NEW YORK, July 14 (Reuters) – At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaleesa Garland, marketing director of an e-commerce startup, had the opportunity to relocate from the San Francisco Bay Area to Tulsa , Oklahoma – a city previously not on its radar.
It was a tempting offer: $ 10,000 in relocation assistance and community development opportunities provided by a recruiting initiative called Tulsa Remote. When the pandemic hit, his company got rid of its San Francisco office and allowed employees to work from anywhere. Garland moved to the south-central US city with a population of approximately 400,000 in October 2020.
“The pandemic has been fundamental to many moving decisions,” Garland said. “I couldn’t afford the bay area rent, the electricity – all of those things add up. I have so much more leeway here in Tulsa.”
About 30% of remote workers plan to relocate, according to two recent surveys: an April survey of 1,000 technicians by the nonprofit One America Works and a June survey of 1,006 domestic remote workers for MakeMyMove, focused on intentions for the next 18 months.
Facebook (FB.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) are among the top tech companies that allow employees to work from home if their work can be done remotely. Part of an effort to attract more diverse talent, according to a Twitter spokesperson, embracing remote working.
Small towns typically aim to support dozens or hundreds of remote worker trips each year. This does not threaten the technological dominance of Silicon Valley, but it could allow California companies to diversify and force them to put more effort into keeping workers.
“The cost-benefit dynamic is rapidly moving away from us, and this needs to be resolved,” said Jason Baker, senior vice president of transportation, health and housing at the technology industry’s Silicon Valley Leadership Group, in a statement.
And the numbers mean a lot to some towns and cities that have experienced a “brain drain” to large metropolitan areas, said Prithwiraj Choudhury, associate professor at Harvard Business School.
Tulsa Remote, which has helped relocate more than 900 people since 2018, received more than 23,000 requests this year, up from around 15,000 last year, a trend picked up by smaller programs in Alabama and Arkansas. . Relocation initiatives are stepping up efforts and new ones, including Chicago, are joining them.
“It’s important that we act quickly and take advantage of this moment of reconsideration,” said Erin Amico, chief operating officer at P33, a non-profit organization that launched a campaign in May to attract tech talent. in Chicago.
The number of applicants for the Remote Shoals Alabama relocation program has grown from less than 25 in February 2020 to nearly 200 in April 2021. About 50% of program participants are employed in tech. In January, Remote Shoals successfully asked its board of directors to double its funding to $ 500,000, enough to help relocate 50 people.
Over 90% of first year Tulsa Remote members have stayed in Tulsa.
Social media company Reddit has seen employees relocate amid the shift to permanent remote work, but HR Director Nellie Peshkov said “it is still too early to say if this is the case. ‘long term change’. Reddit pays its employees the same regardless of where they’re based, while big companies cut wages based on the cost of living, a strategy some employees publicly criticize.
Garland herself says that for all of Tulsa’s perks, her ties to the San Francisco Bay Area are likely to set her back. “Any movement I make is temporary because at some point I will be going home,” she said.
Reporting by Danielle Kaye; edited by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker
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