In-Person, Hybrid or Remote Workers: Who Makes the Most Money?

Woman teleconferencing with sister on laptop due to COVID-19 lockdown.
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Does where you work — and how often — affect how much money you make? There are obviously a number of variables that go into a salary, but looking simply at the salary differences between in-person, hybrid and remote workers, there is one type of employee that comes out on top.

Here’s a look at which type of employee makes the most money, plus, some of the possible reasons for the differences in pay.

Hybrid Workers Have the Highest Salaries

A December 2022 analysis by WFH Research found that hybrid workers get paid more, on average, than workers who go into the office every day and those who never go into an office.

The analysis found that the average salary of employees who go into their workplace every day is $55,000, and the average salary of those who work remotely full time is $74,000. Meanwhile, the average salary for hybrid employees ranges from $80,000 to $88,000.

Possible Reasons for Pay Discrepancies

Because these work environments are so new, it’s hard to determine the exact reasons hybrid workers are being paid more. Here, we examine some of the factors that could lead to pay differences.

Hybrid Workers Have Higher Job Satisfaction

Timothy D. Golden, a professor at the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who specializes in remote and telework, believes that job satisfaction could be at the root of the differences.

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“Research I conducted a number of years ago found that job satisfaction was highest when employees worked in a hybrid work mode rather than fully either in the office or remotely,” he said. “In those studies, employees who worked from home several days per week and spent several days in the office had the highest job satisfaction.

“This could potentially translate to higher pay,” he continued. “We know, generally, that employees who are highly satisfied in their jobs also have high levels of productivity, and this is likely to be rewarded with higher pay by the company.”

Job Type Plays a Large Role

As the WFH Research analysis notes, the type of jobs that require an employee to be physically in a workplace full time tend to be lower paying. “Many of those who never work from home provide services in person (e.g., in retail), or interact with special equipment (e.g., in a car repair shop),” the analysis states. “Such jobs often require less education and pay workers modestly.”

Meanwhile, those who work from home all or part of the time typically hold knowledge jobs that require advanced degrees and have higher salaries.

As for why hybrid roles tend to pay more, this has a lot to do with the types of jobs that lend themselves to a hybrid arrangement.

“Professional and managerial staff, who are some of the highest paid workers, are especially likely to be in hybrid roles because interacting with colleagues is valuable for them and their employers,” the analysis states. “Fully remote workers, by contrast, often perform specialized functions, like IT support or payroll, that require comparatively little interaction, and are less highly paid than managers, consultants and lawyers.”

There May Still Be a Stigma Against WFH Employees

For companies that have moved to a hybrid model, there may be some belief systems at play that could hurt full-time remote employees from getting the same pay as those who go into the office part time.

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“As companies begin to call employees back to the workplace, we’ll likely begin to see a larger divide between in-person and remote workers and how they view each other,” said Andrew McCaskill, a career expert with LinkedIn. “Remote workers are worried about how their commitment and productivity are being viewed by colleagues and supervisors. How companies are handling this division can make all the difference in how employees feel and in addressing this proximity bias.”

Proximity bias could mean that those who are physically in the office are more top of mind when it comes to raises and promotions.

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