Working from home, the new normal or the new way for businesses to cut costs?

City law firm Stephenson Harwood has announced they will now allow staff to work fully remote with a minimum of one day per month in the office. The catch? A hefty 20% annual pay cut.

This package has been delivered to take out the need for staff to work and live in London for those that do not want to. This of course comes with removing, the London weighting added onto your annual salary. This is where your pay increases to accommodate the costs of London travel and general living.

The firm has spoken and said throughout the pandemic they saw many new hires from outside of London due to logistics and resourcing and that their salaries were adjusted to compensate for this.

It seems, despite Stephenson Harwood publishing this as an incentive, only a small percentage have currently taken up the package with no trainees or junior lawyers getting onboard. This potentially indicates how the experience of working in London can influence your view of working from home full time.

Advantages of Working From Home

Are they any advantages of working from home and who does it benefit more, the employee or the employer?

There are of course advantages of working from home, the first that comes to mind is being able to cut down on wasted travel time, travel costs, and of course takeaway coffee! With no commute, it enables workers more time to relax and reduces the stress and anxiety of getting to work on time.

With being remote, there comes with it the added benefit of being able to work anywhere in the country. A 20% pay cut seems a good offer to someone looking to work closer to family and friends or perhaps after a country lifestyle.


Working full time from home comes with it an inevitable risk of overworking and exhaustion. To be within arm’s reach of your work constantly makes it harder for some to let go and have proper breaks.

There are many distractions at home from uncompleted chores, kids, and pets making it hard to stay focused. Another obvious trait of working home and one which was felt heavily over the pandemic is the increased isolation of workers lacking the contact time. This can make employees feel disconnected from the work team and make it harder to build up a rapport within the staff.

What is Going on Elsewhere?

Around the globe, companies are already facing issues with choosing to offer work-from-home packages. Apple is facing a recent lawsuit with employees claiming that ordering staff to go gradually back to working in the office a minimum of three days a week is discriminatory. 

The apple employees claim it only benefits the company and it is a show of privilege to be able to decide where you want to work and be able to afford transport, be it private or public. The letter gained little traction though with just over 200 signatures, representing 0.1% of the company’s employees.

What is the Bottom Line?

Only a small percentage of staff have taken up the offer of working from home with Stephenson Harwood. It is preferable if you were nearing retirement age and already bored with having to commute and sit in an office and prefer to be remote in a setting of your choice.

What are the Stats?

During January of this year, 36% of adults reported to the government that they were working from home at least one day per week with 46% of these homeworkers saying they spent less as a result of homeworking over the pandemic and beyond. There is still the ongoing battle between employees against employer with employees claiming that as offices are reducing their outgoings from water usage to electricity, there is no need to reduce employee pay. Another issue highlighted is the requirement to bill the same hours as you would have been doing with full pay, making it an uneven advantage to the employer.

Do the benefits do enough to sway employees to take up permanent flexible working or will they turn around and expect to do less work as a result?