How are you handling employee relocation in this remote working post-COVID world?

Mary Cay KostenMary Cay Kosten SVP Services OperationsFounding Member | Scholar ✭✭

As we start planning for a 'post-COVID world', we are thinking about a more flexible work environment for our team members on a permanent basis. We will be expanding our remote work programs and making them available to more of our team members/roles. Does your company restrict a remote working team member from relocating out of the area that they were hired or require them to stay within a x mile radius of an office?


  • Alexander ZieglerAlexander Ziegler Program Director, Business Development for Training & Skills Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭

    I have been working in various companies over the last 25 years, and I was lucky to be part of people starting to work remotely very early. I was even 25 years ago working 1-2 days from home, and since then have been in management roles with all kinds of remote and local and mixed teams, primarily in EMEA, but also the US. In general there are certain country rules accross the world that officially need to get respected, that means in most countries an employee has a subsidary where he belongs to and should usually live somewhere around (even the "somewhere around" is defined in certain countries). And usually people should live at least in the country where they work. So, you have to repspect the laws that exist. On the other hand I have seen and lived with the practical implementation: In all companies where I worked the management team was fully flexible and accepted everything that makes sense for the company and teh employee. So, yes, I have seen people relocating accross Europe and the US, I have seen people 1st relocating and then officially moving job location once this made sense for the company and the employee. There is a big advantage of the flexibility without limits, as this really motivates some employees. Are there challenges? Yes: people need to know that if they're far away from an office certain jobs will not work, certain visibility will drop, some people will be jelous - but as a company it can help you to keep great talent. The key is that everybody knows that there are pros + cons. IBM experienced that for some people it makes sense to be located in a certain city to meet locally, and there are other roles where IBM experienced that remote workign is the right thing. But of course people who suddenly move to remote locations can't take the roles that require to be locally in a certain city.

    My personal summary: For some roles full flexibility and remote living and working makes sense, for some roles it is not perfect. I would recommend thinking of and approach based on "roles" - and then decide how you want to go. You can definitely keep great talent by offering 100% flexibility, but it also comes with challenges. And do not forget to implement "exceptions" - so that you stay flexible.

  • Mary Cay KostenMary Cay Kosten SVP Services Operations Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭

    Thank you Alexander for your thoughtful response. That is what we are working through. How do you give the flexibility and manage the exceptions. Keeping in mind trying to be consistent in our practices in a large organization.

  • Jerome PeckJerome Peck Sr. Product Marketing Manager TSIA Administrator | admin

    @Lori Hurley and @John Andrews—Any thoughts or insights on this topic of team member relocation during these times of remote working?

  • Lori HurleyLori Hurley Sr. Director of Strategic Planning and Operations Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭

    @Jerome Peck Yes, Mary Cay and I are really interested in how other companies might be dealing with these requests as we at Dell expand our remote worker population on a permanent basis.

    Thank you

  • Steven ForthSteven Forth Managing Partner Founding Partner | Expert ✭✭✭

    We have no such limitations. One thing we are struggling with is the number of people who will work from home full time going forward and who need to move into a larger home as both adults and children now need more or less full time online access. My daughter also has this challenge at her home. We are planning to subsidize these moves in some way but have not yet worked out a coherent policy that is fair to everyone.

  • John AndrewsJohn Andrews Global SVP, Service Offer Design & Development Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭

    Like many organisation, NTT Ltd. is also evaluating role locations as we continue to learn more about the impacts and implications of Covid-19 on working practices and performance. Without doubt, there is evidence to suggest that employees can be more productive when working remotely. But this needs to be tempered with similar evidence that employees are 'over-working', and not taking the time to relax and recharge. Therefore, any revision to location policies for roles will need to carefully balance these two observations. That said, without doubt, we will be introducing a different operating model for home / office working for some roles over the course of the next months. The extent of which will only be seen later this year.

  • Steven ForthSteven Forth Managing Partner Founding Partner | Expert ✭✭✭

    @John Andrews Have you developed any policies and best practices on how to ensure that people are over working? I am concerned about this for my own people.

  • Thomas LahThomas Lah Executive Director & EVP Member | Guru ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Mary Cay Kosten we did a rapid research response poll on this topic of "very virtual" organizations:

    42% of respondents say they are letting employees relocate from their current location.

    69% of the respondents say if an employee relocates there is NO requirement that they need to be close to company office.

    The policies related to remote workers are changing quickly!

  • Mary Cay KostenMary Cay Kosten SVP Services Operations Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭

    @Thomas Lah Great info! Thank you.

  • John AndrewsJohn Andrews Global SVP, Service Offer Design & Development Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭

    @Steven Forth Our HR team are busily reviewing the situation and will create policies from what we've learnt over the last few months. At a tactical level, I find what works reasonably well is a heightened focus on making sure that team members are actually taking leave/PTO, especially when there's no opportunity to go anywhere! Holding one-to-ones with team members more regularly than usual can also provide a chance to proactively get a sense as to how an employee is coping. Encouraging employees to 'ring fence' an hour in their day to take a break, much like booking a meeting in the calendar, can work too. Hope this helps.

  • Steven ForthSteven Forth Managing Partner Founding Partner | Expert ✭✭✭

    Yes, thank you @John Andrews. We are doing much of this but not the ring fencing. I would like to try that and will talk to my leadership team about it in the coming week. I was planning to take Wednesday to Friday off last week and travel locally, but a cluster in the area we were planning to travel to led us to cancel our plans. I used to joke that I wanted to spend a year waking up in my own bed and walking down to the beach to take a photo of the water every morning. Be careful about what you wish for!

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