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WFH Debacle: Should Jobs Offer Higher Pay for On-Site Work?

by Riley Cook

I recently came across a TikTok of a user discussing her salary requirements, stating, “If a job I am interviewing for requires me to come into the office, then I add $20,000 onto my request. So, for example, if it’s WFH, then I’m fine with $32,000, but if I have to commute, then it’s $52,000…”

Many users flooded her comments, thanking her for sharing this valuable information as they will now look to implement this tactic going forward. I must say, I was rather impressed. Give or take commuting to work 5 days a week at 30-45 minutes one way, or an additional hour or hour and a half to your 8-hour workday, is, in fact, daunting.

Not only that, some jobs require you to work hours like 8:30 am – 5:00 pm because your lunch break is not included in your day. If you want to take an hour lunch, then you can expect to be leaving the office at 5:30 pm. This is their way of ensuring that you work a full eight-hour day.

As of 2023, the typical commute costs workers $5,724.56 a year. Take into account inflation and the price hikes across all sectors—fast-food chains, groceries/supermarkets. It’s all costing way too much; one user commented that his salad from a deli nearby his office costs anywhere from $12-$15, paying that every day for 5 days is $75/week on the high end.

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Whereas, if he worked from home and did some grocery shopping with that money, he could possibly work out two to three meals a day versus just one. Let’s also factor in gas, tolls (for some), and the wear and tear on your vehicle. How can $615 a week on the lower end possibly justify this? How can subtracting $110 from your weekly pay along with taxes possibly be a livable wage? All in all, your take-home at $32,000 a year is roughly $353.50 a week (after lunch and taxes) or $1,414 a month… let’s be real.

Health Information Services company, WebMD recently came under fire when their 'Don't Mess With Us' video demanded that workers return to the office or else, was released. It was clear that the CEO and company executives were elsewhere, other than the office, shooting the video because of the obvious green screen, and in one shot, the green could be easily spotted. "We aren't asking or negotiating at this point. We're informing," the company CEO, Bob Brisco, tells employees.

The video has, of course, made its rounds online and has since been removed from the company’s Vimeo account. This should have been a meeting in-office where the CEO and board members are all present. How can you expect workers to want to be in an office that you, the CEO, don't want to be in? It's impossible and shows just how out-of-touch many of these CEOs and Board executives are... or could they just be playing a sinister game?

You see, their main objective may not be to bring employees back to the office, but rather to trim their payroll. Many companies have been conducting mass layoffs—Amazon, Google, Rent the Runway, Discord, and even Citigroup—this year. If enough employees stand their ground and refuse to return, then they may just quit. Which means the company can refuse unemployment benefits and will not have to pay out a severance.

During the pandemic and shortly after, many employers were hiring and offering high salaries and bonuses due to the government bailout. Many companies received money for their staff to cover payroll. Now that they're looking to leverage the economy, this means that employers are interested in lowering pay. In order to get employees to comply, they can get you to quit or simply fire you, pay you a small severance, and then send you on your way to find a job paying anywhere from 50% to 70% less.

But what does this mean for the economy and inflation? Surely, if no one is working or earning income, they can't spend money. If money is not being spent, then how will the economy stabilize? Banks rely on people having debt so they can earn interest. No interest means the banks will have to give out interest money.

Banks would then declare that interest rates are going to become negative, which will, in turn, get people to start spending their savings. All in all, everyone will have to at some point or another comply with the company's regulations and either go into the office to work and accept a lower wage or be forced into destitution. There is no in-between, and by destitution, I mean complete homelessness.

Banding together and deciding as a collective not to go into the office simply won’t work either because many people have families and responsibilities that they must take care of. A healthy percentage of the population will comply; even if 30% decide to stand their ground, 70% will not, and business will resume as usual. If you’re someone who is on the fence about returning to the office, consider taking on a side hustle in your spare time to supplement your income.

Uber, The LUEQ Delivery Service Partner program will be available by summer. You can earn 30% on sales when you manage one of their warehouses. This means overseeing drivers and ensuring that same-day deliveries are sent out on time. Other than that, you can also consider Doordash and a plethora of other options. But overall, consider implementing that strategy from the TikTok user; ask for higher pay when negotiating during an interview if you’re being asked to go into the office.


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