Global Mobility policies in a post-pandemic environment

What will global mobility look like in your organization post-pandemic?

COVID-19 has forced many companies and organizations to set up virtual deployments and remote working arrangements as an immediate solution. Although these kind of arrangements will continue to have a place in some organization’s global mobility program post-pandemic, for most the reality is that physical deployments remain a fundamental requirement to address the strategic and operational goals of many businesses.

As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and travel restrictions start to ease in many countries, businesses should start to consider what global mobility will look like in a post-pandemic world. The pandemic has had a long-lasting impact on the way we do business, the way we work, and how we live, meaning that employers should consider reassessing their global mobility programs to adapt to changes both in the business and in the workforce. An initial step that can be taken to optimize and adapt global mobility programs is to set business and talent objectives and review policies in light of those goals in preparation for when business is back to normal, or at least the new normal.

Reviewing existing global mobility policies

In reviewing global mobility policies, Global Mobility experts should ask themselves some of the following questions:

  • What are the business’ post-pandemic objectives and does our current global mobility program support those objectives? Do we need to introduce different assignment types?
  • The pandemic has changed the priorities and opinions of many employees. What is the employee sentiment? Are employees as willing to go on assignment and under the same conditions?
  • Are compensation and benefits packages aligned to business and talent objectives?
  • Is there a need to implement additional safety, health, and wellbeing measures, including appropriate insurances to cover for pandemics, repatriation arrangements, etc.?
  • Do you need to offer employees extra support to navigate immigration and travel restrictions where applicable and who bear this cost? What processes should you have in place to stay updated on changing international restrictions?
Introducing new global mobility policies – international remote work

The past year and a half have taught us that in many situations remote work is a viable alternative to physical deployments, and it has made many companies exploring the long-term potential in this solution. Furthermore, employees’ priorities and expectations have shifted during the pandemic. Working remotely has provided more flexibility and a feeling of stronger ties to home and family as the pandemic has made it difficult for many to spend time with their loved ones.

As many employers and employees start to see the benefits of remote work, it is crucial that employers start to investigate whether international remote work is a viable alternative for the company. This means considering the compliance obligations involved, whether the organization is willing and able to handle the administration and costs involved to be compliant and how much flexibility the business actually wants to provide its employees.

Aside from international remote work arrangements, there may be an increase in employees who live close to the border of their working country wanting to enter commuter arrangements with more work from home than in the office. These employees may have previously happily worked from Monday to Friday in the work country and returned home on the weekend. Such arrangements can have many implications from a tax, social security, employment law, and compliance perspective which should carefully be assessed before committing to allowing such arrangements.

Some key questions that global mobility experts should ask themselves include:

  • Has there been a shift in the business and talent strategy that raises the need for a new policy(ies) (e.g. commuter or remote work policy)
  • Has the workforce sentiment towards international assignments changed?
  • What would the policy look like and what compensation packages apply?
  • Do the benefits of a remote work arrangement exceed the compliance and reporting costs?
  • Do we have the competence, resources, and technological support to manage remote work cases?
  • What is the long-term impact on employee retention and attraction?
  • Who would be eligible for remote work?

Our Global Workforce team at Deloitte has extensive competence and experience in policy review and design, with experts on tax, social security, employment law, and compliance. We are happy to assist your organization in assessing the necessary next steps to prepare for the future of global mobility.

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