What a week! Our virtual events have included a hangout, an APAC hangout, a Global Mobility Function course and, through the powers of great technology, a Symposium Huddle. Admittedly we held the Huddle in two parts as it did seem a little harsh to keep everyone online for a whole day, but I am delighted to say we had record numbers with members from overseas joining us too for some great discussions. An insight to these discussions can be found here. We are certainly looking forward to doing it all again next week with the Club 100 Huddle!
The current challenges
The focus within Global Mobility has definitely changed from reactive to, an appetite to use this opportunity to be, proactive. Many members are currently working on ways to use the spotlight that has been placed on a number of difficult issues, such as Business Travellers, to drive through projects that they have been hoping to implement for some time. In addition, many want to use this opportunity to highlight that Global Mobility can be a key strategic partner to recovery planning and pave the way for their company to return to business as usual or, where necessary, adjust to the ‘new normal’. Some other specific challenges have included:
- Managing the moves that are currently on hold. Global Mobility are in agreement that they must use this time to manage business expectations and make it clear assignees will not be able to move the day after lockdown is lifted. Certainly, from an immigration perspective alone there will be severe backlogs in processing times globally. Some countries may require new documents such as health certificates whilst other countries such as South Africa have revoked work visas when assignees left at the beginning of lockdown so new visas may need to be applied for.
- Global Mobility is working on how best to prioritise relocations once the current restrictive measures are lifted. For example, one company is looking to prioritise moving families first as they will need to get their kids into school before the start of the next school year.
- Whilst many clients closed projects in South Korea when lockdown came into force there was real optimism on our APAC virtual hangout that South Korea will once again be opening up and these projects will go ahead once more.
- Other companies, particularly in the tech industry, have seen success with virtual assignments and are considering whether to introduce a policy to be able to offer this to the business as one of the options in their Global Mobility policy framework.
- For those companies that have assignees still travelling due to the essential nature of their work, the pre-trip approval is absolutely mandatory. Health teams and security teams need to know where people are, and this pandemic has interestingly seen an increased compliance from employees and assignees in these companies.
- Business travellers. Once lockdown has been lifted there could well be additional issues for business travellers as they could be deemed higher risk on the basis they are flying in and out of a country quickly and won’t necessarily have 14 days quarantine on arrival. In addition, some travellers may not be aware of the restrictive measures still in place that they must adhere to and could potentially be subject to fines and / or deported if seen to be in breach of the restrictive measures.
Relocation Management Companies (RMCs) are reporting some of their offices are opening back up in light of some of the easing of restrictions in countries such as Spain, Switzerland and, in the APAC hangout, there was a discussion around the hope there will be a lift in lockdown measures in Thailand within the next two weeks.
Household Goods and Destination Service Provider services are once again being delivered in China albeit with additional safety measures in place.
Interestingly, many RMC’s are still seeing new assignment initiations coming in but obviously with no specified start date as yet.
For many immigration providers work in the pipeline is keeping them busy with many companies currently still aiming for their graduate schemes to go live in September.
Last week’s Expat Academy Roundup outlined the practical application of President Trump’s tweet announcing he was “temporarily suspending immigration” into the United States. Thankfully significant push back behind the scenes from the private sector and internally by the White House staff had resulted in a narrower proclamation thereby reducing the effect on business. In effect it only restricted a person going into a consulate outside the US (which are currently shut) in the next 60 days to lodge a permanent resident application. This affected a very small number, as Green cards based on professional ability are usually applied for from within the US.
However, the part of the proclamation that directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to make a study of the impact of temporary foreign workers on US workers within 30 days, has caused concern because of the very broad remit and the fact that it gives the Trump administration a platform to bring in further measures. It is feared, from leaked conversations between Stephen Miller, Senior Adviser to President Trump, and conservative allies, that this Executive Order is only the first of many new proclamations and is part of a much broader plan to ‘turn off the faucet of new immigrant labor’ (NY Times, 2020). Given that elections are looming this sort of rhetoric seems to have appealed to the public and therefore the suspension may last longer than the initial 60 days outlined.
Once again there have been reports from around the globe of some restrictions being lifted slightly as well as some governments providing automatic extensions to residence permits or temporary visas but there appears to be a variation in end dates which require close monitoring.
For the latest travel and immigration updates from around the globe, our Network Sponsors, Newland Chase, publish a guide that is updated regularly each day and can be found here.
Recovery and remobilisation
We have heard lots of discussion this week of “remobilisation strategies” as well as the chance to use this opportunity to re-educate the business so Global Mobility is viewed as a business facilitator rather than a business blocker.
PwC ran a pulse survey to look at the impact of COVID-19 for Global Mobility and the mobile workforce and released the results this week. 350 respondents completed the survey and provided some fascinating market insights as well as highlighting Global Mobility strategies which were shared at the Symposium Huddle this week. There are some fascinating insights into the very different ways our industry is looking to deal with planned international moves, current international moves and strategy. The full report can be found in the Vault.
Well-being whilst working from home
There was an interesting article that came across my LinkedIn newsfeed this week headlined “Why working from home is so exhausting – and how to reinvigorate.” It was written by Dr Tracy Brower, the author of Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations which focuses on work-life fulfilment. In the article she looks at the fact that COVID-19 have caused fundamental changes in the ways we work. Many people are now working from home and finding new ways to get work done, collaborate and perform in the face of plenty of new constraints. Dr Bower looks at a number of contributing factors to why people may be feeling exhausted and how you can take back control to help yourself. Whilst some of the points may seem like common sense they serve as a great reminder to take time out and focus on them to help ourselves during this turbulent time. The full article can be found here.
All MyGMPD members can find all the latest technical updates in this week’s Expat Academy Round-up white paper on the MyGMPD website. Don’t forget to completing a Learning Log and get closer to MyGMPD accreditation.
The Expat Academy team hope you have a restful weekend as the sunshine returns (hopefully). As always, if there is anything that we can help you with during this unprecedented time, please do let us know.