Paying Remote Workers: A Practical Guide to Global and Local Payscale

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Paying Remote Workers: A Practical Guide to Global and Local Payscale
August 23, 2023

In today's digital era, hiring talent from around the world is becoming the norm, but with it comes the challenge of compensation.

Dive into the complexities of global versus local pay-scales, the merits and pitfalls of each, and the innovative solutions companies are adopting.

Key takeaways

  • Global vs. Local Payscale: The landscape of remote work salaries has shifted the focus to geographic pay policies. Companies must choose between a global payscale, offering equal pay for equal work regardless of location, and a local payscale, which adjusts salaries based on local economic factors.
  • Advantages and Challenges: While a global payscale simplifies administrative processes and promotes equity, it may lead to overcompensation in low-cost regions. Conversely, a local payscale aligns with regional economic realities but can be administratively complex and cause perceptions of inequity among employees.
  • Hybrid Solutions: Recognising the complexities of both models, some companies are adopting hybrid approaches, blending the principles of global and local payscales to balance fairness and financial viability.
  • The Role of EOR Services: Employer of Record (EOR) services, such as Deel, Lano, and Oyster, offer a streamlined solution to the challenges of international hiring. They handle the intricacies of contracts, compliance, and payment processes across multiple countries, enabling businesses to focus on core operations.
  • Inclusive Pay for Diversity: Companies need to adopt inclusive pay policies as the workforce becomes increasingly diverse and remote. This involves considering local wage rates, cost of living, and labour laws to ensure fair compensation for all, irrespective of their geographical location.

Navigating the Nuances: Best Practices for Compensating a Global Remote Workforce

Table of contents:

In the digital age, businesses are no longer confined to employing talent within their immediate geographical radius.

The concept of remote work has opened up a world of possibilities, allowing companies to source skills from across the globe.

However, this new approach brings unique challenges, particularly when paying remote workers.

This article explores the two primary models of remote worker compensation: the global payscale and the local pay scale. Understanding the Landscape of Remote Work Salaries

it's crucial to understand the broader landscape of remote work salaries.

The advent of remote working has necessitated a rethinking of traditional salary structures, typically designed around localised labour markets and cost of living adjustments.

The shift to remote work has brought the concept of geographic pay policies into the spotlight.

These policies adjust pay based on local compensation factors like cost of living and local wages for similar roles. While this approach makes sense in a traditional, office-based work environment, it can become complex when applied to a remote workforce across multiple locations.

The Global Payscale: Equal Pay for Equal Work

The global pay scale model is based on equal pay for equal work.

Under this model, remote workers are paid the same wage for performing the same role, irrespective of location.

The compensation is typically competitive in high-cost areas, ensuring the company can attract top-tier talent worldwide.

2 people smiling
Same pay regardless of location

The Rationale Behind a Global Payscale

The primary advantage of a global pay-scale is its simplicity.

It eliminates the need to constantly adjust salaries based on variations in the cost of living or local wage rates.

This can significantly reduce administrative burden and the potential for errors.

Furthermore, a global payscale can be seen as a fairer approach as it ensures that employees performing the same role are compensated equally, regardless of where they choose to live.

This can contribute to a sense of equity and cohesion within the team, fostering a positive work culture.

Potential Pitfalls of a Global Payscale

However, the global pay-scale model has its challenges.

For starters, this model could lead to overcompensation of employees in low-cost regions.

This increases costs for the company and could potentially create disparities within the local communities.

Another challenge is the constant fluctuation of global economic conditions.

Currency exchange rates, inflation rates, and other economic factors can significantly impact the value of a worldwide pay-scale, making it difficult for companies to maintain a consistent wage level.

The Local Payscale: Adjusting Pay According to Local Standards

We have the local pay-scale model on the other end of the spectrum.

This approach adjusts salaries based on the cost of living and local wages in the employee's location.

It's a more tailored approach, considering each location's economic realities.

2 people smiling eu/usa
Paid local compensation rates

The Logic Behind a Local Pay-scale

The idea behind a local salary range is to provide a similar standard of living for employees doing similar work, regardless of their location.

Salary data often shows wide variations in people's perception of how much compensation equates to emotional well-being.

Therefore, pay based on geography can help even out living standard disparities.

This model also makes sense from a financial perspective.

By aligning salaries with local wage rates, companies can control labour costs more effectively.

This is particularly advantageous for companies operating in regions with high wage disparities.

The Downside of a Local Pay-scale

However, the local pay-scale model also has its downsides.

Firstly, it can be administratively complex, requiring constant updates to keep up with changes in the cost of living and local wage rates.

Secondly, it can lead to perceptions of inequity among employees, particularly if significant wage differences exist between locations.

Moreover, if employees frequently move between locations, their salaries would need to be constantly recalibrated, adding further complexity to the payroll process.

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The Hybrid Approach: Striking a Balance

Given both models' complexities and potential pitfalls, some companies opt for a hybrid approach.

This could involve setting a baseline global salary for each role but adjusting it based on local cost of living or market rates.

The hybrid model attempts to strike a balance between fairness and financial viability.

It recognises the value of the work performed, irrespective of location, while also considering the realities of different economic environments.

Navigating the Transition: From Local to Global Pay Scale

For companies considering a shift from a local to a global pay scale, navigating the transition carefully is essential.

This involves communicating clearly with employees about the reasons for the change and how it will impact their salaries.

Companies may choose to freeze salary growth for employees already earning above the global rate rather than implementing immediate pay cuts.

This approach can minimise resistance and maintain employee morale during the transition.

The Future of Paying Remote Workers

As remote work becomes increasingly commonplace, companies must continue refining their approaches to paying remote workers.

The global versus local payscale debate is likely to continue, with companies striving to balance fairness, competitiveness, and financial viability.

In the end, the right approach will depend on a multitude of factors, including the nature of the work, the geographic distribution of the workforce, and the company's financial resources.

What's clear, however, is that the old compensation models are no longer sufficient. In the era of remote work, companies need to adopt more flexible, forward-thinking approaches to pay.

Inclusive Pay Policies for a Diverse Workforce

Promoting diversity and inclusion is vital to fostering a positive work culture.

This applies to pay policies as well. An inclusive pay policy should consider a remote workforce's diverse needs and circumstances, ensuring that all employees feel fairly compensated, regardless of their location.

Companies can consider factors such as local wage rates, cost of living, and local labour laws to create an inclusive pay policy.

They can also seek to understand the unique challenges faced by remote workers, such as the cost of setting up a home office or the impact of time zone differences on work-life balance.

By taking these factors into account, companies can develop a pay policy that not only meets the business's needs but also supports their employees' well-being and job satisfaction.

Leveraging Employer of Record (EOR) Services for Simplified Remote Payment

While the above models of remote worker compensation provide insights into the complexities surrounding global and local pay-scales, there's another angle to consider: the administrative and legal challenges of hiring across borders.

This is where the services of an Employer of Record (EOR) can prove invaluable.

An EOR is a third-party organisation that handles the administrative, legal, and compliance aspects of employing remote workers in different countries.

Instead of navigating the myriad of local labour laws, tax implications, and payment procedures, companies can lean on the expertise of an EOR to simplify the process.

Here are three leading EOR companies that can assist you in managing and paying your remote workforce:

  1. Deel: Recognised for its comprehensive platform, Deel simplifies international hiring by managing contracts, tax documents, and payroll compliance for over 150 countries. Their platform ensures that remote workers get paid on time and in their preferred currency, reducing the complexities associated with international payments.
  2. Lano: Lano stands out for its intuitive user interface and efficient international payroll, taxes, and compliance management. They ensure that remote workers are paid accurately and that companies comply with local labour laws, eliminating potential legal headaches.
  3. Oyster: Focusing on creating a boundary-less world for employment, Oyster handles the nuances of hiring and paying global teams. Their platform provides detailed insights into local employment regulations and benefits, ensuring compliance and a seamless payment experience for remote workers.

By partnering with companies like Deel, Lano, or Oyster, businesses can sidestep the challenges of international hiring and focus on what they do best: building successful teams and products.

Final Thoughts

Paying remote workers is a complex issue that requires careful thought and planning.

Whether you opt for a global salary, a local one, or a hybrid approach, the key is ensuring that your pay policy is fair, competitive, and aligned with your company's culture and values.

By taking a strategic approach to paying remote workers, you can attract and retain the best talent, foster a positive work culture, and ensure the long-term success of your remote work programme.

As remote work continues to evolve, companies that can adapt and innovate will be best positioned to thrive in the new world of work.

paul arnesen

Paul Arnesen

Paul Arnesen is a human capital strategist with more than 10 years experience working with companies globally with HR processes and global strategic direction. Paul is from Norway, but lives in Milan, Italy.