What does 2024 hold for global mobility?

Experts from across the globe gathered to discuss recent trends and predictions at the latest Beyond Borders event in London. Ledetta Asfa-Wossen reports.

Image of globe with artwork indicating global mobility

This article is taken from the Winter 2023/24 issue of

Think Global People magazine

Click on the cover to access the digital edition.
View your copy of the Winter 2023 issue of Think Global People magazine.
The global mobility offering has never been broader, from international training programmes to workcations and business trips. Add to this shifting global trends in tech, immigration and the way we work and you get a complex environment. Here were a few thoughts from experts on the most prominent themes.


‘This future of work that we find ourselves thrown into has really acted as a provocation to employers to actually do things better, and differently. And positively, what I’m seeing in my networks is an increased push for transparency and increased levels of sharing and collaboration,” enthused Naomi Trickey, Chief People Officer, Mews.Some examples included us of sites like Open Org.fyi which allow companies to digitally share their different company policies for any location which can be invaluable if you’re a global operating company trying to localise.Melina Jacovou, founder and CEO of Propel, shared that some companies, much like people, can be resistant to change, but that developments in technology were having a beneficial impact on health and education and other areas related to travel and global mobility and that it was about how we use it.Robbie Osborne, Head of Finance at Humaans, offered his perspective. “Tech in many ways presents the same problems we’ve always grappled with. But, on the other side of the equation, there are so many tools and potential solutions out there and I think that’s one of the biggest changes in the last few years. Organisations can sometimes have an unrealistic optimism that this one new tool is going to be the panacea that solves every problem and then the anxiety creeps in that that might not be the case. That outcome becomes difficult for companies and their people to navigate. But the abundance of solutions also offers a huge opportunity.”Mobility experts discussed tech as a cost-effective solution, and how tech is being used to tackle talent shortages.“Contact is going to be one of the biggest things with the level of talent out there. In the next 10 years, 260 million university graduates will enter the job market. For context, 260 million was about the number of the entire talent market in the 1990s – so growth is exponential. And those 260 million are not coming from ‘powerhouse’ markets, like the US, Europe, China and Japan. They are almost all from outside those areas. If that’s the case, how will we access them? Technology and automation allows access but it also creates an overwhelming spam issue and we now need that  balance to come through of having a really wide net but also being specific and local at the same time. It’s a fine line to tread and one we’re still trying to work out,” explained Ash Rama, VP of People, Mention Me.In addition to reach, productivity and collaboration, tech is finding a significant place in connecting distributed teams. But how can organisations ensure they don’t lose sight of what makes us human?“Technologies speed up the processes and your reach but the issue is the connectivity bit. You can’t automate everything; at some point you still need a human perspective,” added Jacovou.As people become more tech savvy, expectations begin to rise too. “Then it becomes more about how positive their experience is using it, not just what it can do,” added Osborne. If that experience is poor, that has a negative impact on employees, which can trickle down into teams, and the culture.Looking even further into the future, some panellists discussed how developments in technology would spur the need for more talent.“Generative AI is going to be a game changer in the next 18-21 months. If companies don’t get in the right talent they’re just not going to succeed,” stated Anthony Petane, Director of Product at Localyze.

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When it comes to immigration, there have been two key trends. “On the negative side, there have been countries being more protective and closing in on borders. But we also have to be mindful that immigration can have negative connotations, so we need to fix the way people talk and think about it and really highlight the positive examples and success stories on why movement is so important,” said Hanna Asmussen, CEO and Cofounder of Localyze.“On the flip side, and I think this is the stronger trend, we know from leading economists that the skills gap, innovation and talent all come from opening up our borders and have a positive impact on the net GDP of countries. There may well be a temporary five to 10-year trend where it’s challenging but I think the 50-year picture will be positive and really see more borders opening up.”And, that’s because of a few reasons – simply put, people want to move around. As a result of this, Asmussen said many companies are recruiting more internationally and are starting to put pressure on governments by lobbying for better immigration policies.


“I think we’re really going to see countries and organisations that are driven by people and how they want to work,” shared Asmussen. This was echoed by other speakers on the day.“The expectations of our employees is just so much higher than it used to be, having said that, it has gone down in other areas, so it’s swings and roundabouts.” The solution? “Build flexibility into absolutely everything you do,” added Trickey, because the only thing constant is change.These expectations also apply to the benefits companies offer, added Gabriela Matias, VP of People at Topi. “When you think about benefits, particularly in global mobility, to be competitive you have to understand the different priorities people might have in each country you operate in. You might be very competitive offering certain things in the UK, but they could be of little value to your team in Spain. It’s important to understand people but also different groups of people, and their specific and unique needs. You might not be able to give them everything but you can listen, feedback and communicate what else you might be able to offer.”“Flexibility, for example, in some of our global policies, is one of those benefits that we can give and doesn’t cost organisations that much,” said Matias.Flexibility was a repeated theme on the day, both as a way of companies being able to cater more to the individual, and also as a benefit that employees are increasingly requesting.Trickey highlighted that flexibility can also help with productivity and development. “Our recent survey found that our remote workers are actually more engaged than our office workers, so it works.”Sophie Amato, Head of People and Culture at Social Value Portal, explained that many of her workforce were not using their benefits at all so they looked into it. “A recent survey told us that out of all our employee benefits, 73% of our team value benefits that fall into the flexibility category more than anything else – well above health and wellbeing. Data like that can really make a difference and help companies answer some of these expectations.”Cautious of companies facing external and internal pressures too, Amato advised on ways companies can get started and test the waters. “We have a high number of our team with families in other countries, so that might look like introducing a policy to allow them to extend their Christmas leave by two weeks so they can spend a month with their family. If you need to keep that specialist knowledge in house, it’s a no brainer. When it comes to flexibility, have a good baseline of where you want to go. Start small, explore and see where it goes and measure the feedback.”


Another key trend was work set-ups, with many companies still finding their feet on ways of working and the working from home era being still fairly new and reinventing itself.“Most our teams are at least hybrid if not remote so we’re thinking a lot about rituals, transparency and dialogue in our company,” noted Trickey who shared how Mews is offering various ways for their people to connect, share information and voice opinions.“Flexibility is here to stay. If you look at Gen Z, that’s what they know and that’s what they want,” said Jerome Leclercq, Global Head of Recruitment and Employer Branding at Wise.While others warned companies may have to adapt or lose. “Anyone who can work remotely, if you begin to place that restraint on them to need to come in, you risk losing that talent,” said Sally Flexman, Head of Global Mobility at Remote.But Amato, who is not alone, senses there may be a bit of a battle next year as the subject of flexibility and work setups becomes more divisive. “One half of the market, particularly large corporates, felt a bit shaken about the concept of hybrid working and breaking from the traditional office 9-5, then you’ve got many innovative companies who are providing great flexibility and putting global first. I don’t think everyone is moving in the same direction yet and I think that’s going to become more prevalent.”

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