Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been much speculation and discussion surrounding the future of work and what this means for companies and employees as they determine their long term office-based vs remote working policies. For the first time ever, large proportions of workers are no longer tied to living within commuting distance of the office, with as many as a third of British people feeling encouraged to move further away given new flexible working options.
Within the UK, there is a subtle shift away from urban life with its high cost of living – according to the Mayor of London’s office, 1 in 7 Londoners plan to leave the city post-pandemic. This could be hugely beneficial to levelling the employment and talent landscape across the country and in rural areas, with over half of UK workers predicting a ‘reverse brain drain’ from the capital to the wider UK as a result.
And while various companies will be watching closely to see how employees respond to this new way of working and living, one of the biggest implications for companies in a post-pandemic workforce will be on ‘expat employees’ – those who are either stationed abroad at present, or those who are keen to do so once Covid allows.
There is a noticeable trend of current expats looking to return home, driven in part by closed borders and long periods of being unable to see family over the last year. A Knight Frank survey of its global customer base indicated that 29% of expat workers were moving back to their home country due to Covid. Of course, the decision might not always be made by the employee proactively: Oxford Economics estimates that 10% of UAE residents could leave if jobs are cut due to the financial fallout from the pandemic, while Brexit-related visa issues might be the deciding factor for employees stationed throughout Europe.
While many internationally based employees may have felt the need to return home, there is also an increasing collective impatience to begin to travel and explore the world again, and this is likely to be reflected in future employee requests to be posted abroad. According to corporate relocation firm Graebel Companies Inc, nearly 3 in 5 workers are more willing to relocate for work now than they were before the pandemic.
Given the rise in expats returning, and the subsequent back-filling of those roles with employees keen for a new location after a long period of limited travel, there is likely to be a surge in demand for corporate relocation services looking to make that transition as smooth as possible for companies and employees alike.
And of course, with all rising trends, comes the demand for infrastructure to support this. One company, Plus Relocation has launched Elo for Employees, a software which streamlines the relocation process and helps to alleviate employee stress by providing everything from expense management for moving to helpful admin checklists and access to a full relocation team.
There are many companies within the field of corporate relocations, all geared towards a seamless move for all involved, including Clearview Relocation, Bournes, Vantage Relocation and BTR International, to name a few. Some companies go further, and act almost like concierge services: Citrus Relocation will manage everything right down to the moving of employees’ pets through to setting up utilities and bank accounts, while The Relocation Consultancy will even offer cultural training for expats to learn British customs.
Through Mayfair Concierge, clients are relocated anywhere across the UK: it manages everything a relocating executive could possibly need, whether it be handling the legal work and property renovations or sourcing artwork for the new home and making key introductions to the ‘right’ schools. At a time when many are still cautious to travel and visit multiple neighbourhoods, properties and schools, services such as these are a godsend to individuals looking for guidance.
Of course, the large property consultancies and estate agents have long been natural one-stop-shops for corporate relocation: Foxtons and KFH can manage the process for anyone moving to London from abroad, while Savils will relocate individuals or corporate clients anywhere in the UK and beyond, depending on their needs.
As well as the ‘official’ expats in need of moving due to work commitments, there is also a rising trend for countries to create remote worker visas as a way of encouraging relocation and the subsequent economic investment these professionals will bring. Estonia and Barbados are two such examples, while Las Vegas is enticing remote workers with promises of lower tax and property costs – a smart move to fuel investment in a city which will have been affected greatly by the rapid decline in tourism.
Whether individuals consider a move to rural England or a stint in the Caribbean, relocation services will need to be prepared to showcase their offerings and demonstrate their ability to make every move seamless – from the shipping of furniture and pets, right down to nailing the final piece of artwork on the wall.