More companies have embraced remote work permanently, and that has spurred some employees to relocate to other parts of the country. But moving to a less expensive area can come with a trade-off: a smaller paycheck.
That’s not the case at Reddit, though.
The San Francisco-based company recently announced it will allow most of its employees to work wherever they want, whether that’s in the office, remotely or a little of both. And if employees decide to move, their pay won’t be reduced.
The company got rid of geographic compensation zones in the US, and now – no matter where a worker lives – compensation will be tied to the salary ranges of high-cost areas like San Francisco or New York.
CNN Business spoke with Reddit’s Chief People Officer Nellie Peshkov to learn more about the new policy. Here’s what she had to say.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
Why did Reddit decide to let remote workers keep their salary where it is?
What we’ve learned is that the majority of our employees wanted the flexibility to be able to work remotely and to work from an office. There was a percentage of our employees that [preferred] to continue to work remotely full-time, so the diversity of our employees’ needs was a driving factor for us to develop a strategy that anchors on providing flexibility to our employees wherever they want to do work from.
Because we learned that their impact isn’t differentiated based on their location, we knew that we didn’t have to pay them differently within the US, so we eliminated geographical zones from our compensation structure and now all employees in the US are paid within the same range and it means being rewarded for their impact, not their location.
What has the response been like from employees?
Our employees really appreciate the support and the recognition of their diverse needs.
They also appreciate that they can now make a decision perhaps to move away from higher cost of living areas and do what is best for their family without needing to sacrifice their financial well-being. Compensation change is a big factor in that kind of decision and we’ve removed that as an obstacle.
What about new hires?
We do believe that having a strategy for flexible work by paying all our employees within the same range in the United States, will allow us to attract and retain great employees from diverse backgrounds and diverse communities throughout the country.
Previously, our biggest challenge was to ask people to uproot themselves and their families and separate from their communities and relocate to locations where we have offices. Now we won’t ask people to make that sacrifice.
How will you maintain engagement and connection with a distributed workforce?
We do have a vision for our offices to be that place where people come together and spend time with one another and have this moment of connection. So even if someone is an employee who works remotely all the time or a majority of the time, they are still [able to] travel to the office throughout the year in order to build those relationships, which we still think is really important.
Our offices will feel much more communal, we will create this idea of neighborhoods within our offices and each team will have its own neighborhood. So when it is safe and it’s time for us to be able to use our offices in that way, they will be ready and set up for people to enjoy them.
You are planning to redesign the offices?
We have to reimagine and shift away from this idea that people come into the office to do their work at their desk. We imagine that now offices will become more for gatherings and more of a place for collaboration and innovation and connection.
So instead of having individual desks for every employee, it will be more of those communal spaces for each team.
How has Reddit’s work flow and work style change since going remote?
What we learned most is there no one-size fits all. Every team, every person has their own expectation and idea of work-life balance and how to be effective with work and personal life. We invested quite a bit in providing guidance and training to our managers in how to lead remote and distributed teams. We’ve provided a lot of guidance and best practices to our employees on how to be effective and how to create boundaries between work and personal life when you are doing both in the same space.
And quite frankly, we role model a lot. The executive team role models a healthy, efficient and effective way of working, but [they are] also creating boundaries.
I was very open with our company and wrote a blog about being a mom of four kids and how I created boundaries to ensure that I don’t stay glued to the screen in my office from morning to evening because my mom duties didn’t go away during the pandemic. And, in fact, they got harder because my kids are doing distanced learning at home and I know my experience and story is not unique.
So talking about it publicly within our company and sharing the boundaries that I’ve created, and that, as an executive, I can do it and I expect everyone else in the company to figure out what the boundaries look like for them and we will support them.
Have there been any new programs or benefits for working parents who are struggling with all the demands?
We’ve always provided funds for our employees to purchase items they’ve needed to be successful, whether it was learning a new skill or paying for pet insurance or commuter benefits.
At the beginning of the pandemic…we removed the limitations and told employees to expense anything that will help you be successful. If you need to expense a tutor for your children, please go ahead and do that. If you expense internet or need to buy an extra laptop because your child is doing distance learning, you can go ahead and do that.
Providing that flexibility and empowering employees to decide how they want to use their benefits to be physically healthy and also mentally and emotionally healthy, whether it’s for themselves or their families, helps us support our employees in ways that they perhaps previously didn’t need support.
Were you seeing signs of burnout and what are you doing to prevent that?
We talk about it. It’s really important to ensure that mental health and burnout is not a taboo topic. We have an unlimited PTO policy so we’re continually reminding our employees to take time off.
In addition to that, every month we’ve been giving a company-wide day off. Sometimes we do it around national holidays so a three-day weekend turns into a four-day weekend.