When the pandemic struck in early 2020, millions of professionals wondered how they’d cope working from home. Fast forward to mid-2021, and it’s a different story. 

Before we label this the “remote work revolution,” a note of caution. Not everyone wants to work from home, and many organizations believe in offices and other shared workplaces, believing that they foster in-person collaboration and strong team morale. Likewise, the dream of relocating to some scenic locale with a laptop and an internet connection is just one aspiration among many. Plenty of professionals are happy where they are, while those who plan to relocate have diverse reasons for doing so. 

To dig deeper, Michael Page Middle East surveyed around 425 job seekers in the UAE from mid-March to mid-May to understand how work and lifestyle expectations are changing in the new normal. 

How do trends in remote working in the UAE align with the intent to relocate?

Remote working: a successful experiment?

If a professional’s ability to relocate depends on their ability to work remotely, our survey has good news for anyone contemplating a move. More than 8 out of 10 of the Michael Page candidates polled believed they could fulfill their tasks or responsibilities remotely. For their part, it seems that employers are increasingly comfortable working with dispersed teams, with 50% of respondents reporting a spike in the number of roles advertised with remote work as part of the package. 

Questioned as to whether remote work would impact salaries and benefits, a majority (41%) felt they did not see a connection between benefits, salaries, and remote work. 32% respondents predicted that home workers would receive more targeted benefits like internet supplier and electricity subsidies. The other 27% saw the glass as half empty, highlighting perks and benefits home workers would lose, such as lunch allowances and company cars.

A workforce on the move

How does the explosion in flexible working opportunities align with relocation rates? Nearly 21% of respondents said they had relocated since the start of the pandemic. Almost 10% claimed they were planning a move — within the next 12 months and 39% sometime in the future. That compares with 30% who said they had no intention of leaving their current location.

Does more flexible working mean more relocation? The survey suggests that’s too simplistic. People don’t only consider relocation because technology allows them to. Perhaps the experience of COVID has made them reevaluate their lifestyle priorities? 

Most respondents (47%) said they are considering a relocation to work and live in a more economically dynamic area. 43% want to relocate to reduce their living costs. 37% shared they would relocate to improve their quality of life (e.g. improved access to healthcare, community spaces, etc.). 30% would like to be closer to family and loved ones.

A similarly complex picture of post-COVID aspirations emerged when we asked respondents how relocation would change their employment conditions. 43% of those polled said they would look for a job in a different industry. Comparatively, 30% said they would relocate and look for a job in the same industry. Only 29% said they would only relocate for an equivalent role. Nearly 61% said relocation would boost their salaries. Others weren’t looking for a promotion or even a new job, including 20% who said they would start their own company and 18% who would be prepared to reenter education or long-term training. 

In a year, we should have a better idea of whether relocation aspirations are a short-term reaction to the stresses of COVID or a long-term consequence of the remote working boom. In the meantime, this survey suggests that quality of life and career development considerations drive relocation just as much as flexible working practices do.

If you would like to talk to one of our expert consultants about how Michael Page Middle East can help you find the right talent for your organization, or to talk about the results of our latest survey, get in touch today, here

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