Pandemic Could Expedite Long-Awaited Changes, Leadership Roles in Global Mobility

Will COVID-19 expedite changes in global mobility? There have been decades in the global mobility industry where little change has happened. And then there are months where it feels like decades happen, or so they say. COVID-19’s wrath has accelerated the path for big changes and new leaders in the global mobility industry.

The Crown World Mobility survey of more than 100 Global Mobility professionals last May bear this out: Companies that look to “return to normal” will fall behind. Companies that look to reprioritize, innovate, embrace the uncomfortable and update will be at an advantage. 

One change many in the industry are expecting is the acceleration of the long discussed move from the traditional, transactional global mobility approach, to one based more on a strategic talent mobility approach. 

From Relocate Magazine’s perspective, enterprises that want a competitive advantage will need the ability to:

  • Know their global employee footprint at all times
  • Stay proactive with compliance risks to avoid being caught off guard
  • Execute talent planning at a global scale, understanding the complex cross-border cost of options
  • Stay agile with continuous adjustments, scenario planning and fluid teaming models
  • Benchmark their talent strategy across multiple geographies, eliminating data silos and inconsistencies for better business intelligence
  • Enhance employee experience by providing visibility, communication, and support for globally mobile employees
  • Accommodate increasingly complex work arrangements with staff regularly working from multiple locations across state and international lines

Coming out of this crisis, global mobility professionals are predicting that business partners will require a more strategic focus on mobility than they have had in the past, but not to worry, because global mobility leaders will rise to meet challenges. 

New leadership roles

A sample from more than 40 participant comments in the Crown Mobility survey points to windows and doors opening to move more global mobility professionals into leadership roles as organizations work to recover and establish new paths forward. 

Stronger collaboration will enter into the next stages of remobilization, along with tackling pressing issues like immigration, and mental health and well-being in addition to other concerns that require serious attention: 

  • Juggling personal and team adjustments with the logistical and emotional aspects of remote working 
  • Life under quarantine 
  • Living with variables such as toddlers or school-aged children at home, elderly parents and underlying health conditions 
  • Internet challenges 
  • Salary/Staff reductions 
  • Changes in roles and responsibilities 
  • Increased working hours 

Global mobility’s initial focus in response to COVID-19 is needed to be mentioned here for these talent managers to understand how to move forward with their current crop of talents. For example, about 56% supported employees who had already started their international assignments prior to Covid-19 followed by 53% who made sure to tackle crisis management and business continuity, while yet another 31% proceeded with immigration applications and documents to get ahead of future backlogs. 

On the other hand, 26% still initiated new relocations/international assignments despite the Covid-19 situation. About 43% of the respondents are also confident about international assignments in a post-COVID world. It has been said that many strategies for recovery have a “safety first” or “peace of mind” approach. 

A common explanation given by Crown Mobility is that global mobility professionals are first and foremost committed to Duty of Care, even without knowing the full extent of the virus’ impact in the world.