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Despite Pandemic, Workers Are More Willing To Relocate Than Ever

Survey finds 80 percent of workers would relocate for work during the pandemic, and there’s a growing interest in relocation post-COVID

Denver, Colo. (April 19, 2021) – Despite worldwide travel bans and ongoing concerns about health and safety risks due to COVID-19, nearly 3 in 5 workers (59 percent) say they are more willing to relocate for work now than they were prior to the pandemic. In fact, 80 percent of workers would relocate during the pandemic, including 31 percent who would relocate internationally, according to a new survey of 1,000 workers in nine global markets by Wakefield Research for Graebel Companies Inc.

Post-pandemic, employee interest in corporate relocations will continue to grow, as workers are ready to pack their bags and explore a new world of opportunities. Eighty-four percent of workers say they would relocate for work when COVID-19 is no longer prevalent throughout the world, and nearly half (46 percent) would be willing to do so internationally.

“This survey tells us that relocating for work is still seen as a smart, beneficial career move for workers around the world,” said Casey Phelps, senior vice president of client services EMEA at Graebel, a leading provider of global talent and workplace mobility solutions for Global 100 and Fortune 500 firms. “It’s proof that the global mobility industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Workers are undeterred and ready to relocate to advance their careers, and companies must be prepared to support their mobile employees.”

To attract world-class talent, companies need to create strong talent mobility offerings and programs that create exceptional experiences for mobile employees. More than half of respondents (55 percent) would prefer their employer handle all the logistics for them and 92 percent say they’d need a financial incentive like a pay raise or promotion, a housing allowance and/or a reimbursement for moving expenses to accept the relocation.

The findings provided important insights for companies into how workers are considering family relocations, given the increased time spent together this past year:

  • Workers who are married or in a relationship are more willing to relocate for work during the pandemic, with 81 percent of coupled workers willing to move, compared to 64 percent of single workers.
  • Children are also a deciding factor. Almost nine in 10 workers with children (89 percent) would be willing to physically relocate for work during the pandemic — significantly more than the 65 percent of their child-free counterparts.
  • Almost half (46 percent) of respondents said they’d only be willing to relocate for less than six months without their family or partner.
  • However, over one-third (36 percent) said they’d be willing to relocate without their family or partner for more than three years, largely due to concerns with how family members will adjust to the relocation.

“These findings reinforce the bright future ahead for the global mobility industry. Now is the time for employers to adjust talent mobility strategies and policies to match mobile employees’ needs, wants and concerns,” said Phelps. “COVID-19 altered just about everything in our world, but one thing remains the same – it’s that workers are still willing and eager to make the move to find new possibilities and experiences through relocation.”

Other survey findings include:

  • Global mobility drivers and concerns: While most workers are motivated primarily by job gains (81 percent), they’d need more than just career advancement to relocate internationally. Workers are driven by having a better lifestyle for their family (49 percent), experiencing a different culture (45 percent) and going to a safer location in terms of COVID-related risks (40 percent). On the flip side, most workers (93 percent) do have some concerns about international relocations — primarily health and safety risks (39 percent), lack of friends or family for social support (39 percent) and language or cultural barriers (38 percent).
  • Back to the office: For now, 88 percent of workers would accept a virtual relocation assignment, but post-pandemic, they are ready to see the world through more than just a screen. Fifty-seven percent would prefer relocating in-person rather than virtually.
  • Boomers want to lead the way in global mobility: Of the four generations surveyed, Boomers are the most willing to move during the pandemic, with 85 percent open to relocating and 40 percent open to moving internationally. They’re also in it for the long-haul. Among Boomers willing to relocate internationally, 61 percent are willing to stay for more than three years.
  • Meet in Europe: Eighty-one percent of respondents chose a European destination as a top-three desired city to relocate to, with London being the most popular (20 percent cited the city in their top-three destinations of choice, followed by Paris (16 percent) and Rome (10 percent). However, the Americas and APAC also are well represented in desired cities, with New York City (20 percent) and Tokyo (17 percent) ranking in respondents’ top-three desired destinations.

Read the official press release

Access full report for all complete survey findings

About the Survey
The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 knowledge workers, ages 18-75 across nine markets: Canada, China (Tier 1 cities), France, Germany, India, the UK, the U.S., Singapore and Switzerland, between February 22nd and March 1st, 2021.

About Graebel
Graebel Companies, Inc. is a leading provider of global talent and workplace mobility solutions for Fortune 500 and Global 1000 firms and their employees in 165 countries. Since its founding in 1950, Graebel has innovated and grown to deliver excellent relocation service and results for clients, all while remaining family-owned and focused on people-first mobility. With custom technology solutions, Graebel develops and implements mobility strategies that help companies attract and retain talent; respond faster to global market trends; maximize return on mobility programs; and create exceptional experiences that make global talent mobility more humane and as seamless as possible. As a full-service relocation management company (RMC), Graebel addresses every part of the mobility lifecycle for employers and employees, including services for departure and move management, destination, settling-in and ongoing assignments. For more information, visit Here’s to the world ahead®.