How the Covid Pandemic Affects German Work Life and Working Abroad

How the Covid Pandemic Affects German Work Life and Working Abroad


What Is the World of Work Like in Germany During the Covid Pandemic?


The Covid crisis has had a large impact on our work life in general. In fact, across the globe, we have observed the emergence of one megatrend: the digital transformation of work.


Yet Germany is a country where data protection has a high value and the process of digital transformation is not yet as advanced as it is in other countries.


During the crisis, we acknowledged various problems, the majority arising from the public and health sectors. Germany was not able to react quickly to the rapidly increasing amount of positive cases as we currently lack a solid digital public health system; the German health departments still work with analogue technologies like telefax and Excel lists, for example. 


The crisis has begun, and will continue to, encourage digital transformation in all businesses across the nation: demanding their adaptation to remote work and virtual collaboration/communication. The virus compels German companies, even those that could be considered rather "old-fashioned", to find new or hybrid ways of working together.



Working Abroad Is Temporarily Less Attractive for Germans


The impact of the pandemic, in which everybody is facing their own loads, uncertainties, and fears, also affects global mobility and willingness to work abroad. People tend to stay in a familiar environment when facing a crisis and not take additional risks like changing their work or social environment. This trend was made particularly clear by Corona: while in 2014 63,8% of people were willing to move abroad, this reduced to 50,4% in 2020


The proportion of people in Germany who envision themselves working abroad has declined by 10% since the last survey, although this indicates that still just below half of the interviewed could imagine relocating for work, so perhaps things will pick up again in the future. In fact, career coach Susan Hoentszch notes a rising wanderlust among many Germans who cannot wait for the pandemic to be over.  


The top target countries where Germans would like to work are Switzerland, Austria, the USA, and Canada. There are five neighbouring countries in the top 10 list, so there is not always a desire to go far.  



Global Business Mobility and the Covid Effect


We can distinguish the following types of global mobility:


  • Business travel

  • Short-term assignments

  • Long-term assignments

  • Permanent relocations

  • Virtual assignments


Most of them decreased since the pandemic: especially business travel, short-term assignments and permanent relocation.


Naturally, there has been a massive increase in virtual meetings, remote, and hybrid work since Covid crisis started. During the pandemic, many companies and individuals gained great experience with virtual collaboration tools.


 "Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they are willing to work remotely for an employer that doesn’t have a physical presence in their home country, a level that is well above the proportion who are open to physical relocation." (Decoding Global Talent, Onsite and Virtual, page 9).


We still don't know when the Covid crisis will be over and what the long-term effects of it will be. Yet digital transformation and virtual mobility are trends that will no doubt continue to gain popularity in the next few years. It is not always necessary to move physically to another country as many jobs - especially IT and digital jobs - can be done fully remotely.



Virtual Mobility is a New Way of Mobility


Virtual mobility has a lot of advantages for companies as they can attract more talent from across the globe. Many companies like Microsoft, Tata Consulting, GitLab and Facebook are already working with international global teams.


Even if remote work is a model that gives companies a much wider access to recruit global talent, there are also challenges to face like different time zones, labour laws, and salary strategies as well as data protection laws and cultural differences.



What Competitive Advantages Do German Candidates Have in a Global Comparison?


Germany is known for its strong educational system and well-educated employees, e.g. Engineers, Health Care Workers, etc.


Besides the general German work culture characterised by precision, diligence, and punctuality, German language skills are also a plus when thinking about moving abroad or working remotely for a company in another country.


Professions that are in great demand abroad are IT Experts, Health Professionals (e.g. Doctors & Nurses), Engineers and Construction Managers as well as workers in the Tourism industry.



What to Do If You Are Considering Work Abroad or Signing a Remote Contract?


If you have the chance to move abroad with your current employer, ensure that it is a long-term opportunity (if that is what you are searching for). Expats are sometimes needed for short-term assignments and do not make it into consideration for career progression in the eyes of the HR Department.


Whether the task is physical or virtual, there is always a process of adaptation to the new work environment and other cultural norms. Be aware that it takes time for you to get used to new surroundings and you will require about 4-6 weeks minimum to settle into a new job.


Bear in mind remote work is not everybody's cup of tea and some personalities fit it better than others. However, there are some remote work skills you can develop and if you are not sure this type of work suits you, you could think about taking a personal assessment or some career coaching to clarify it.


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Author's bio: Roedel Recruitment Agency specialises in career coaching for expats and international talent. Call on us if you are looking for guidance with your career change.


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