All major events bring unanticipated consequences, and the coronavirus pandemic changed how and where we worked and collaborated. In some cases, it accelerated trends that were already underway. Incredibly, all of this happened within the span of a few months!
- The remote workforce increased from around 15 percent of professionals to nearly 100 percent—at least temporarily.
- Many companies postponed employee relocations and ended global assignments early, particularly during the initial months of the pandemic.
- Technology became even more central to our work routines. Zoom and other video platforms became our new “conference room”, edging out old-school teleconferences.
- Virtual household goods surveys, electronic signatures and creative closing techniques moved from the margins to the mainstream.
- Business travel all but ceased in favor of videoconferencing.
What Will 2021 Bring for Companies that Relocate Employees and Global Mobility Trends?
The experts tell us that the third wave of the pandemic will make early 2021 problematic, but the gradual rollout of the Covid vaccines promises to bring a gradual return to normalcy later in the year. As the pandemic recedes, several workforce and global mobility trends—newer and continuing—will influence talent management and mobility decisions.
- Some companies, including large tech organizations, have announced that their employees will not return to the office before next fall, and some will be permitted to work remotely on a permanent basis. In announcing its move from Silicon Valley to Austin, Oracle said that many of its employees would be able to choose their office location and to work remotely part or full time.
- With more employees living where they want and working remotely, business travel could bounce back more rapidly than expected.
- Companies that continue to allow 100 percent remote work will need to track where each of their employees is residing, from both a duty of care and a tax compliance perspective. While working remotely during the pandemic, some employees have taken the opportunity to move without telling their employer.
- Even with businesses retaining more flexible remote work policies post-pandemic, many will still expect employees to be in the office all or much of the time. Google is considering at least three “collaboration days” in the office each week, with the other days being remote.
- While the headline unemployment rate is much higher than a year ago, competition for professional talent will continue to be keen.
- Five thousand Boomers—many in management and leadership roles—continue to leave the U.S. workforce every day. Some employees nearing retirement were laid off due to the pandemic and opted to retire early. Mobility will be one tool that companies can use to fill those roles.
- Younger employees, in particular, continue to express interest in international work experiences, often with modest expectations for employer financial support.
- Even with the gradual resumption of in-person meetings, the newer technologies discussed earlier will remain an integral part of our work routines.
Planning for a Changed Environment
Employee mobility will continue to be an important talent management tool for companies to ensure they have the right talent in the right location and to develop their future leaders. If the pandemic has spurred your company to evaluate its global mobility program, TRC’s domestic and global relocation best-practices ebooks will be useful resources.
If you are looking for ways to trim your relocation costs, you will find our newest ebook, 16 Ways to Reduce Your Mobility Program Costs, helpful. And if you are assessing your relocation provider relationship, TRC’s recent ebooks on selecting and working with a relocation management company will help with that effort.
TRC’s employee owners wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.