Stop sacrificing salary for flexibility!--and other takeaways from Covid-19

I see you. I see you trying mightily to carve a couple focused working hours from every day of this chaos. I see you balancing the big picture (don’t get sick, don’t get sick) and the little picture (didn’t I just feed you?). Checking in on family and neighbors, wondering about food shortages, all while hitting your deadlines. I see you, because I’m like you, doing the same.


While like you, I’m just trying to get through the day, I also can’t help but think about the future--the future of work, specifically, shaped by the pandemic. One facet I hope will change for the better: We will no longer accept lower salaries for positions that offer flexible hours. After all, aren’t we all working flexible hours now--and still somehow getting the job done?


On this, I am more adamant than ever: Corporations shouldn’t offer lower pay for flexible positions, and my clients shouldn’t accept lower offers. The value you bring isn’t always contingent on where and when you do your job. For now on, when I’m asked, “Is it ok to sacrifice money for a flexible schedule?” my answer will be No. No. Nope, and never again, please.


Surveys show that flexible working hours rank high on the list of benefits employees most want. Women value this even more than men. When I do free salary negotiation workshops across New York with Women.nyc and AAUW and discuss benefits to negotiate, 90 percent of the questions I get are about negotiating flexibility. Audiences are more interested in this than transportation subsidies, continuing education opportunities, even extra vacation days. I’m typically diplomatic in my answers, but not anymore.


From this day forward, I will tell my clients to reach for the sky, in terms of salary, benefits and flexible working hours, without sacrificing one to get the other. It’s time we buried the patriarchal BS that implies a flexible work schedule makes you less of an employee. Flexible employees are and have always been present and accountable. At work, at home, or in the car, they do their part. The ability to be a human and an employee at any level requires acknowledging that sometimes life happens during our working hours. We need employers to embrace this very basic premise.


3 Salary Recommendations Post-Covid I will use with my salary negotiation clients:

  • Stop swapping flexibility for salary. We--all of us--deserve both.

  • Refuse to accept lower pay because you off-ramped. Leadership skills, whenever they were developed, are needed now more than ever. (Do your research, learn the worth of the job, and ask for THAT salary.)

  • Stop feeling guilty for tending to familial, community and societal duties. Men and women are appreciating the fibers that hold our society together. Maintaining these fibers--comforting a child, tending to your mental health, maintaining a clean and safe home--requires physical and emotional work. This is not shameful. It’s simply a fact, and it’s the responsibility of every one of us to undertake that work.

For many of us, these amorphous days at home have sparked questions and even revelations. Hey, eating dinner together more than once a week is pretty nice!

Jeeze, life’s too short to be “aligning” about BS all day.

Where can I apply my skills now that my industry has imploded?

I really don’t want to be soldiering back to any office when this is all behind us.


Don’t push these musings away; take note of them. Use this time to reevaluate your expectations regarding your current position and your career. I strongly believe that chaos creates opportunities. This is your wakeup call to think about what you need now and in the future.