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Remote Work And Delocation: How To Increase Employee Happiness Post-COVID

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The impact of COVID-19 on the world has been substantial. In spite of brief periods of normalcy in late spring and early summer of 2021, the persistently evolving virus has prevented us from returning to our pre-pandemic lifestyles. With the appearance of the Delta, Delta+, and now the Lambda versions, it is clear that we are not yet out of the woods and must adapt to a new phase of coexistence with this virus. 

But what happens if things ever do “return to normal”? 

It’s easy to understand why our “normal” could be different than it was before the pandemic, given how much of our way of life had to be modified, paused, or adjusted for well over a year. 

People’s preferences for where to live started to change significantly as a result of these huge changes in our way of life and work. 

The pandemic didn’t prevent people from relocating in 2020. While some people moved in with relatives or switched cities, most opted for the safety and quiet of the suburbs or the countryside. 

The reason behind this is that homebuyers, in addition to looking for cheaper housing, also sought additional outdoor and interior living space. 

Millions of people’s lives were changed forever when the option of working remotely became available. As it proved sustainable, more workers began viewing their lives through a new paradigm in which they could work from anywhere.

Remote work is here to stay

Companies and workers who had never used Zoom for business communications encountered significant challenges in the beginning stages of remote work. 

However, as is the case with most things, remote work became familiar and, ultimately, increased productivity. It proved to be long-lasting. 

Indeed, by the middle of 2021, more than half of workers were working remotely, and by year’s end, it was predicted that roughly 40% of workers would be doing so. This suggests that the effects of COVID-19 will be felt for some time to come, with remote employment being an option for many businesses. 

Mostly, this trend may be attributed to the various advantages remote employment provides to businesses. Companies can save money on rent and utilities by allowing some of their workers to telework. For those who do need to be in an office, the space may not need to be in an expensive part of the city.

Employees, too, saw benefits in establishing a better work-life balance.

As the pandemic died down, many businesses revised their remote work practices, and some, including well-known ones, have gone totally remote. 

United States companies in high-cost states like California and New York saw a significant exodus of employees and customers during the epidemic, prompting many to downsize or relocate their operations. 

How does this affect the ways in which businesses try to bring in new employees and keep existing ones?

Impact of remote work on the hiring process

Recruiters understand that with more remote positions available, more people will be vying for the same talent pool. With the option to work remotely, top-tier employees have the flexibility to consider higher salary offers from rival businesses located in other states. 

As a result, this raises the issue of whether or not businesses can reduce payroll expenses by recruiting and hiring employees from regions with lower average living costs. 

Questions about employee preference may arise due to remote working becoming commonplace. While it’s true that many businesses have benefited from allowing their employees to put in some of their time remotely to cut down on expenses, we’re curious as to whether or not those workers genuinely prefer it. 

Is remote work the ideal option for organizations and recruiters trying to give lucrative compensation packages to the finest and brightest employees? 

One survey conducted on 477 employees from a range of seniority levels and industries in the United States offers some insight.

Do employees want remote positions?

Research shows that among respondents with director-level or lower positions, 57.2% strongly favor entirely remote assignments. Positions requiring hybrid working and remote time spent with clients came in second. 

Interestingly, there was a shift in preference for senior & VP titles, with 61.5% of senior responders preferring hybrid work and remote work. This discrepancy may be attributable to age disparities, with more seasoned employees getting promoted to higher positions. 

Leaders in charge of a larger staff may also value the opportunity for at least some face-to-face interaction with their subordinates. 

The data is clear: remote work is vastly favored over on-site employment regardless of generational differences. 

These results imply that, from a recruitment standpoint, totally remote employment is best. Any mixture of in-person and remote would be a close second for offering Director posts and below. 

Senior-level recruitment strategies should aim for a hybrid of in-person and virtual meetings to provide them with a competitive edge.

Are remote role offers more competitive?

It’s natural to think that your company would be seen as competitive if you offered a competitive salary and the option to work remotely. 

However, as the job market becomes more even, competition is increasing for the reasons mentioned above. More than half of today’s workforce already operates remotely; thus, this perk is no longer a competitive advantage. 

However, the results cannot be ignored, and it remains to be seen how successful the recruitment and retention efforts of the businesses that insist on requiring physical presence for all positions are. 

This means that while remote work options are appealing and significant, they are not so unusual as to guarantee a vote from a top contender.

What makes a job offer truly competitive?

An “out of the box” twist can make an offer more appealing than others. 

We’ve already established that many people in 2020 fled the high cost and high population centers of urban areas for the cheaper and less crowded surroundings of the countryside and the suburbs. 

Many office workers received word that working from home would be the new normal for their employers, and while some of these changes were made temporarily to “ride out” the pandemic, others were made permanently. 

But what about the people who hadn’t yet evacuated because of the pandemic? 

We are interested in the mindsets of individuals who had not relocated by 2020 when a large portion of the population did so. Given the current pandemic, would they be more or less likely to accept the offer to relocate for a job?

Nearly 65% of the 477 people who filled out the survey were open to moving for a new job. Most notably, 30% of people said they would be more likely to relocate for work because of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Millions of people now work from home because of the pandemic, and the available data suggests that many of them will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. 

An additional study conducted in 2020 revealed that 22 percent of Americans relocated or seriously considered doing so during the pandemic.  

With the information at hand, it’s not hard to see that maybe people are more than just open to the concept of transferring; they’re also ready to make the most of their newfound freedom as remote workers. People no longer have to live in or close to expensive metropolitan regions to be close to their workplace, making it possible for them to have more room in their homes at a lower cost.

If given a chance, some people would likely choose to leave the city, which is quite reasonable. Saving on rent or mortgage is a long-term financial boon, and having extra room to spread out is a welcome change of pace, especially for people who have or are about to start families.

Introducing delocation

Although few outside of the tech industry are familiar with the phrase “delocation,” the practice has been common among a select group of organizations for quite some time, especially those based in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Delocation is a practice where an employer helps pay for an employee to relocate to a less expensive area while still giving them the option to work from home. In other words, the business not only lets the worker telecommute but also pays for the worker to relocate to a place with a reduced cost of living. 

This allows the employer to provide a salary commensurate with the worker’s lower cost of living and makes it possible for the worker to afford housing. If enough workers take this step, the company can reduce its payroll costs and save even more money by reducing its office space or relocating to a less expensive area. 

Employees who want more space for less money and employers that wish for less overhead and operating costs can both benefit from decentralization.

Given the current state of employee recruitment and retention, delocalization makes great sense as a strategy. 

In fact, urban centers are also beginning to embrace the delocalization trend. Several mid-sized and smaller communities have capitalized on the growing trend of remote workers being open to, or even prefer, settling in less densely populated, more reasonably priced places. 

Remote workers can be enticed to relocate to these cities by various financial incentives, including money to cover the cost of the move. It’s not hard to understand that not only will the places where more white-collar workers currently reside change drastically in the future, but also the methods by which we recruit and keep them.

The best way to offer delocation

A flat sum payment to employees to help with the costs of their delocations is an option, although it may not be the most appealing one. 

According to the above-mentioned study, a full-service corporate relocation program is 298% more effective in hiring top personnel than a lump sum amount, reimbursement, or no relocation program at all. As a matter of fact, it was 80% more efficient than reimbursement and 22% more popular than a lump sum payment. 

That means it’s important how firms shift their employees around. Companies in the modern economy that provide their employees with a delocation incentive in the form of a comprehensive corporate relocation program stand out from the competition and are more successful at attracting and retaining the best personnel. 

Make sure delocation is covered by your policy if your organization currently has a corporate relocation program.

Key takeaways

COVID-19’s persistent and transforming impacts have made the remote work revolution appear permanent and even preferred by most people. 

With the ability to work remotely, people’s ideas on where they should settle have changed. Having a physical location close to a place of business is no longer as crucial as it once was. 

Many people who work from home do not have to deal with traffic or parking issues, and those who move out of the city often find better housing conditions and lower costs. 

As was previously indicated, corporations also benefited financially from having a remote workforce, with many opting to reduce headcount and/or move to less expensive quarters.

Many people now believe that city life isn’t worth the high cost due to a cultural and attitude shift sparked by the pandemic. 

Consequently, in this more balanced and competitive labor market, the companies that take the most thoughtful approach to structuring their remote and in-person mix, as well as delivering novel incentives like delocation to new and existing employees, will be the ones to succeed. 

The trend toward rural living is likely to persist into the foreseeable future as more and more communities offer financial incentives to attract remote employees and as more jobs continue to be performed remotely. 

Delocation makes sense since it caters to the growing demand for less expensive housing, more open land, and a break from the crowded, urban way of life. Potential employees will be more likely to accept your offer, and current employees may be pleased enough to stay for a longer period of time. 

In addition to the possibility of downsizing office space and saving on overhead costs, your organization will save money on wages for the jobs they decant. 

Ensure that the corporate delocation benefit you provide is comprehensive rather than just a cash payment or refund. Your employees will feel more at ease knowing they are in good hands, and the offer will be received with greater enthusiasm.