I worked hard in my highly-paid corporate job, but here’s why I decided to take a large pay cut even though the cost of living is getting more expensive

A young mum has revealed why she chose to take a sizable pay cut, as research reveals a surprising number of Aussies are choosing flexibility over salary.

Jade Reece from Brisbane worked in a well-paying corporate marketing job that required her to be in the office five days a week, but she has now decided to take another role that allows her to work entirely from home.

‘It is a much lower salary, which at first I thought I would regret, but honestly, it has been the best thing for me,’ Ms Reece told Daily Mail Australia.

There has been a lingering shift in the way staff want to do their jobs since lockdowns during the Covid pandemic proved work in many office-based industries could be done remotely – arguably without any loss in productivity.

But many companies worldwide are now demanding staff return to the office, for at least part of the week, based on the argument it improves connectivity.

The Commonwealth Bank, for example, told all staff last year they must be in the office for 50 per cent of their working hours, leading to a challenge from the Financial Services Union, which was eventually abandoned.

Other companies such as ANZ, Suncorp and electricity provider Origin have linked showing up more in the office to pay rises and bonuses.

But new research from software firm Capterra reveals that money is no longer the top priority for many Australians in their careers, with more than a third of employees saying they would take a pay cut to continue working remotely.

New mum Jade Reece from Brisbane is one of a growing number of Aussies choosing less pay in order to work in a hybrid arrangement or entirely from home

Software firm Capterra's 2024 Cost of Work survey revealed a third of Aussies now prioritise flexibility over pay

Software firm Capterra’s 2024 Cost of Work survey revealed a third of Aussies now prioritise flexibility over pay

The survey polled 2,716 workers across 11 countries, with 250 from Australia, and found Aussies were on par with the global average of 36 per cent who said they would choose less pay if they could work in a remote or hybrid arrangement.

Of the Australians surveyed , 46 per cent worked fully on-site, 41 per cent had a hybrid arrangement involving office-based and remote working, and 10 per cent worked entirely remotely.

The Capterra 2024 Cost of Work survey found work-life balance was the primary motivation for those hesitant to return to the office.

The software research firm also noted being a ‘full-time on-site employee entails significant costs’.

It said daily commutes, office attire, and lunches were noted as financial drawbacks by those surveyed.

Ms Reece said time was one of the major factors in her decision.

‘Without the commute, I open up almost three hours to my day, I can get so much more done,’ she said.

‘I would have to leave my son at childcare at the earliest drop off and only just make it back in time to pick him up.

‘If either of us got sick I would lose work unless I used sick leave. I would easily go through a tank of fuel a week and had to pay for parking each day.

‘It wasn’t an easy decision to take a pay cut, especially with the cost of living rising and it being less consistent financially, but for me the flexibility of working around other things going on is a huge benefit.’

Ms Reece said working remotely 'opens up' her day and allows her to do her own hours and continue working through most issues that would have prevented her turning up to the office

Ms Reece said working remotely ‘opens up’ her day and allows her to do her own hours and continue working through most issues that would have prevented her turning up to the office

The marketing coordinator said she took a significant pay cut which she worried she might regret but loves her new way of working

The marketing coordinator said she took a significant pay cut which she worried she might regret but loves her new way of working  

Similar to Ms Reece, HR executive Angela Zegir has also opted ‘post-Covid’ to forego more lucrative roles that required her to be in the office.

‘I have lost about 40-50 per cent of my salary by working remotely and casually. It is a serious trade off,’ she said.

‘Essentially I have sacrificed money for flexibility and control over my hours and location of work. 

HR executive Angela Zegir said she took a 40 to 50 per cent pay cut to work remotely

HR executive Angela Zegir said she took a 40 to 50 per cent pay cut to work remotely

‘It also allows me to care better for my daughter who has a disability … I’m also able to be home during school holidays.’

Both Ms Reece and Ms Zegir said the main thing they missed about being in the office was the ‘social side’ and spontaneous chats with colleagues. 

In terms of broaching the subject of their working location with their bosses, Ms Zegir said she ‘actively sought’ an employer who offered what she was looking, while Ms Reece ‘raised her concerns’. 

‘I’m lucky I work with great people, my new boss is also a mum with young kids and understands the troubles with that around childcare, so she was happy to be flexible around my working arrangements,’ Ms Reece said.

‘As long as I get my work done, she is happy.’

Ms Reece said she 'raised her concerns' with her bosses who were happy to accommodate provided she completed her work

Ms Reece said she ‘raised her concerns’ with her bosses who were happy to accommodate provided she completed her work 

Capterra said while a third of workers placed flexibility above money, two-thirds would still opt to be entirely office-based.

The software company said leveraging the different preferences of staff could actually benefit businesses. 

‘Despite the majority unwilling to take a pay cut to stay working remotely, it may be a worthwhile trade-off for those living in areas far from their workplace,’ Laura Burgess, Analyst at Capterra, said. 

She points out the benefits to employee morale, retention, and the company’s reputation, are factors that should ‘carefully be considered’. 

‘Companies can also offer incentives such as wellness programs, extra annual leave, on-site training or benefits like parking or lunch allowances that make the office space more appealing,’ she said.

What Aussie workers really think about being forced back into the office – as bosses begin enforcing stricter work from home rules 

Australia’s central business districts are bustling once more, thanks to a resurgence of employees heading back to the office as companies enforce stricter policies on working from home.

Just two years ago, Sydney’s CBD was eerily quiet after Covid-19 lockdowns. This downturn devastated the small businesses that remained in the area.

Today, however, the tide has turned. Workers are returning in large numbers, transforming the CBD into a bustling hive of activity once more.

So what do workers really think about bosses mandating a return to office work? Daily Mail Australia interviewed people in Sydney to find out.

Jake, who works in finance, said that his employer increased the number of days workers are expected to be in the office to five days a week.

Workers in Sydney's CBD (pictured) have opened up about working from home

Workers in Sydney’s CBD (pictured) have opened up about working from home

Finance worker, Jake (pictured), said he prefers to go into the office five times a week to meet face-to-face with clients and work collaboratively with co-workers

Finance worker, Jake (pictured), said he prefers to go into the office five times a week to meet face-to-face with clients and work collaboratively with co-workers

‘There are elements of flexibility which they’ve maintained. If you need to work from home for whatever reason, you can,’ he said.

‘Once upon a time everyone was in the office, so for me it’s back to normal and I’m okay with that.

‘There are a lot of people who started working during Covid and it’s new to them and they feel like it is quite tough.’

‘A lot of my work is client base, so actually seeing clients makes a big difference, I think that part of business is really important to be back face-to-face.’

Nuno, who’s an architect, said he’s glad to be back at the office with his team.

‘For our business, we discuss ideas in the office,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘People need to work together to create good spaces, especially because we also have staff members that are not very experienced, so we need to be there to mentor them.’

But not everyone wants to be back in the office.

One worker said: ‘I was forced back into the office. I will find another job. In the meantime, I will work 7.6 hours per day. Not a second more, or less.’

Another added: ‘My office went from full time WFH for two years to full time back in the office, effective immediately, as per the email. I went back for a few weeks and hated it and then left.’

While some companies are requiring their employees to return to the office five days a week, many others are offering flexible work arrangements.

Architect, Nuno (left), said his industry needed concerted efforts to make 'great spaces', adding that working in the office meant he could mentor younger architects

Architect, Nuno (left), said his industry needed concerted efforts to make ‘great spaces’, adding that working in the office meant he could mentor younger architects

Consultant, Arun (pictured), only goes into the office to attend serious meetings

Consultant, Arun (pictured), only goes into the office to attend serious meetings 

Consultant Arun revealed that he enjoyed the flexibility of working from home because it allowed him to look after his two-year-old child.

‘It’s easier to pick him up, send him to day care, just be there if there’s anything that he needs attention,’ he said.

‘The company that I work for is very flexible in terms of work arrangements, so there is no need to come into the office if it’s not required.’

Arun only goes into the office about once a week when he needs to attend urgent meetings, but often has weeks-long stretches where he works from home.

Two workers at one of the Big Four banks, who wished to remain anonymous, praised their management for approving a flexible work environment.

‘The way they’ve dealt with that, for us anyway, has been really positive,’ one said.

‘They’re still encouraging us to come in, they see the value in the face-to-face relationships, but they also see the value in being able to have that flexibility as well.’

The other added that ‘productivity has definitely gone up, you can actually manage what we’re doing now, and when you do have a face-to-face meeting is more meaningful and valuable’.

Another bank worker said that at the end of the day, all that matters is productivity levels.

‘If you’re delivering from home then of course you should work from home, as long as you’re not taking the p***,’ he said.

Small businesses around the city such as cafes and dry cleaners are also starting thrive as workers return (pictured stock image of peak commuter time in Sydney)

Small businesses around the city such as cafes and dry cleaners are also starting thrive as workers return (pictured stock image of peak commuter time in Sydney)

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