Heads or Tails: The Two Sides of the Remote Work Financial Cost Coin


By Thomas Galvanek, CEO | Michael Mueller, Director of Recruiting | Adam Mueller, Recruiter March 2024

Over the past 4 years, a marked dichotomy in compensation expectation has emerged between on-site and remote/hybrid roles. Our Recruiting and Consulting Firm, The Chatham Group, has been at the forefront of this realignment. We have gathered detailed analytics that reflect ongoing and emergent trends in candidate preference for attendance modality, compensation expectation, and geographic mobility. Our data, which has been amassed since the onset of the global shift towards remote and hybrid roles in 2020 underscores a persistent tilt in that direction; simply put, more candidates than ever prefer remote and hybrid modalities while those open to fully on-site work are commanding premium compensation packages.

In a competitive job market, businesses that insist on in-person attendance are discovering a significant financial implication; candidates interested on-site work command higher salaries. Employers who prioritize in-person collaboration on their projects and duties are now finding themselves conceding not only to higher salary demands, but also to comprehensive relocation packages in order to secure essential talent.

On the other hand, we have noticed a discernable willingness among job-seeking professionals to trade potential compensation for the flexibility that remote and hybrid roles offer. In our experience, this trend has been particularly pronounced at the mid-senior level in roles such as Principal or Lead individual contributors, Managers, and even Directors as these roles often have administrative functions where tasks and collaboration can be effectively executed online or through telecommunication.

When we analyze the salary expectations of candidates across our various business sectors such as Specialty Chemicals, Industrial Gasses, Advanced Building Materials, Product Stewardship, etc.., we observe a consistent pattern:

full time on-site workers command salaries at a 30% premium when compared with remote job-seekers and at a roughly 15% premium when compared with hybrid arrangement job-seekers.

Not only do fully on-site workers carry a relative premium compared with remote and hybrid modalities, they also carry an absolute premium often times 12-20% above the employers initial compensation range for a given role.

We want to be clear that this cost differential has never been associated with a compromise in candidate quality; the candidates we evaluated demonstrate equivalent qualifications and capabilities independent of their preference for remote, hybrid, or on-site work. The variance we have established in compensation expectations entirely reflects an economic adjustment to monetary value of workplace flexibility.

In conclusion, mid-senior and high-associate level candidates in the current recruitment landscape have issued a clear valuation on workplace modality. Full time on-site roles are increasingly seen as premium service which demands premium compensation, whereas remote and hybrid roles have emerged as cost-effect alternatives that appeal to a much broader segment of the workforce.

As industry leaders in science and technology recruitment The Chatham Group has become an adept thought-leader in navigating these dynamics, ensuring that our clients secure premium talent that aligns with their strategic and financial objectives.