Back to work products and services

With two-fifths of British workers now travelling to work, according to ONS official figures and the list of countries where you can and can’t travel updated, it is time to review what is available to make life easier and safer as the UK emerges from lockdown.

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Summer Issue 2020 cover image
This article is taken from the latest issue of Relocate magazine – the must read for HR, global managers and relocation professionals.
Click on the cover to access the digital edition or read all of the articles on our website.
The government has provided extensive guidelines for returning to work but what do they mean for employers and relocation professionals managing domestic relocations, project moves and international assignments?As more businesses begin to bring people back to the workplace Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser at the CIPD, reminded employers that people’s health and safety needed to be “first and foremost” because the coronavirus risk remained. Working from home was “still by far the safer and preferred option”, she said, and employers needed to consider if it was essential for people to return.

Preparing your employees for re-opening and business travel

Healix International’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Adrian Hyzler reported at the end of June on six months of Covid-19 which has affected 213 countries and territories worldwide. There have been over 10 million confirmed cases and over half a million confirmed deaths with the actual numbers believed to be much higher. Healix International’s report Six months of COVID-19: What do we know about the disease? is a valuable resource for those managing international assignees and business travellers.In addition the British firm, which has its international headquarters in Surrey, has launched a new online risk assessment tool. The new platform called ‘COVID Travel Safe’, will assist organisations to re-start essential business travel during the pandemic and evaluate the medical and logistical risks associated with individual travellers and their unique travel plans.Mike Webb, CEO says, “Businesses cannot operate via virtual conference tools forever. Business critical travel needs to resume, and for many, that needs to happen now. However, employee expectations and legislation have drastically changed in the wake of COVID-19. Organisations across every industry are faced with the difficulty of demonstrating their duty of care obligations to their employees in an incredibly complex operating environment, particularly when it comes to weighing up the risks of international travel.“COVID-19 has turned the entire concept of travel risk on its head. For the first time in a generation, risk is highest in parts ofthe world that have historically been considered the safest, and these countries account for more than 90% of global business travel. Logistical and operational restrictions across the world are changing by the day. Information related to COVID-19 and necessary measures to reduce transmission remains vast, ambiguous, highly complex and often incomplete. Even the most well-resourced organisations are struggling to stay on top of the magnitude of information that is published each day.“Our COVID Travel Safe risk assessment tool combines cutting edge technology with best in class medical and risk intelligence for the highest levels of duty of care.”

Protecting graduate employees 

The coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on graduate employers. Over the last three months Pro Tenant have been supporting clients and their graduates by managing a number of Covid-19 specific challenges and complications.Summer-Issue-in-text-banner1From graduate employers the most common request has been for early termination of tenancy contracts in circumstances such as when graduates have been furloughed, or needed to return to the family home to self-isolate, negotiating the early termination of tenancy agreements and house/flat share agreements, with minimum or zero financial penalties.As graduate mobility starts to return more fully, our role is to ensure the client’s employees remain safe and suitably advised regarding physical or remote property viewings with clearly structured and documented risk analysis, to include government social distancing and hygiene guidelines, Pro Tenant say. From the initial needs’ assessment phase through to how the consultant interacts with the graduate and the practicalities of viewing ‘etiquette’ all need to be reviewed under the new normal of supporting graduate employees, they confirm.

Relocation management companies respond 

Relocation consultants are quickly adapting to the new world of virtual home visits on behalf of clients. Many had already been providing a similar service for time pressed clients often based overseas. With the introduction of 14 days quarantine for arrivals to the UK from the Government’s ‘red’ countries, resourceful relocation companies are providing specific support to relieve the pain. Heart Relocation, who were Highly Commended in the Best Relocation Management Company category of the 2020 Relocate Awards, have introduced a comprehensive Quarantine Support Service which includes assignment pick-up, 24/7 support, shopping, personal protection, remote settling in, daily check in and pre-move inspection.They have also produced a Wellness Research Paper ‘The Role of Wellness in International Assignments’ which makes a valuable contribution to policy review as we reassess global mobility, business travel, talent management, supply chains and duty of care as economies start to recover from the pandemic.Weichert Workforce Mobility have produced a Relocation Rebound white paper. This includes a simple checklist to mitigate risk with a more effective Duty of Care policy. They suggest:
  •  Develop a process to monitor and track travellers for key areas of pre- trip assessment: taxation, immigration and Duty of Care
  •  Synchronize with Travel, Security and HR
  •  Determine roles and responsibilities
  • Educate and communicate with business leaders and employees
Weichert state that health briefings are likely to become as important – if not more important – than tax or security briefings.

Serviced Apartments 

Serviced apartments offer obvious advantages over hotels in helping to keep business travellers and those on an assignment safe with reduced contact.The serviced apartment association ASAP were swift to support their members at the start of the Covid-19 crisis.James Foice, ASAP CEO, says: “When we realised how hard it was to find suitable places to live during the crisis, we worked closely with councils and public bodies to offer safe serviced apartments to those desperate to isolate close to work, or needing emergency accommodation.“The comments we got back were all about the standard of cleanliness and the ability for guests to isolate safely, in comfort, made us realise how the industry was calling out for a formalisation of standards that we can all meet, across the industry. Crucially, this offers that all-important reassurance to visitors and travel buyers that serviced apartments offer a vision of accommodation post-COVID.”“Our own Members already carry independently assessed Accreditation, and hygiene plays an important part ofthat. But we added a new protocol to cover enhanced deep-cleaning and the sanitisation of properties, the ASAP ‘Stay with Confidence Promise’, that covers every element of a guest stay from before they arrive to after they’ve checked out.“ASAP’s new directory, for the Serviced Apartment sector is a portal to lead both those looking for accommodation and those offering it to register their needs or availability. With a growing footprint of accredited operators globally and via Accredited Agents, corporate decision makers and travellers can access properties in Europe, North America, Asia, South America and Oceania with the ASAP or ISAAP Agent accreditation for Americas, EMEA or APAC.ISAAP provides recognition and accreditation awards to members of the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP), the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) and the Global Alliance of Serviced Accommodation (GASA) and currently has accredited companies in 25 countries.Frasers Hospitality was the first hospitality brand to be awarded ASAP’s ISAAP Compliance Accreditation across the twelve countries it operates in across EMEA. They are also 2020 Relocate Award winners.Through their Fraser Cares initiative, they have implemented various measures in preparation for re-opening to align with government guidance, with the health and safety of guests and employees their core priority. They have introduced the new Tersano Lotus PRO cleaning system across all guest rooms to ensure the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitization upon arrival. Other measures include reorganised public areas with marked out safe distances to ensure social distancing, investment in PPE for staff, and sanitation stations throughout their properties. They have also introduced additional flexibility when it comes to cancellations and postponement, giving their customers confidence that they will support them should their circumstances change.
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