Study: 80% of Workers Would Relocate for Work During Pandemic

After the COVID-19 pandemic upended our world, many industries have been forever changed – for better or for worse – by the impact of the coronavirus. However, a recent 2021 study proved that mobile workers are undeterred. It said 80% of workers would relocate even during the pandemic, including 31% of them from different parts of the world.

These numbers jump even higher when assessing post-pandemic relocation, with 84% of saying they’d relocate when COVID-19 is no longer prevalent throughout the world, including 46% would relocate internationally. 

Even more astounding, nearly 3 in 5 workers said COVID-19 has made them more likely to relocate in general. 

The study titled State of Mobility 2021 was presented by Graebal in partnership with Wakefield Research. 

Breaking it down further, workers look forward to long-term relocations. Of the 31% who said they’d relocate internationally during the pandemic, more than 45% indicate their willingness to stay abroad for more than 3 years. 

Global mobility managers will need to evaluate the incentives and benefits for each relocation to ensure that mobile employees are satisfied with their relocation support. It’s time for global mobility teams to get a seat at the leadership table and decide on planning policies, benefits, timelines and budgets.

In the study, it said the pandemic created more awareness within companies of the importance of talent mobility. On a more tactical level, these findings indicate now is not the time to slow down when it comes to talent mobility program strategy and planning. Mobile employees will need support to get the most rewarding opportunities.

Family relocations 

Who prefers to relocate — coupled workers or single people? Surprisingly, workers who are married or in a relationship are more willing to relocate for work during the pandemic at 81%, while only 64% of singles are willing to do so.

Even with children, almost nine in 10 workers with kids at 89% are willing to physically relocate for work during the crisis — significantly more than 65% of their child-free counterparts who said the same. Overall, family relocations are expected to rise, as nearly half of respondents said they’d only be willing to relocate for less than six months without their family or partner.

Seventy-two percent of parents noted that family assistance, such as quality and availability of schools for children, as their biggest concern in relocating to another country for work.

More willing to work abroad

Why are there many workers willing to work abroad at this time? Workers view international relocation as a smart career move, with 87% believing it’s a great opportunity to advance their career. More than 9 in 10 workers (91%) say companies are also more likely than ever to hire job candidates with international experience. 

The only concerns for those looking to relocate hinge on two things — health and safety risks at 39%; lack of friends or family for social support at 39% and language or culture barriers at 38%. But these are minor concerns as many are driven by having a better lifestyle for their family, which many see in California which offers the highest wages in many industries, especially those in the technology field. 

As the world inches toward a post-pandemic world and all the adjustments that requires, global mobility professionals need to review their strategy for the next few years.

Many mobility professionals are reviewing their policy structures, especially in the following areas:

Lump sum: Guidance from in-house global mobility team could help ensure employees feel supported. 

Inclusive policies: Introducing inclusive policies impact the ability to attract and retain diverse talents and ensure their success. A low persistence rate for assignments is bound to be extremely costly. 

Flexible policies: Global mobility professionals will need to update and adjust policies to incorporate insights from this study, balancing employee autonomy and programs costs among their talents

As for being back to the office? Workers would reportedly prefer to see the world through more than just a screen, with about 3 to 4 workers (57%) choosing relocating in-person rather than virtually. 

Respondents of the study are reportedly being more honest about what they want. It may have a lot to do with the pandemic but the past year has certainly made people speak up and not waste anyone’s time when it comes to making things happen in their lives or career.