Bristol News


The State of Global Mobility: Planning for Now…and What’s to Come

Bristol sees the new era of Global Mobility as one of great challenge AND opportunity. Mobility as we know it will not end - it will transform. And we will be agents and architects of that transformation!

25 June 2020

Part 1:  Opportunities... Challenges… and a call to Action!

Bristol has been taking part in daily discussions and talking to our clients about the future of Global Mobility and what we can be doing now to prepare.  Here’s our view.

While the future remains uncertain what is certain is that the landscape will be very different. Companies seeking strategic advantage will face unprecedented challenges, radically changed work patterns and more complex regulations along with greater demand for creative solutions, flexibility and cost containment.

Bristol sees the new era of Global Mobility as one of great challenge AND opportunity.  Mobility as we know it will not end - it will transform.  And we will be agents and architects of that transformation!  Read on.

The OPPORTUNITY for Global Mobility

We see the changing landscape as a unique and positive opportunity for GM leaders to step up more strategically within their companies as never before to:

  • Redefine and expand GM’s influence, oversight and value as business partners;
  • Provide innovative thought, creative approaches and practical solutions to the company’s talent demands and broader business strategies;
  • Ensure compliance within complex regulatory environments;
  • Meet intensified cost-containment imperatives.

Rethinking mobility:  The traditional mobility pattern is of course moving People -->Jobs, and this need will always exist.  However, future relocations may be fewer, more selective offerings for key talent to fill critical strategic or technical roles that simply cannot be performed remotely.   The new order will now include the concept of moving Jobs --> People and GM can also take part in the decisions that determine such roles, who fills them and the appropriate benefits and support to be provided.   

Making the case: GM has much to offer in advising and informing the strategic decision of where any given role may be performed and who is best suited for it along with the appropriate policy terms and conditions.  GM owns the policies, manages the necessary external advisory relationships and is keenly aware of the evolving regulatory and compliance issues.  GM can be very effectively consultative in any cross-border work proposal whether it be “Work from Anywhere” (WFA), virtual, remote, frequent business travel (FBT) or Commuter in addition to the classic short-term, long-term and permanent transfers that have long been our traditional domain.  GM has not always had oversight of business travel or commuter policies for example but many of the considerations and support mechanisms are similar.  GM can also offer cost-saving solutions as well as ensure company-wide understanding of the criticality of tax and immigration tracking and compliance.

The CHALLENGE for Global Mobility

The importance of Connection:  In our work-from-home environments it is especially challenging to maintain meaningful connection with our colleagues and stakeholders… while it has never been more important to do so.  To make the case for Global Mobility as described above we must be intentional and proactive in our communications, maintain and grow our personal connections while demonstrating expertise and added value for our companies. 

Cost reductions vs. incentivizing talent:  Global Mobility will be under renewed pressure to reduce costs.  Many reflexively assume that a reduction of employee benefits follows, and this may be true in certain cases and wherever possible. However, companies that have spent decades wringing more and more cost savings out of their comp and benefits packages may rightly ask how much further can we go?

Barriers to relocation:  More importantly however on the talent side of the equation we should anticipate greater reluctance to relocate.  Objections such as spouse and family resistance, separation from extended family and home environment, increased travel stresses, quarantines, health and safety hazards, assignments to difficult locations and potential career risks will need to be overcome with flexible arrangements and creative compensation packages.  Paradoxically companies may need to provide even more benefits and increased Duty of Care support to persuade key talent to accept critical roles requiring physical relocation.

Policy Considerations:  We believe the byword will be flexibility.   Companies should be prepared with detailed policy guidelines to address new forms of talent mobility and meet widely varying individual needs.  In Part 2 of this discussion, we will explore some specific policy implications of balancing flexibility with consistency, cost containment with competitiveness, and current “best practices" along with the value… and limits… of benchmarking.

Seizing the Opportunity and Meeting the Challenge

 A few words of encouragement and suggested behaviors for success:

  • BE POSITIVE!  We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to revolutionize our profession, reinvent ourselves and achieve new heights!
  • Be ahead of the curve ...Stay agile… Stay informed… DAILY!  Participate in all industry gatherings, webinars, follow the immigration and tax developments, talk to your trusted industry experts and think hard about how the new forms of mobility and range of solutions may relate to YOUR company.
  • Stay connected and networked internally
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and added value every day
  • Be involved consultatively in any cross-border work proposal
  • Lean on the right partners: RMC (that’s us!) /immigration/tax/HHG/ labor law..
  • Be flexible! Use common sense in dealing with unique circumstances, and perhaps more lenient in granting and tracking exceptions to policy during these times
  • Overall, be guided by a sense of Duty of Care to employees!  Maintain ultimate focus on their safety, well-being and productivity.  Be aware that family issues are paramount. Be mindful of untold stresses.  Consider flexibility and enhanced support, even if it may be considered an exception to policy.

And speaking of policy…stay tuned for a few words next week on approaches to Policy Review.

Meantime… Stay well and stay informed!


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