The online news magazine of Atlas® World Group.
April 15, 2021

54th Annual Atlas Corporate Relocation Survey

  • Corporate Relocation

COVID-19 "Pause" & Effect
Atlas' annual Corporate Relocation Survey (now in its 54th year) captures a fascinating look into the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the world of relocation. Invited via email, 420 decision-makers completed an online questionnaire between January 14 and March 1, 2021. Each respondent has responsibility for relocation and is employed by a company that has either relocated employees during the past two years or plans to relocate employees this year.
For analysis, firms are categorized by size:
  Fewer than 500 salaried
employees (32%)
500-4,999 salaried
employees (35%)
5,000+ salaried
employees (34%)
  More than half work in firms that relocate employees internationally.
2020 was a challenging year for the relocation industry; 1 out of 3 firms responding say relocation volumes decreased overall. Among firms relocating employees internationally, nearly 40% saw decreases in international volumes last year. While almost half of respondents saw budgets increase in 2020, this was by necessity as companies responded to the additional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 2 out of 3 companies say the COVID-19 pandemic was the external factor that had the most significant impact on relocations last year. Even with the challenges of 2020, the outlook for 2021 is optimistic. Around half of firms responding expect increases in both overall and international relocation volumes, as well as in relocation budgets.

6 out of 10 respondents say they had employees decline relocations in 2020; around 1 in 3 say the number refusing relocation increased over the previous year. The reason for declining relocation was most often health concerns/illness/the COVID-19 pandemic both overall (52%) and internationally (44%).

Even though 1 out of 3 companies say their companies' financial performance worsened in 2020, and 1 out of 2 say the US economy worsened, half or more expect 2021 to be better on both fronts.

In 2020, around 1 out of 2 companies say the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Increased the complexity of relocation administration
• Increased relocation costs
• Increased relocation policy changes
• Increased the difficulty of recruiting employees to relocate
Additionally, nearly 4 out of 10 say it reduced the number of relocations performed last year.

In 2021, while more than a third of firms believe the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will remain the same as in 2020, more than 40% of firms believe the impact will be:
• Increased relocations
• Increased complexity of relocation administration
• Increased relocation costs
• Increased relocation policy changes
• Increased difficulty of recruiting employees to relocate

9 out of 10 firms responding made changes to relocation policy/programs due to COVID-19 last year. The most frequent changes were:

9 out of 10 firms responding anticipate having to make additional changes to relocation policy/programs due to COVID-19 in 2021. The most anticipated changes are:

9 out of 10 firms asked relocation providers to perform additional services due to COVID-19. The most frequent requests were:

While the world pressed pause in 2020, companies juggled safety needs and the economic pressures of the pandemic to keep business going, even if the physical movement of talent slowed markedly. Although the world of work is projected to look different post-COVID, moving talent to the right places continues to be a priority. Companies indicate a readiness to be flexible, but persistent, in keeping their employees connected and working together. Creative arrangements and timetables for relocation continue, but the view for 2021 is a working world ready to get moving.