Almost two-thirds of the UK workforce are considering a professional move overseas, according to new research from global benefits platform, Perkbox.
Research reveals that 62% of UK employees would consider a move abroad to work remotely, and many are trying to make it happen, with more than a quarter (28%) of business leaders reporting an increase in requests for international working. And business leaders are supportive of such a move with research showing three-quarters (75%) trust their people to work productively from anywhere.
Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index backs this up, with organisations in the UK seeing that productivity is not being affected by where their staff work. Less than half (43%) of business leaders said productivity had been negatively impacted since the move to remote, 11 percentage points lower than the global average, and much lower than the 84% recorded in China, 62% in India and 52% in France.
UK employers increasing switch to remote-first policy
As a result, an ever-increasing number of employers are giving employees more say in deciding how and where they work, and even the chance to work completely remotely, as they wake up to the realisation that remote working has many benefits, from improved productivity and happier employees to less spend on overheads, not to mention attracting and retaining top talent – the latter crucial in the current war on talent.
Big Four firms Deloitte and PwC UK announced last year that its staff could work remotely. PwC said its employees could work remotely for up to eight weeks, allowing them to take extended overseas trips, while Deloitte UK says its workers can choose how often and when they come into the office, if at all. Banks and financial institutions have also switched, or are switching, to remote-first working, including JP Morgan and HSBC.
Technology companies too have switched to remote-first working, making it possible for employees who can work completely remotely to be able to do so permanently, including Twitter, Square, Coinbase, Meta, and Shopify.
Employers offer benefit of remote working to retain and attract top talent
This comes as the great resignation, which began as a US phenomenon, continues to build in the UK and employers face the tightest market in at least 50 years.
Employers with staff working completely remotely are three times more likely to report having found it easier than usual to hire new employees over the past year, compared to office-based, according to HR software provider CIPHR’s recent survey of British employers.
Offering employees a perk of remote working, including working overseas, is now beyond a nice-to-have, says Gautam Sahgal, CEO, Perkbox.
It’s encouraging news as the UK rethinks how to be competitive on the global stage, as organisations will be able to attract the best talent from the hyper-competitive job market with this progressive thinking, or retain talent.
According to Matt Macri-Waller, Benefex founder and CEO, the pandemic has forever changed our priorities and our relationships with work, and the landscape for employee experience is shifting. “With job vacancies and staff attrition at record highs, it’s never been more important for all organisations to re-examine how they engage with employees and how they deliver their employee experiences.”
Business leaders must create consistent employee experience, whatever the location
That said, there are challenges with such a scenario, as highlighted by the Perkbox research – more than half (57%) of employees surveyed say they would expect colleagues to work the same hours as them, no matter the location, a third (34%) would expect their employer to pay lower salaries to colleagues based in countries with lower costs of living, and nearly half (48%) would pay closer attention to fully remote colleagues, to ensure they are remaining productive.
It is essential therefore that HR and business leaders set expectations and create a consistent employee experience, no matter the worker’s location.
"A unifying culture across borders will help employees build stronger relationships with their teams and managers," says Gautam. "This type of model is only going to become more mainstream, so the challenge and opportunity for HR teams lies in creating an environment where everyone feels part of a shared purpose or goal, whilst still having their individual requirements acknowledged and catered to."
Perkbox is urging employers to ensure equal access is available – regardless of location – to the same guidance, benefits and rewards. This will ensure employees feel equally informed, supported and appreciated wherever they are – creating confidence in the experience they can expect from employers in all circumstances.
“It's also crucial to empower managers to reward and recognise team members in any country, even if they're the only team member based in a certain location, so that all can feel equally seen and connected to their organisation whilst enabling values to be upheld globally. And employers shouldn't forget the power of employees feeling seen and heard by fellow employees either. Enabling peer-to-peer recognition will help strengthen culture and mitigate tensions that may arise from remote working."
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