Back in my promotional marketing days, when a new program launched, it was always smooth sailing for about a year. You could get away with almost anything because there were really no rules in place. The company had an idea and would run with it, rolling it out before getting too technical. As the new adage goes, Done is Better than Perfect, right? But then some time would pass, and the crackdowns would begin. People from corporate would start checking up on the teams out in the field, making sure they were dressed appropriately, conducting themselves professionally and overall representing the brand accurately.
Fast forward to the present. I have been working remotely for almost two years now, having spent one of those years as an employee at a fully remote company, where I learned quite a few things. One of which was, that as the proprietor of a no office establishment, you really had no rules as to where to hire your employees from. As long as they were on your payroll and taxes were being paid, and some sort of benefit was in place (but that’s a story for another post entirely), you could get away with many things.
Said company had budgeted a specific salary for the different roles being hired for, based on a national average. But, I think we can all agree that someone in California or New York’s opinion of what an adequate national average was, would be quite different from someone who lived in Kansas or Alabama.
So, when the company eluded to the fact that they would prefer to hire people in states that had a much lower standard of living to accommodate this budget or heck better yet, hire people overseas or from our ever so friendly (or not so friendly, still up for debate ?) neighbors in Canada, I would say a new gray area was born.
Think of it this way: if it came down to two possible candidates who both had similar qualifications, but the one who lived in a “cheaper” location was hired for that reason, would this be considered location discrimination? After all, if these same two employees came into a physical office in say San Francisco, it would be quite unethical to choose one because they lived in Palo Alto over the one who lived in Oakland, right?
Cue the EOE. What do YOU think?
What really are the rules for companies that hire remote workers? And who’s really checking up on them at the present time?
While most of the world sees remote workers as unicorns, the fact is that working remotely is most certainly a real job for a real company (I mean, that’s the dream anyway) that needs to be regulated like the brick and mortars.