'New work' becomes the norm for expats

An insight into the way the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the working lives of expatriates across the world has been revealed in a global survey published on Tuesday.

The report, 'The Future of Working Abroad', is based on data from more than 8,000 working expats living in 175 destinations across the world. It has been compiled by InterNations, the global expat community with more than four million members.For the first time, InterNations - whose annual global rankings of the best countries for expats were published in the spring - surveyed the attitudes towards 'New Work': the pandemic-induced switch to home and hybrid working in the digital age. The ten countries where expats rated the importance of New Work most highly were the US, the UAE, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands, Bahrain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Sweden. In the US alone, 74 per cent of working expats reported New Work now played an important role in the local business culture.By contrast, respondents rated New Work as least relevant in Japan (last out of the 55 nations ranked), Egypt, South Korea, Turkey, India, Kuwait, Italy, Spain, France, and China. For example, 40 per cent of expats in Japan said that New Work was not important in their business world, compared to a global average of only 18 per cent.A fifth of respondents reported working remotely had only been introduced since the arrival of the pandemic while another 28 per cent said that remote opportunities had increased since Covid-19 had struck.Almost four-fifths of expats (78 per cent) said they were now able to work remotely, although 16 per cent of these said they chose not to. Another 16 per cent were unable to work remotely because of the nature of their jobs, and only six per cent said they were prohibited from doing so by their employers.When asked what they liked best about their current jobs, expats most frequently mentioned the opportunity to work remotely or from home (32 per cent), a good work-life balance (32 per cent), and flexible working hours (29 per cent).Malte Zeeck, InterNations founder and joint CEO, said: “What working expats enjoy about the job they have is not necessarily what they envision for their future career."Businesses all around the world will have to offer more within the context of New Work, such as room for creativity. But this is not everything expats ask for - despite a growing desire for self-fulfillment and personal development, hard factors such as a good salary remain extremely important for expats in a business context.”In fact, 47 per cent of the working expats in the survey named their careers as the most important reason for relocating to another country. Of these, 17 per cent had found a job on their own, 15 per cent were recruited internationally, while only 13 per cent were sent by their employers and only two per cent had moved abroad to start their own businesses.The average age of respondents was 43.1 years old, and the gender ratio was fairly even split between males (53 per cent) and females (46 per cent)..InterNations reported: "Overall, they are well educated, with four in five working expats either holding a postgraduate degree or master’s degree (47 per cent) or a bachelor’s degree (33 per cent)."Another eight per cent have a PhD, followed by one in twenty with qualifications from commercial/technical/vocational training."Some 30 per cent were currently occupying a senior or specialist position, followed by 17 per cent in lower or middle management. About 13 per cent were top executives.The most common fields of expat work were in education (12 per cent), IT (11 per cent) and finance (8 per cent). Other frequently mentioned fields of work, said InterNations, were manufacturing and engineering, healthcare, and advertising, marketing and communications.About a third of the expats had gross annual incomes in the $50,000-100,000 range, although 44 per cent said they made less than $50,000 and 23 per cent reported earning more than $100,000.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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