Firms, mobile workers say no to pay cuts

Companies and employees reject notion of lower salaries for mobile workers, noting that telecommuting will yield the same, if not greater, productivity.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Monetary savings are not the primary incentive behind telecommuting for employers and employees, but both camps note that the flexibility that comes with telework should not be offered at the expense of salaries.

Mobile workers ZDNet Asia spoke to said they expected to draw the same salary as they would, working in an office.

Victor Thu, a senior product marketing manager for Citrix Systems Asia-Pacific, pointed out in an e-mail that one advantage of telecommuting is "better productivity", since one can still be productive and address any necessary tasks or critical issues immediately regardless of where he or she is. According to him, this is particularly so as his role involves "frequent" business travel and overseas teleconferencing.

"Improved workforce productivity ultimately translates into costs benefits for an organization," he said. "Therefore smart companies will choose not to penalize employees who work remotely with a pay cut seeing that they stand to gain with increased productivity."

Chan Yiu Lin, who runs her own public relations (PR) agency, noted that as long as mobile workers can carry out their duties and meet stipulated deadlines, they "should be paid fully without any deductions".

Marvin Ng, who runs a business development consultancy, also concurred. The mobile workforce, he argued, is "still expected to deliver the same amount of value to [their] employer while working from home".

Scott Morris, managing director at NetApp Asean, noted that the company "readily promotes workforce mobility" as it believes the flexibility and ability to work from anywhere make a "huge difference to individual and organizational productivity". To that end, the organization is "focused on deliverables and [believes in] rewarding results, regardless of time spent in the office".

Their views contrast with survey findings revealed earlier this month by career Web site Dice Holdings, which indicate that 35 percent of the 937 U.S. IT professionals was agreeable to a pay cut of 10 percent or less, if they were allowed by their employer to work from home.

Increasingly powerful HR tool in Asia
Gavin Henshaw, head of Kelly IT Resources division at recruitment agency Kelly Services, pointed out that while telecommuting may be money-saving alternative in the United States, it is "definitely more for employee morale and retention" in the Asian context.

He explained that more companies today allow their staff to work outside of the office not just because of technology advancements such as cloud computing and mobile devices, but also because firms now recognize that "money is not the only motivational factor" to retain and attract employees.

Similarly, Stuart Driver, director of IT services at Citrix Systems Asia-Pacific, said the option of "workshifting is a key differentiator" to attract talent. Citrix, according to him, subscribes to the notion of workshifting, or the ability to "shift work to a more optimum place wherever makes the most sense to them".

This delivers "powerful business benefits" such as increased employee productivity and satisfaction, and also talent retention, he explained in an e-mail. On top of that, it also helps retain employees who would otherwise resign for reasons such as family relocation, thus saving the organizations both the investment put in the employees and the costs of new recruitment, said Driver.

Telecommuting can even allow a company to hire in locations where it does not have a physical office or to build one, he added.

NetApp's Morris added that telecommuting benefits and a flexible work environment are "the norm for many progressive companies", which enable them to remain competitive in attracting and retaining talent.

Telecommuting, he noted, promotes a greater sense of control over one's work life, and employees with a "healthy work-life balance are happier in their jobs" are also better able to contribute their best to the company and its bottom line.

Conversely, insisting staff to work only from the office and rigid working hours would "significantly reduce" productivity and "adversely affect employees' enthusiasm to contribute", he said.

Mobile workers pinpointed greater convenience and control over work-life balance, as the key factors for choosing to work remotely.

Chan highlighted that working from home means there are no transportation hassles to deal with, and work schedules can be optimized around her preferred working hours.

Ng said his main motivation was to achieve a better work-life balance in order to have more time for family and hobbies.

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