When the pandemic struck in early 2020, organisations and professionals wondered how their business would react to working from home. Fast forward to mid-2021, and it’s a different story. It is fair to say that remote working has proved to be successful in terms of motivation, productivity, and job satisfaction. 

But a note of caution before we label this the “remote work revolution”. Not everyone wants to work from home, and many organizations believe in the merits of office culture and other shared workplaces - they foster in-person collaboration and strong team morale. Plenty of professionals are happy where they are, while those who think about or plan to relocate have diverse reasons for doing so. 

To dig deeper, Michael Page surveyed around 1,017 job seekers across Africa from mid-March to mid-May to understand how work and lifestyle expectations are changing in the new normal. 

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. 79% of candidates in Africa who took our survey believed they could fulfill their tasks or responsibilities remotely, either full time or part time. 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. But 40% also responded they did not see any difference in the number of remote-based roles advertised. 

Questioned as to whether remote work would impact salaries and benefits, a clear majority (66%) agreed that it would. Of these respondents, 38% predicted that home-based professionals would receive targeted benefits like reimbursement of electricity payments and WiFi bills for instance. The other 36% saw the glass as half empty, highlighting perks and benefits home workers would lose, such as lunch allowances and parking allowances.

With many industries being disrupted and job functions evolving, we also asked candidates how they view temp or interim roles. 73% of candidates said they still would not consider applying for interim and temporary positions. 9 out of 10 respondents prefer only applying for permanent roles. 

A workforce on the move

How does the explosion in flexible working opportunities align with relocation rates? Nearly 11% of respondents said they had relocated since the start of the pandemic. Almost 53% claimed they were planning a move — 12% within the next 12 months and 41% sometime in the future. That compares with 36% who said they had no intention of leaving their current location.

Does more flexible working mean more relocation? The survey suggests that is too simplistic. People do not only consider relocation because technology allows them to. Perhaps the experience of COVID has made them reevaluate their lifestyle priorities? 59% of respondents who had considered relocation said they were looking to work in a place with more economic opportunities, 37% were keen to relocate for a better quality of life and 22% think relocation will help them reduce their cost of living.  

A similarly complex picture of post-COVID aspirations emerged when we asked respondents how relocation would change their employment conditions. 43% said they would look for a job in a different industry, 33% would look for a different role in the same industry, while 31% would relocate only for an equivalent role. Nearly 66% of those polled said relocation would boost their salaries. Others were not looking for a promotion or even a new job, including 28% who would be prepared to reenter education or long-term training and 20% who would start their own company. 

According to our survey, those respondents who are not considering a relocation prefer to continue living and working where they are because they prefer to live closer to their family and friends and overall are satisfied with their living environment. 

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 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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