The future is now: global mobility’s moment to lead

A relocation, group move or international assignment is about moving hearts and minds. The pandemic and now Brexit is putting this in focus like never before, as the Future Fit webinar series finds.

Experts from across the global mobility sphere including – Louise Worbey, Global Mobility Lead, KPMG International and Lisa Johnson, Global Practice Leader, Consulting Services and D&I Champion at Crown World Mobility – joined Relocate Global’s managing editor, Fiona Murchie, to exchange practice that you can share with colleagues and stakeholders across the business as you accelerate your growth and recovery plans.
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Influencing decision-makers – global mobility’s role

Latest research and practice shows global mobility expertise has a vital role in helping leaders navigate the unprecedented disruption caused by the global pandemic.Urging the sector’s expertise to step in, take the initiative and guide leaders through the decisions they face, speaker at the upcoming Future Fit webinar, Louise Worbey, says “the perspective I’ve been building up over the past few years is how far we’ve come from the traditional assignment model with the advent of commuters, rotations and the different desires around the workforce for what they want out of global mobility.“When Covid came up, I thought ‘this is it – this is our opportunity.’ We’ve been developing this skillset around this changing world of work. For many organisations, it’s been top of mind. For others, it’s not been on the table at all. It’s been transactional. As global mobility leads, we’ve crept into this arena. “We are having to look at non-traditional models with Covid and the challenges that presents,” continues Louise Worbey. “If you look at the buzzword now of virtual assignments and we examine what these are, there is no cross-border movement. But who else in the organisation is going to be able to risk assess and provide advice to the business on that type of structure? I feel that mobility teams are ideally positioned. I see this is an opportunity to get more face time with leaders.”

Group moves – Covid and the end of the Brexit transition period

As well as grappling with the logistical and compliance challenges of dispersed workforces and remote working, these same leaders are facing the challenge of squeezed cashflow and high overheads for office premises that lay dormant.Part of leaders’ response is a lean in to their workforce’s preference for more flexible, remote-working practices. The pandemic has proved that remote working is at least as productive as working from offices. Research from both the CIPD and the CBI concur that a full-scale return to office life is unlikely in the near future. For mobility professionals, office-space downsizing is playing into an uptick in group moves. Whether the result of mergers and acquisition activity, redundancies or just a reality-check about the landscape of today’s world of work, group moves isn’t a new role for global mobility teams. Yet, again, the current moment and focus on employee experience put the global mobility function in a unique position to really add value to leaders’ decision making and return on investment. “With Brexit and coronavirus, this is a timely moment to consider group moves,” says Lisa Johnson. “Economic downturns are when group moves often happen. Right now, we are seeing a change in real estate prices and new lease agreements and remote working is a reality. “So many companies are saying they will never go back to everyone being in the office. Companies no longer have the same requirements for size and location, so we are seeing lots of take up for short-distance group moves as well as out of markets that are no longer a priority.” 

The emotional reality of group moves during coronavirus

While business leaders may not be aware of the many pitfalls of group moves, mobility expertise is well-versed in what can go wrong. However, extra care needs to be taken in these extraordinary times. An international move often comes with opportunity as well as stress. Group moves often mean there is no choice and sometimes no job for everyone. “It’s a different mindset and scenario,” says Lisa Johnson. “It’s very different emotionally for group moves.”Louise Worbey agrees, saying the skills needed here are much more than transactional. “It’s the handholding and setting the tone from the top. Lisa’s case study and the workshop to get managers involved and giving them the resources to manage change is a wonderful idea.“There are lots of new perspectives about what somebody needs on assignment or on a group move. For example, around education and tutoring for school-age family members. These are new initiatives I want to know about.” 

The importance of wellbeing to successful group moves and relocations

The pandemic has put employee health front and centre of decision-making, deepening another recent trend in global mobility. Heart Relocation, a full-service expatriate assignment management company, has published research, The Role of Wellness in International Assignments, to highlight the importance and value of looking after the wellbeing of assignees and their families during relocation.As well as this research, the webinar will look at the inclusion perspective of the pandemic’s impact and how this is a moment for global mobility to work with leaders here, too. “We need to embrace the negative things about Covid and the awakening to systemic inequality that still exists in organisations and society,” says Lisa Johnson. “How can we grab this and make a real change? This year and Covid has forced us to be very innovative about business and how we do our jobs. There’s new thinking – even radical thinking. How can we embrace it?”Louise Worbey agrees. “We are never going back when it comes to remote working. Organisations at the forefront of that and who appreciate diversity will go on to prosper. It’s going to be challenging, but expectations have been raised.Watch the replay of the Group Move Planning discussion as part of the Future Fit Global Talent Mobility webinar series.
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