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Global Mobility should define its own post-Covid world

Cinema sign saying "stay safe"

It’s a truth (almost) universally acknowledged that the coronavirus has completely changed the world. For our industry, this change is especially noticeable. There have been around 45% fewer assignments over the past 12 months, with spend down around 10%. This sets a new benchmark for global mobility, with a third of businesses expecting a lasting reduction in relocations1.

As if that wasn’t enough, the pandemic swept the globe during a period of self-reflection within the industry. As much as tax and immigration compliance is increasingly complex, so the wellbeing and duty of care for employees has demanded more attention. These changing priorities coincided with shifting patterns of mobility, particularly with a move towards shorter assignments. In isolation it’s manageable, but combined with the effects of Covid-19, the pressure is felt across the board.

Global mobility must adapt to the post-Covid world, with the least possible impact on the assignee. To make matters worse, new ways of working should already be in place – the change has happened. Global mobility (like everything else) is playing catch up. As we adapt, we should shape our industry to deal with constant change. If recent events have proven anything, it’s that nothing is certain. Except change. Change is the one constant we can rely on.

We remain mobile

For now, despite everything, assignments and other cross-border work continues. And they do so while the rest of us play catch up. The situation is always developing. There are various localised rules and inconsistent travel restrictions to deal with. Add on changing business needs and last-minute cancellations and things get tricky.

Aside from this, shifting mobility patterns are hastened by the pandemic. More short-term assignments join emergency repatriations in the race to making our world far from simple. Then we add Brexit to the mix. Its full impact isn’t yet known, but there will certainly be new immigration compliance requirements.

Scrabble tiles spelling work from home

Then there are mental health risks to consider. A RES Forum survey1 highlights the very real concerns over mental health issues related to Covid-19. Lockdowns and social distancing become loneliness and isolation. And this is only made worse where families are kept apart.

Finally, and timing could hardly be worse, we’re forced to rethink the overall role of international assignments, at least in context. Who relocates, why they do so and how that relocation happens are all necessary questions. And the answers are urgent. The need for change is here and the solutions must be adaptable enough to keep step with an uncertain future.

Global mobility in a post-Covid world

It’s tough, there’s no doubt. But there are objectives to meet, performances to evaluative and the usual tax, comp and benefits to manage. You know, the day job. At a time when resources and budgets are stretched, and our priorities don’t always line up. It’s not an easy time to be in global mobility. But in many ways, it is quite exciting.

Despite everything, this is a rare opportunity to define global mobility in a post-Covid world. 2020 gives us a chance to rethink our industry and understand which parts can and which should be refreshed. Though we couldn’t predict the pandemic, we can prepare for the consequences of another one. And we should put employee wellbeing top of the list.

Wan walks past rainbow with the words stay alert save lives

Next, we can update and create processes and policies designed around an ever-changing environment. These will deal with increasingly complex compliance and more frequent last-minute changes. Better emergency provisions will compliment improved assignee communications to manage physical and mental health risks.

As we reassess mobility, we can think about where travel is necessary compared with virtual assignments and remote working. Digital will play an increasingly central role in our world; this is a great chance to define that role and ensure that it’s fit for purpose.

Then, as we look ahead, we consider the next generation of international assignees. Tech savvy, independent and accustomed to managing their lives online. They’ve grown up in a digital first world. Their expectations of global mobility will be no different.

Step by step

All that change is fine. In principle. But you have day jobs. Your people are on assignment under increasingly challenging circumstances, while HR and mobility resources are low. Under such conditions, restructuring our industry feels like a distant dream. So, how do you do it?

Put simply, responsibility is shared across the industry. We’re all in the same boat and need to paddle in the same direction. This means more support from your suppliers, freeing time to create strategies, processes and workflows.

Red lights showing covid rates on a map

And the good news is, your suppliers can already add plenty of support:

  • Better employee experience
  • More responsibility for duty of care
  • Clearer insight into the effects of Covid-19 around the world
  • Up to date information about changes to laws and compliance requirements

Arguably a grander ambition, suppliers can also help with your overall strategic vision. Their insight and know-how can help shape your global mobility strategy, from long-term international assignment objectives to overcoming specific regional challenges, and much more.

This bigger vision is a fine aspiration. But you’re most concerned with what’s happening now, and your suppliers must deliver the right solutions for now. Luckily, suitable options are available.

Managed Lump Sum Solutions

Fixed sum relocation allowances give you certainty over budgets and cut needless admin. Meanwhile, with our support, your people are in good hands. We know the value of assignees’ decisions and our network keeps them safe throughout the journey.

With feet on the ground around the world, we’re on top of travel restrictions and Covid-19 laws. Our tech helps your assignees find their new home, without the risks. And our relationships secure flexible terms, for when things change at the last minute.

We know that you have too many plates to spin. But we’ve got the people, networks and solutions to help you keep them spinning. Get in touch to discuss how our Managed Lump Sum Solution will look after your assignees, while you take care of their future.


1Now, next and beyond. Global Mobility’s response to Covid-19 June 2020.
Featured image by Chloe Evans on Unsplash


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