The Zillow Group has rejected an industry trend of rounding up remote workers, and says it will continue to support at-home workers and pay them on par with in-office staff.

As vaccines rolled out over the summer, many employers sought to bring workers back into the office. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, for instance, have made it a requirement. The CoStar Group, while not requiring it, has made a return to office a priority. The firm noted at the end of July that 85% of staff were already back.

“We believe that being physically in the office is essential to collaboration, productivity and company culture,” CoStar CEO Andrew Florance said during a Q2 earnings call.

In recent weeks, Facebook and Alphabet, parent firm of Google, said they would base pay on where its remote workers lived, meaning those who opted for less expensive locales away from Silicon Valley would face pay cuts.

Not so Zillow.

“You can do as good engineering work in a small town as a big city,” Zillow’s chief people officer Dan Spaulding told Business Insider. “To say someone is worth less because they relocated feels weird. They’re doing the same job and delivering the same work.”

Amid the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, Zillow’s announcement must be a relief to employees faced with elevated infection risk and quarantining school-age children. 

And aside from health concerns, many people have gotten used to remote work over the past year and a half. 

“It reshuffled people’s priorities,” Spaulding told Business Insider. “I have never spent more time with my high-school daughter, and I’m not giving that up at this point.”

Zillow’s permissive policy could give it an edge against competitors as it seeks to build its staff. Zillow announced back in March that it would hire 2,000 workers, a 40% increase in headcount. Many of the  new hires will work on the firm’s burgeoning I-Buying business, Zillow Offers, and the company has leveraged work-from-home to broaden its recruitment efforts to labor markets all over the country, and not just its Seattle headquarters.

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