People move for a wide variety of reasons with the most common motivations being a new job (which would include increased compensation or a promotion), to be closer to family or to be with a significant other. The reality is that people tend to stay in their comfort zone unless they are presented with a better option or set of options. But at the same time, in a 2018 survey, only 4% said they would be entirely unwilling to relocate, with commenters citing a love for their current location, the timing in their career, the difficulty of selling their house, etc. So the majority are open to the idea of relocating.
We are currently seeing people moving out of more densely populated areas due to COVID-19, and with the increasing ability to work remotely, the opportunity to live where you want is presenting itself to people. In fact, survey results from Fast (an e-commerce payment startup) finds that one in three Americans are considering a relocation because of COVID-19, most often to a less populated area. According to Fast, "As the realities of the pandemic continue to discourage and restrict movement, especially in cities, American workers say that they are most often considering a move to a less populated area (40%), followed by 36% who say it’s because there are more opportunities to work remotely than before the pandemic and 31% who are looking for a lower cost of living."
With the rise (and embracing) of remote work, employees more often are no longer tied to a specific location to be able to perform their functions and are able to move out of expensive, and often densely populated, housing locations that may also be far away from family and friends. In essence, moving away from (as opposed to moving to) where a job was previously located is something more employees are looking into and that may be something for companies to consider in the "new normal" working environment.
Today more than ever, jobs can move to people or even with people. A new batch of "hand-raisers" — who are those who initiate their own relocations for personal preferences as opposed to it being a company-driven request — may be the next big trend. More companies may need to design supportive relocation policies to help attract and retain talented individuals as opposed to allowing them to head out the employment door to another company. The Fast COO, Allison Barr Allen, says, "Smart companies realize that their highly skilled employees will leave if they aren’t given the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world."
As we hone in on a vaccine, and eventually get to a place where the virus does not interfere with major life decisions, will employees still seek to work remotely and desire relocation to locations of their choice that better balance all of their well-being needs?
The COVID-19 crisis has shifted the way we work, live, and think about the future. To adapt to these changes, many businesses have turned to remote work while weighing the return to the physical workspace, taking safety concerns and duty of care obligations into consideration. Now, research shows that the remote work environment compounded with COVID-related concerns has many American workers considering relocation.