American workers would take an eight percent pay cut, on average, if they could work from home.
This is just one illuminating finding from a working paper by economist researchers Alexandre Mas of Princeton University and Amanda Pallais of Harvard University.
To reach this conclusion, Mas and Pallais conducted an experiment wherein they randomly offered various work arrangements and pay to people applying for jobs at a national call centre. What they found was that a minority of workers (20 percent) preferred working at the office with no pay cuts. They hold this value in the workplace, above all others.
"The great majority of workers do not value scheduling flexibility: either the ability to set their own days and times of work at a fixed number of hours, or the ability to choose the number of hours they work," the researchers stated.
The researchers noted that this discovery contradicts a popular perception that flexibility matters a great deal to workers (as indicated in an article in New York Times Magazine.)
Among the pool of around 7,000 job applicants whose preferences were analyzed, the option to work from home proved far more popular; in fact, workers were willing to accept eight percent lower pay on average to work from home.
The study also uncovered that workers were strongly opposed to the idea of giving employers the right to vary their work schedule.
"The average applicant is willing to take a 20 percent wage cut to avoid these jobs, and almost 40 percent of applicants would not take this job even if it paid 25 percent more than a M-F, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. position," the researchers wrote in their working paper, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
"The distaste for jobs with employer discretion is due to aversion to working non-standard hours, rather than unpredictability in scheduling.”