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With Rise in Remote Work, Millions of US Workers Planning to Relocate

Eric House - Jan 19 2021
Published in: Mobility
Research shows that the availability of remote work has caused many U.S. workers to consider relocation.

Work marketplace Upwork’s survey from last autumn received data from American recipients, revealing that between 14-23 million households intend to move, citing the growing acceptance of remote work across the country. When combined with data from those who are moving regardless of remote work, the survey found that near-term migration rates may be three to four times what they normally are.

Remote Work Remains a Key Reason for Relocation

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, little among us could have predicted the impact it would have on the way we work. Organizations around the country, and the world, shifted to the remote work setting as a means of keeping employees safe while maintaining business continuity. With this came increased flexibility to not only work from home, but work from anywhere. Upwork’s survey confirms that due to the growing availability of remote work, between 6.9% and 11.5% of households are planning to relocate.

Of those who are planning to relocate, 6.5% are moving to a different area because of the greater ability to work from home. But the survey found that this group isn’t necessarily limited to those in current remote situations; 2.5% are moving because someone else in the household can work remotely, while another 2.5% are moving due to greater remote work job prospects.

Where are Workers Going?

The survey found that over half (54.7%) of respondents are moving two hours or more away from their current location, beyond their daily or weekly commuting distances. Perhaps expectedly, major cities are seeing the biggest migration, with workers choosing to move to more affordable cities. The survey found that more than half (52.5%) are moving to a more affordable home. Additionally, 20.6% of those planning to move are based in a major city, which typically are more expensive to live in.

According to United Van Lines’ annual National Migration Study, 2020 saw Americans continue to move west and south, with the COVID-19 pandemic a major factor in their decision. The study found that Idaho had the highest percentage of inbound migration (70%), while for the third year in a row, New Jersey had the highest percentage of outbound moves (70%). The survey also found that 40% of Americans who moved did so because of a new job or a transfer.

Mobility’s Strategic Importance in the Future of Relocation

As more workers go remote and more people decide to relocate because of this, mobility professionals will continue their strategic importance in navigating the complexities that come with this new normal. Top of mind will likely continue to be tax and compliance, with mobility professionals being the go-to experts for how to handle any and all tax issues no matter where the employer and employee are located. Additionally, mobility professionals will navigate recruitment with remote work a key consideration, while understanding the need for employee flexibility and digital solutions fit for a remote setting. With these factors in mind, one thing is clear: workforce mobility is where work is going.

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What does the future of remote work have in store? Worldwide ERC® Research partnered with Deloitte to find out, and we want to hear from you. Participate in our quick, 10-minute survey to let us know what you think. Let's get started!