Is Flexibility More Important Than a Higher Salary?

This week, I happened upon a post on LinkedIn that a fellow recruiter made regarding a situation that had just happened to her.

The situation went something like this: she had a candidate that had gone through the interview process for a position she was conducting a search on. Her client extended an offer to the candidate. The position paid more money and had better benefits – more responsibility overall.

The candidate politely declined the offer, because the person’s current position allowed for the flexibility to work remotely as often as he wanted, which meant more to him than the elevated title, the compensation, and the benefits combined.

The recruiter was a bit shocked, so asked for some feedback from others in her network. Her question was “is working remote more important than earning a higher paycheck?”

The responses blew up! Within a day, there were well over 1,000 comments from numerous perspectives.

Which led me to really reflect on this. What is the value of having flexibility?

What IS the Value of Flexibility?

In the discussion I previously mentioned, flexibility was described as a “high value tangible benefit”. What is some of the “value” to having the ability to work remotely?


    • Time: commute time, which could equal 1-2 hours each way per day. This could mean the difference between attending a baseball game/recital/performance or being on the road stuck in traffic. It could also mean not having to use vacation time or sick days when you need to leave a few minutes early to attend an event. For others, it could mean having the ability to care for a sick parent that is not able to live alone.
    • Childcare Costs: Even if you are only saving a few dollars per week, the compounding cost over time truly adds up. Additionally, not having to take a vacation day because your child is home sick (but still paying for that day at the sitter) is a double whammy.
    • Fuel Costs: If you have a long commute to and from work every day, this could add up to thousands of dollars a year in fuel (and emissions, etc. if you want to look at from an environmental standpoint).
    • Wear and Tear on Your Vehicle: Some readers admitted to driving over 50,000 miles a year for their job! Working remotely could curb that wear and tear exponentially
    • Ability to Focus: If you enjoy working alone, having the ability to work independently and think clearly could allow for much greater productivity.
    • Flexibility to Plan Your Day: Unless you have scheduled meetings at certain times, having the ability to take breaks and schedule your work day around other commitments can be priceless!
    • Acknowledgement of Trust: Having the ability to work remotely reinforces the trust an employer has in you – your self-motivation abilities, your abilities to complete tasks/projects and achieve goals, and possibly your ability to manage and make others accountable from a remote location.
    • Cost Savings for the Company: Decreased office space and a smaller footprint for a company could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in overhead savings ever year, if not more.



But Are There Drawbacks?

Working remotely sounds like a dream job for anyone, doesn’t it?

Not so fast.

What could the potential drawbacks be for having a remote workforce, or working separately from your team?

There are a couple of things to take into consideration:

    • What is the scope of the position? Most professional-level positions are now designed around a computer, with digital programs and documentation for almost everything. If you work on a plant floor, however, this still may not help your cause. Some roles simply must be present in order to be efficient.
    • What is the personality type of the employee? Introverts, who prefer working alone to begin with, are likely to be very productive in a remote working environment, but for extroverts, having no physical interaction on a daily basis could be pure torture!
    • Limited Collaboration: Depending on the job title and work environment, brainstorming or open collaboration could be hampered by having a remote team environment. It certainly isn’t as easy to walk over to a colleague’s desk and offer some creative input when he or she works 500 miles away!
    • Personal Drive: Another personal attribute, internal drive could be fueled by the energy of an office environment. Call centers and Inside Sales departments are famous for having a “buzz” that motivates others. This is difficult to replicate at your house (unless you want to invite a group of toddlers into your home office)!
    • Undocumented Time: Having a remote workforce (or working remotely) has to rely heavily on trust and accountability. Unless a company has the tools in place, it is difficult to document every hour in the day. Managers are often unable to tell if a person is “putting in the time” until the results of their efforts (or lack thereof) become apparent.


How Do You Determine Which Scenario is For You?

It is obvious that there are positives and negatives to both schools of thought. So how do you determine which scenario is for you? As mentioned in my previous article on company culture, it is important to determine how you and your role “fits” into the company’s goals. Here are some helpful tips to help you get started:

    • Does your position provide you with clear goals? If your position does not have clear goals in place for daily, weekly, monthly productivity, and an outline for how you are to achieve those goals, working in an environment where you don’t have access to colleagues and supervisors could be a recipe for failure. If you transition to a remote environment, be sure that clear expectations are communicated immediately.
    • What is your family situation? Having the ability to work from home could be a blessing or a curse. If you live in a noisy apartment or busy area, and don’t have a quiet work space, going to an office where you can close your door and have some privacy could prove to be more productive. If the opposite is true, and a quiet home office would allow for better productivity, then remote work may be the better choice!
    • What is your personality type? Do you like to work alone with no distractions, or do you need to be around people to work more effectively? Many extroverts find that they need the stimulation of physically being around others to be happy.
    • How are you motivated? Are you a strong self-starter, or do you need to be in an environment that provides consistent motivation? Self-discipline and intrinsic motivation are critical to working effectively when you are alone.


With all of the above details considered, there is an argument for both remote work and working in a physical office. Given the pros and cons of both, if you were offered a position with a higher salary, better benefits, etc. that required a daily commute to an office, or a lower paying position with unlimited flexibility, which would YOU choose?  It also depends on your aspirations for leadership.

For me – the answer is simple. I would choose the higher paying position. I have personally had both situations, (and have raised children while working). Furthering your career and increasing your compensation is a means to better your life for your family – maybe not today, but in the future. The sacrifices I made when my children were young have paid for themselves tenfold – they will go through college debt-free. I’m not saying my perspective is the correct one (or the only one), but I am looking at it from a “lessons learned” standpoint. At the time, I felt guilty that I couldn’t be at “every” event, but my children also understand that from a work ethic standpoint, there is both sacrifice and balance.

Where do you stand? I’d love to hear from you!



Workplace Flexibility


by Natalie Lemons

Natalie Lemons is the President of the Resilience Group, LLC, the author of The Resilient Recruiter, and co-founder of Need a New GigPlease follow her blog for more articles like this, plus helpful free tools to make your business run smoothly.  Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.



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7 thoughts on “Is Flexibility More Important Than a Higher Salary?

  • Great point, I think it depends on what stage of life your in. I have worked remotely in the corporate world and found it very difficult. You always felt like you had to produce more so that coworkers knew you were working when they couldn’t actually see you working. Its also much lonelier

  • We talked about this issue on our broadcast. I see flexibility becoming a major topic for the future workforce as people begin to value their time more than money. When I was younger, money would be the no brainer, as I get older I lean more towards time. You can always make more money, however, you will never get your time back.

    • It has definitely become the obvious choice for job seekers. They understand that time is valuable, and will sacrifice the initial increase in favor of a shorter commute (or no commute)! They can always have that office job later – if office jobs even exist in the future 🙂

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