. The byproduct of that happiness is an increase in overall productivity from employees.
So how can we build on this? If we know these benefits increase happiness and drive productivity, what else can companies offer remote employees, and what do the employees want?
It seems that the majority of respondents did not receive health insurance through their company despite the obvious need for it, along with:
  • Paid maternity leave (18,8% currently have maternity coverage, while 50% responded they would want their company to provide it)
  • Dental coverage (which only 11% of respondents currently have through their company, while 67,3% would want to have covered)
  • Paid sick days (covered for 33,8% of respondents, while 51,8 are interested in having it as a benefit)
  • Sabbaticals (wanted by an overwhelming 74% of respondents, but offered to only 11%).
Pension schemes and retirement saving plans were high up on the list of desired benefits from employees, with nearly half of the companies already providing them (or employees having a system set up for it individually).
Company-wide insurance plans and facilitating pension plans might be beyond the financial reach of some start-ups, so let's have a look at some more cost-effective benefits that remote workers want:
There’s a visible need for a co-working space stipend and a surprising lack of companies offering it as a perk. Along with membership in coworking spaces like Selina and Outsite, businesses can also offer:
  • Gym memberships (wanted by 71,9% of respondents, while only 6,2% already have this through their company)
  • Company-wide retreats (wanted by 55,6% of respondents, but only 20% of them get this perk). Here's how we organize our virtual gatherings!
  • Stock options (only 11,2% of respondents reported they were offered this, while 62,2% would be interested in the option)
  • Guaranteed vacation time (we’re happy to see that 52% of our respondents can count on this benefit, and 37,5% reported they would want this offered by their company)
  • Flexible working hours (working remotely implies a high degree of flexibility that 83% of our respondents already enjoy, while 14% wish for a more flexible schedule.)

Global hiring challenges

One of the key issues companies have faced when it comes to hiring from a global talent pool is remaining compliant with employment laws. Issuing effective contracts can be tricky, especially when dealing with employees outside of the company's registered country. Businesses like Deel have been able to successfully combat this by providing a platform that navigates the legal boundaries for companies whilst making sure tax is taken care of.
We're also creating a comprehensive guide on drafting a more flexible, location-independent policy and how to handle the legal aspects of that. Coming soon!

The questions businesses face

Innovative businesses have rallied to overcome the obstacles that have prevented companies from hiring globally and a truly global network has opened up to employers. Businesses now have to decide how they will lean into this borderless world:
  • When looking for remote employees, should businesses offer the average salary of the country they’re registered in?
  • If a company decides to pay the average salary of an employee's home base which might be a low-income country, are we really offering them access to a borderless life?
  • How do we determine a global salary average all remote companies can follow?
“Let global market data and experienced compensation experts guide your biggest investment – your people.”
Sit tight while we look for answers! And, for anyone that’s starting a company, check out our article on Why build remotely in the meantime.

About the author

Luke Poulson

Researcher & Writer
Luke has been traveling around the globe for the last decade and is currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's been working remotely on everything from directing music festivals, to online ESL coaching, to writing and contributing as a researcher for Borderless. He is a passionate advocate for the modern nomadic way of life and enjoys getting others started on their journey towards remote living.