Stripe Is Offering $20,000 Bonus To Employees Who Relocate To Less Expensive Cities, But It Comes With A Pay Reduction


Topline

Stripe is offering a $20,000 bonus to employees who move away from San Francisco, New York City or Seattle but it comes with a 10% pay reduction, spokesman Mike Manning told Forbes, making the e-commerce and mobile payment processor the latest tech company to implement pay cuts for workers who chose to relocate to less expensive cities as remote work policies are extended because of the pandemic. 

Key Facts

Stripe, which has more than 2,800 employees, has relied on remote work for years and in May announced it would hire at least 100 remote engineers, saying remote workers have helped the company stay close to customers so they can tailor Stripe’s products accordingly. 

Stripe joins other technology companies that have said they’ll cut the pay of employees who move to less expensive cities, including the social media companies Facebook and Twitter and enterprise software companies VMware and ServiceNow, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

Further Background

Just as many white-collar Americans are reconsidering the cost of living in expensive cities if remote work policies continue, many companies are also reconsidering expensive office costs. Some companies have had market-based salary policies in place for years, meaning pay is adjusted based on the cost of living or cost of labor in the area. 

Tangent

The job search marketplace Hired surveyed 2,300 tech workers and found that 55% said they would not be willing to accept a reduced salary if their employer made work from home permanent. An overwhelming 90% said the same job should receive the same pay, regardless of if the person works remotely, but 40% said they support location adjustments. More than half, 53%, said they would be “likely” or “very likely” to move to a city with a lower cost of living if allowed to work from home permanently. 

Further Reading

Stripe Workers Who Relocate Get $20,000 Bonus and a Pay Cut (Bloomberg)

Why Silicon Valley workers who relocate for remote work face pay cuts (Fox Business)

2020 State of Salaries Report: Salary benchmarks and talent preferences (Hired)



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Preparing Offices For The Safe Return Of Employees


Lockdowns are ending and Americans are slowly returning to their old workday haunts, aka their offices. It’d be great if they were doing so with the peace of mind the deadly virus is behind us. Sadly, as we’re constantly told, COVID-19 is still “out there.” The need to return to the office while sidestepping exposure is sparking all kinds of debate. Issues include how to prepare offices for workers’ safe return, whether brand new buildings will prove safer than old ones and even whether there exist ideal settings to dodge COVID-19.

Questions about how to prepare workplaces for an influx of germaphobes led design firm Nelson Worldwide to compile a tip sheet with guidelines fostering a safe and motivating workplace setting. The ground rules include a number of notable line items. To mitigate germs, use disposable flat wear and eating utensils and temporarily outlaw reusable cups and utensils. Minimize contact with communal settings like conference rooms and gathering areas and their tables and chairs by urging stand-up meetings. Give workers physical protection between work stations by installing clear panels or sneeze guards.

Re-entry software

With workers re-entering their old offices, changing guidelines and evolving practices of the type cited above are challenging the ability of commercial property owners/operators to handle everything at once. Building operations software providers are responding.

Among them is Building Engines, which is giving free access to critical building operations software to help CRE pros deal with COVID-19 response. Building Engines is offering three simplified software modules preconfigured to buttress property reopening salvos during the pandemic. This new release provides rapid access for those property teams without in-place operations software or software that can address COVID-19 use cases.

The first of the modules focuses on work orders, providing a fixed set of issue types related to possible demands resulting from the pandemic. This module enables operators to start work more expeditiously, and lets tenants submit orders from preferred devices.

The second module drills down into building communications, addressing owners’ and operators’ need for ongoing communication with tenants, and the fact emergency-specific communication protocols and safety guideline notifications are now even more a must.

The third module zooms in on inspections, which increasingly will be undertaken to learn whether masks are being worn, hand-sanitizing stations refilled, and high-touch surfaces cleaned. This module provides COVID-19 and cleaning-demand related templates that will become increasingly essential in an era of critical attention to disinfecting.

New and old

Just when you thought you had heard every aspect of the pandemic discussed, a fresh debate has emerged around the issue of new versus old buildings. In Manhattan, most office space exists in buildings more than a half-century old. That’s spurred the question of not just whether landlords can adapt, but whether the underlying structures themselves are adaptable enough, and whether brand new buildings might enjoy an advantage in being more pliant and malleable.

Arguing new buildings do have a leg up are officials of RAL Companies, designer and developer of the under-construction Manhattan office building Zero Irving. Ground had been broken and work begun on the structure before the health crisis unfolded. But as they considered their new building, members of the development team recognized it likely would benefit from a distinct flexibility and nimbleness older buildings lack. That might make it a preferred office setting for employers seeking to keep their workers safe.

“We understand that tenants will have very different needs depending on how they decide to move forward in this new reality,” says Josh Wein, managing director with RAL, noting the building will cater to both emerging tech firms and long-established legacy companies. “Zero Irving is in a way privileged. It is uniquely positioned to cater to tenants regardless of how they want to set up their space and tackle office life post COVID-19.”



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Mr. Cooper shuttering Oregon office, laying off 301 employees


For the second time in just over a year, more than 300 people employed by mortgage servicer Seterus are about to see their jobs eliminated.

Just over a year ago, IBM laid off just over 300 employees within its mortgage servicing operation, Seterus. That move came just days after Mr. Cooper Group announced it was purchasing Seterus from IBM.

And now, one year later, Mr. Cooper is laying off another 300 employees from within the Seterus servicing operation.

Mr. Cooper (the company formerly known as Nationstar) is shutting down a Beaverton, Oregon office location that was part of the Seterus acquisition and eliminating all 301 positions at that location.

The layoffs were revealed in a WARN Notice filed with the state of Oregon. According to that WARN Notice, which can be read here, the closure of the Oregon facility is “expected to be permanent” and the layoffs are “expected to be permanent.”

The facility is expected to close on March 18, 2020.

“Mr. Cooper Group continuously looks for ways to further increase efficiencies that best meet the needs of our team members, customers and shareholders and ensures the long-term success of the business,” the company said in a statement.

“After careful consideration of all our options and strategic priorities, we made the decision to close the Beaverton, Oregon location,” the company continued.

“While we deeply regret team members in Oregon will be impacted, we believe our changes will allow for investments that further our goals and improve the customer experience,” the company concluded. “We are dedicated to supporting our Beaverton employees in this transition with career services and, where we can, have worked to find new opportunities for them within the company.” 

According to the company, the affected employees were told two months in advance that the office would be closing. Beyond that, the company is offering career transition support, including career coaching, resume and cover letter assistance, networking tips, mock interviews, and other aid to the affected employees.

Beyond that, the affected employees will have the option of consider a move to Mr. Cooper’s Texas offices and receive a stipend for relocation.

Seterus became part of Mr. Cooper in March 2019. At the time, Mr. Cooper said that the deal would add 300,000 new mortgage servicing customers to its portfolio. The deal included $24 billion in government-sponsored enterprise mortgages and a subservicing contract for $24 billion.

“We are excited to welcome more than 300,000 customers and the Seterus team to the Mr. Cooper Group family,” Mr. Cooper Group Chairman and CEO Jay Bray said when the deal was first announced.

“We are confident our new team will be energized by our people-first culture, and our new customers will benefit from our user-friendly mobile and online tools designed to help them manage their home finances,” Bray continued. “This transaction is consistent with our outlook for profitability targets and portfolio growth.”

But now, nearly a year later, more than 300 of those Seterus employees are about to be out of a job.

The layoffs at Mr. Cooper were first reported by The Oregonian.



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Purplebricks Canada Offered Employees Days Off For Made Up 5-Star Reviews


Purplebricks Canada has offered its employees paid days off in exchange for made up positive reviews on Facebook and Google.

In an email sent by Purplebricks Canada marketing department to the company’s whole 200-people staff, exclusively obtained by this reporter, the online estate agent told employees to ask their family and friends to leave glowing online reviews–“whether or not” they were Purplebricks customers.

“No need to fabricate stories, just an ‘I think Purplebricks is great,’ or ‘Purplebricks is the future of real estate’ would be fantastic!,” read the email, which was sent by one of the company’s marketing directors in March 2019.  

The email invited to leave the reviews on Purplebricks Canada Facebook pages or 5-star rating reviews on Google Reviews.

The employees then had to take screenshots of the reviews they “helped generate” as proof and send them back to the company’s marketing department.

“The staff member who accumulates the most reviews from family and friends will win a PAID DAY OFF!,” the email continued.

A review on Google and one on Facebook by the same person would “count” as two reviews.

The marketing department, however, discouraged estate agents from posting reviews themselves, as “fake reviews” would violate the websites’ terms and conditions.  

“Here’s what you must not do: 1. Submit your own reviews (that includes using accounts under names other than your own). ‘Fake’ reviews would violate our terms of use agreements and could get us into hot water! 2. Ask clients for their reviews, as we have several client review incentive programs already running.”

The email explained that when real estate broker platform ComFree was acquired by Purplebricks, in 2018, they “weren’t able to bring our stellar Facebook and Google reviews with us.”

Purplebricks was therefore asking its employees to help “boost our online reviews” and “inspire the trust that will win us more signs in the ground!”

“Thanks for helping our company grow,” the email concluded.

A former Purplebricks Canada employee, who received the email, said: “I sent a copy of the email to Facebook, who did nothing with it. I also sent it to Google, but received no reply.”

The former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they didn’t participate. “I’m not sure who ‘won’ the incentive,” they added. “When I received the email I was disgusted that Purplebricks thought it necessary to cheat to get reviews. They asked us to get friends and family, who had never used the service, to post 5-star reviews online, focusing on Google and Facebook, and I was even more disgusted to find that so many of my colleagues went along with it. It’s deceiving to the public.” 

Purplebricks Canada issued the following statement: “[This] was an isolated and misguided initiative. It followed the name change from Comfree to Purplebricks and the refusal of Google and Facebook to transfer the reviews that were already on their sites; it will never happen again. Purplebricks Canada recognises that it’s vital for all reviews to be genuine and authentic—and we work hard to earn positive feedback from our customers through our expertise and great service.” 

A spokesperson for the company said that the email, “though sent in good faith”, was “a complete one-off” and was “an error of judgement.” 

“We only offered this incentive once, in March 2019, and it generated only a handful of reviews,” the spokesperson added.  

Purplebricks was founded in the U.K. in 2014. In July 2018, it acquired the ComFree Network in Canada from Yellow Pages Digital & Media Solutions for around $50 million.

The British online estate agent has already been in the spotlight for its online reviews. In September 2019, an investigation by WIRED UK found evidence that Purplebricks selectively screened reviews in order to skew its online ratings to be more positive.



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