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. Now, millions of professionals are wondering how they’ll cope with a return to the office. 

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 surveyed around 2,430 job applicants across the Middle East from mid-March to mid-May to understand how work and lifestyle expectations are changing in the new normal. 

What do Middle East Job Applicants feel about Remote Working and Relocation?

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. 81% 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 49% 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 clear majority (64%) agreed that it would positively impact salaries. Of these respondents, 34% predicted that home workers would receive targeted benefits like reimbursements of electricity and internet bills, home office equipment, etc. The other 40% saw the glass as half empty, highlighting perks and benefits home workers would lose, such as the reduction in allowances such as meals, car parking allowances and even lesser number of company events.

And has the COVID crisis made temporary and interim jobs more popular with job seekers in the Middle East? Our survey data reveals that 64% of job applicants will not consider applying for short-term positions. 90% of candidates are still interested in applying for only permanent positions. 

A workforce on the move

How does an increase in flexible working opportunities align with relocation rates? Nearly 19% of respondents said they had relocated since the start of the pandemic. Almost 48% claimed they were thinking about relocating — 11% planning to relocate within the next 12 months. That compares with 33% 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? 55% of respondents who had considered relocation said they were looking to live and work in more economically dynamic area, while 45% said they would relocate for an improved quality of life (e.g. access to better healthcare, community spaces, etc.). 33% said they would relocate to benefit from reduced living costs.  

As for reasons on why some job applicants are not considering relocating out of the Middle East, 49% claimed they are satisfied with the quality of life where they currently live and 45% said they want to stay close to their family and friends. 

A similarly complex picture of post-COVID aspirations emerged when we asked respondents how relocation would change their employment conditions. 38% said they would only relocate for an equivalent role. 37% who would look for a job in a different industry whilst 33% would look for a different role within the same industry. Others weren’t looking for a promotion or even a new job, including 20% who would be prepared to reenter education or long-term training and 16% who would start their own company. 

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. 

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