The study shows that the pandemic has had a major impact on people’s attitudes toward work abroad, reducing their interest generally and inclining them toward countries that have done the best job of containing the coronavirus.
The report titled Decoding Global Talent, Onsite and Virtual is the third core publication based on BCG and The Network’s ongoing research into worker mobility and worker preferences.
Only about 50% of people are willing to move to another country for work, according to this year’s survey, which included almost 209,000 participants in 190 countries. That’s down from a 64% willingness level in 2014 and 57% in 2018. The lower willingness to relocate was expressed by respondents in nearly every country in the world.
While there is less willingness now to pull up stakes and move to a foreign country, the survey shows a high level of enthusiasm for the model of staying in one’s home country while working for a foreign employer. Fifty-seven percent of people say they are willing to do this, and when remote international work is the question, the US switches places with Canada and is again number one.
The overall openness to virtual work is especially high among people in the information technology and digital fields. Seventy-one percent of people with digital or analytics backgrounds said they would be willing to work for a company with no physical presence in their own country. So did 67% of people with IT and technology backgrounds. Among people with master’s degrees or above, the willingness quotient was likewise high: about 62%.
“Restrictive immigration policies have already weakened the mobility trend,” said Rainer Strack, one of the authors of the study and a senior partner at BCG. “COVID is a new variable that is making people cautious about considering international relocation. And with the rise of remote working, many may feel that they can further their careers virtually, without needing to move at all.”
“Hiring people from other countries is not a new practice for employers,” said Pierre Antebi, a co–managing director of The Network and one of the report’s authors. “But the trend of remote working makes it possible to do it on a broader scale and expand the available talent pool. There’s also an upside for workers, who can advance their careers without uprooting their lives.”