Topia, the leader in Global Talent Mobility, today released its 2022 study, “Adapt to work everywhere,” which finds that office workers overwhelmingly demand flexible work arrangements—and will change jobs to get them. Since last year’s study, remote work has evolved from a semi-temporary COVID-19 safety measure to a norm and expectation. While most HR professionals recognize the benefits of remote work, the data suggests that tax and immigration compliance remain a greater risk than they realize.
The third annual Adapt study explores attitudes towards remote work, the drivers of an exceptional employee experience, and the value of mobility. Conducted by CITE Research on behalf of Topia, the study surveyed 1,481 full-time office workers between December 22, 2021, and January 11, 2022. The participants, all employed by international firms, were evenly split between the United States and the United Kingdom and included 299 HR professionals.
The 2022 study focuses on “flexible work arrangements,” a term encompassing any work performed outside the traditional office environment. This includes remote work from home, across the state and country borders, and on business or leisure trips. It happens everywhere from coffee shops and coworking spaces to vacation rentals and hotels. Key findings of the 2022 Adapt study include the following:
- Failure to allow flexible work arrangements is driving the Great Resignation
29% of respondents changed jobs in 2021, and 34% are planning to resign in 2022. Lack of flexibility is a major factor, and many employees are disappointed with their organization’s remote work policies.
- 41% of employees say flexibility to work from home is or was a reason to change jobs. 35% also cited more flexibility to work remotely as a reason to find a new employer.
- 64% of those forced to return to the office full-time say this makes them more likely to look for a new job.
- Although 82% of employers have a remote work policy, 48% of employees feel that mobility policies are in place just to make remote work applications easier to reject.
- When choosing an employer, flexibility is a top priority
Despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the US and UK, there is little interest in returning to the office full-time. Public health, originally the impetus for remote work, is no longer relevant. The freedom, technology, and autonomy to work from anywhere is central to the ideal employee experience.
- Asked what they look for in a new employer, respondents rank flexible work arrangements as the third most important attribute—after high pay and a focus on employee wellbeing but above great culture, professional development opportunities, social impact, and autonomy.
- 96% of employees feel that flexibility in working arrangements is important when seeking a new job.
- 56% of respondents say the flexibility to work in whatever location they want defines an “exceptional employee experience.” This tied with having the right technology to work efficiently and came second to being empowered and trusted to do their job with little supervision.
- For most organizations, flexible work remains an unsolved compliance challenge
In 2021, 60% of HR professionals were confident they knew where most of their employees were located. That number fell to 46% in 2022. HR still has a blind spot in determining where employees are working and for how long. The resulting tax and immigration compliance risks are significant.
- 40% of HR professionals discovered employees working from outside their home state or country.
- 66% of employees admit to not reporting all the days they work outside their home state or country.
- Nevertheless, 90% of HR professionals are confident that employees will self-report such days.
Employees don’t appear to break HR’s location reporting rules intentionally. Rather, the reporting process is easy to forget, cumbersome, or unknown. 91% of employees say they are comfortable with their employer tracking their location at the city level. That is enough granularity for HR and finance departments to ensure tax and immigration compliance worldwide.
“It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and our Adapt study suggests that if companies say no to flexible work arrangements, they will lose talented people and struggle to replace them,” said Steve Black, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Topia. “To provide an exceptional employee experience, organizations need technology that welcomes employees to explore, request, and pursue remote work opportunities. The back-end compliance needs to be automated and accommodating of employees who change locations frequently.”