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| 3 minutes read

Remote work options motivating employee relocation

In a recent LinkedIn poll, I asked how the increase in remote and hybrid work models being adopted by companies would impact relocation volumes within global mobility programs. You can see that about a third of people felt that the changing work models across organizations will ultimately lead to a reduction in volume. The premise being that now that you don't have to have someone in a specific location, it will minimize the need for corporate-sponsored relocation. This idea is in effect bringing jobs to people, rather than bringing people to jobs. 

Nearly half of the respondents felt that it is either hard to predict at this point or that changing work models won't change the need for relocation and volume will remain approximately the same. These people are feeling like there are so many "unknowns" and "volatility" that it is just too crazy to predict where and how this is going to go, much like with many other things in life at this moment. Add in another variable — a new variant, the impact of inflation, a geopolitical conflict, ongoing supply chain issues, more natural disasters sparked by the climate crisis, etc. — and things can unravel in some new way.

But then there was the 20% of respondents who looked out ahead and said they actually think that more employees will relocate. They are predicting that these changing work models allow for greater choice and flexibility for employees to consider where they want to live. This choice and flexibility then allows for your employees to seek out a better living arrangement that centers around their needs and wants...or their wellbeing. The employee can move back closer to friends and family. They can now consider living in a physical environment that better caters to their desired lifestyle. They can possibly move to a bigger house in a less congested location and be better off financially.

This New York Times article points out that one of the trends being seen is that remote work is prompting workers to look for a different living situation where they can save money on commuting, office clothes, work lunches and other expenses. Attracted to lower costs of living, many are searching out of town for their next home now that they can do so more freely. About 31 percent of Redfin users were looking online at homes in a particular metro area outside of their own in the last few months of 2021, according to a study of two million online home searchers.  

"The results revealed that large metros like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles had the highest net outflow (users seeking to leave, minus those seeking to come) during Q4 2021. Smaller, cheaper metros like Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas had the highest net inflow."

Redfin states that homebuyer interest in relocating to a new part of the country rose with the onset of the pandemic and has remained elevated for nearly two years, partly due to low mortgage rates. They also attribute it to the surge in remote work that’s allowing Americans to choose where they live based on things like affordability and weather rather than proximity to an office. Overall, the share of house hunters looking to relocate is near the pandemic high of 31.5% set in Q1 of last year. We'll see whether changing mortgage rates and a severe lack of inventory has any effect, but some are predicting this trend will remain.

How does it impact global mobility? As an extension of talent management, many companies are considering whether it will be an advantage to look at offering some type of support to facilitate these self-initiated relocations. Programs are asking whether they should look at contributing financial assistance and relocation services to be able to retain and attract these kinds of employees (sometimes referred to as "handraisers" due to their willingness to relocate). Many ponder the cost of losing talent, having to rehire and onboard and compare that to the cost of providing some support for the relocation. 

Redfin shares that the data reinforces that people are leaving big, expensive cities. With inflation where it is right now, we may see even more of an exodus, too. In this post, we provided some ideas for how global mobility programs could attract and retain talent, and one idea was to consider further supporting "handraisers." Gaining an advantage in this current talent environment might be worth the contribution it would take to support these moves. As our CEO stated, "There is no silver bullet that can solve the current talent challenges. But your organization — and mobility team — can find an advantage if you’re taking the right approach."

For more on the topic, check out our piece on supporting "de-location" within your mobility program.

About 31.2 percent of Redfin users were doing just that in the last few months of 2021, according to a study of two million online home searchers. That’s an increase from 26.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2019. (To be counted as a serious out-of-town buyer, a Redfin user had to have viewed at least 10 homes in a particular metro area, and homes in that area had to make up at least 80 percent of the user’s searches.)


remote work, employee relocation, self-intiated, handraiser, cost of living, de-location, support, benefits, talent, attract, retain, talent strategy, millenials, life balance, wellbeing