Facebook has announced that everyone can start to work from home forever. Which is pretty cool, until the other shoe drops which is that you won’t get paid Silicon Valley salaries if you’re not in Silicon Valley.
This being entirely logical and yet it does come with certain dangers:
With Facebook’s adoption of permanent remote work on Thursday, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has untethered one of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies from the place that incubated it.
But he also dashed a Silicon Valley dream: that tech workers would be able to take their generous salaries with them as they flee the Bay Area’s crushing housing costs, dirty sidewalks and crowded roadways.
Specifically, he’s said:
The company, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest employers, is giving U.S. staffers who are approved to work remotely until Jan. 1, 2021 to update the company on where they plan to base themselves, at which point their salaries will be adjusted to reflect the local cost of living.
At which point, well, what’s the cost of living? We can go and look up some average cost of living in a city or state, that’s information readily available. But none of such comparisons actually, really, are comparable.
For example, what’s the cost of job switching? If you’re in the Bay Area there are many, actually pretty much all of the possible ones worldwide, alternative employers for some complete and total codehead. This is, for a complete and total codehead, part of the cost of living in that area – it’s a benefit perhaps, not a cost, but it’s still part of the deal. It’s easy to find a new employer that is.
But stick with the cost of living thing. One comparator tries to tell me that SF is twice the cost of Des Moines. OK. So, under this Zuckerberg adjustment you can gain half the SF salary by working in Des Moines. That’s not, I submit, actually going to work. Because that’s not really how humans do work.
I can imagine an SF weighting being acceptable to the people doing the work. Some uplift to take account of rents perhaps. But other than that, no, don’t see it. This might well be filed under nice try, no cigar.