Connectivity has been a boon for companies searching far and wide for quality workers. Businesses can wade deeper into a larger pool of prospective workers thanks to online job boards. Of course, the hiring process hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns. For some glass and glazing companies, the process has left a bad taste in their mouths.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reports the drop in worker relocations is partially due to employers continuing to offer remote and hybrid positions and job seekers becoming unwilling to move for work.

Worker shortages have rocked the trade industry for years. Dodge Construction Network and Procore Technologies collaborated on a study to learn how economic, workforce and technology trends are transforming the global construction industry. They found that 90% of global construction companies have experienced negative impacts due to labor shortages.

“The labor shortage is the biggest challenge that specialty contractors are facing and the most important problem that I am dedicated to helping solve,” says Will Lehrmann, Procore’s head of product for specialty contractors. “With so much of the workforce leaving, being more efficient and productive will be crucial.”

Remote or Bust

Labor challenges continue to persist despite the increased noise surrounding the topic. In fact, the problems could increase. Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reports that the number of job seekers relocating for new jobs has fallen to the lowest levels on record in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023. The data comes from a survey of more than 3,000 job seekers across the country.

According to the business and executive coaching firm, this is due to employers continuing to offer remote and hybrid positions and job seekers becoming unwilling to move for work.

For the glass and glazing industries, that’s not good. Automation has transformed work, but curtainwalls and windows don’t install themselves. Glass and glazing companies need boots on the ground to function.

Data accumulated by Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows that in Q1, only 1.6% of surveyed job seekers relocated for new positions, down from 3.7% in the final quarter of 2022 and 4.6% in Q1 2022. More than 7.5% of workers relocated in quarter two of 2020.

“In the 1980s and 90s, nearly a third of job seekers would move for new positions,” says Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “That has fallen steadily since housing costs have risen and companies have moved to where talent pools are located. Now, remote and hybrid positions are keeping workers at home.”

Rising Costs Hold Back Workers

Remote work is only partially the problem. The survey found that in April and May 2023, among 170 companies nationwide, 39% offered fully remote work options, down from 44% last fall and 61% in the spring of 2022. Fully remote work offerings peaked in the fall of 2022 when 73% of companies offered them to their workers and hires.

Challenger says that costs are a major contributor to why job seekers refuse to move for work.

“With interest rates continuing to rise, mortgage rate increases, and persistent inflation, the cost of selling a house and finding other housing may not be worth it to job seekers,” he says.