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Global Mobility and Remote Working are a Boost to the Relocation Services Sector

Published on: 6/23/2022

The economic trend which has become known as the “Great Resignation” or the “Great Reshuffle” has developed further into 2022 as many employees have begun to explore new career options and move into more fulfilling roles with higher salaries or a better work-life balance. A key driver in resignations has been flexibility around remote work, and it seems that many employers are responding to this demand: according to ONS research from last year, online job adverts mentioning remote work tripled during the pandemic, increasing at a faster rate than the total number of vacancies being posted.

During the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees were forced to work from different locations due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, and many businesses have continued to offer at least some flexibility on working locations ever since. Research from Plimsoll conducted in 2021 found that half of those companies surveyed were planning to offer a greater level of flexible work opportunities beyond the pandemic restrictions.

However as restrictions are scaled back in most countries, workers are now increasingly looking to move further afield, either as part of temporary postings or as a more permanent career shift. One industry hoping to benefit from this trend is the relocation services sector. A recent analysis by Plimsoll has found that 55 UK companies operating in this industry have been given a rating of “strong”, and across the sector, profits sit at an average of 3.4%, a significant increase from the previous year.

While the increase in remote working may be fueling this growth, other areas of the job market are undoubtedly having an impact. For example, the worker shortage has pushed many companies recruiting office-based or hybrid roles to look further afield for the best candidates. This may involve recruiting from across long distances and potentially from abroad, meaning specialist help may be required for both companies and new employees making the move.

Similarly, whether recruiting remote or office-based positions, these changes have also given rise to a need for compliance services. While “work from anywhere” approaches are attractive to potential candidates, they require proper management in order to stay on the right side of country-specific employment regulations, including rules surrounding work permits, salaries and tax. While numerous relocation service providers are already addressing these needs with their own digital relocation management platforms, the remote working phenomenon has also created space in the market for several specialist software providers to manage staff based anywhere in the world. The most innovative companies may turn into the industry leaders in the near future: Plimsoll’s analysis identified 9 companies that are up-and-coming threats in the market.

Relocation specialists are not only facing demand from remote workers, however. While much discussed, homeworking is mainly prevalent in the information and communication services sectors – most hospitality and manufacturing jobs are still predominantly tied to specific locations. But these areas may be facing their own employment issues, especially in the UK where a skills shortage tied to Brexit means that visas may need to be introduced to attract workers into these industries. Relocation companies offering visa management services both into and out of the UK are likely to see increased activity covering these areas in the months to come as a result of tighter immigration rules between the UK and EU.

Across Europe, there have also been significant increases in remote working, with the largest proportion of home workers in northern European regions such as Scandinavia. However, despite nations such as Germany and Italy mirroring the increases seen in the UK, other areas such as France have returned to offices in much greater numbers; IFOP research from earlier this year found that only 34% of French workers surveyed are regularly working remotely compared to much higher figures in other Western European countries.

Analysis by Plimsoll covering the removals and relocation sector across Europe found that 152 companies qualified for a financial health rating of “strong”, whereas 69 were rated “danger” and could exit the market in the months to come.

Overall, the relocation services industry must be sure to address the needs that have been created as a result of the increase in remote working and keep a close eye on financial trends in the sector in order to make the most of any opportunities. Those who can identify gaps in the market for specific services created as a result of the cultural shift in working are likely to be the ones to find the most success. For industry leaders, growth is likely to continue in the near future as current trends in global mobility show no sign of slowing.

Plimsoll’s detailed analysis of the Relocation Services sector allows business leaders to monitor important changes and spot opportunities for growth. For more information, click here.