Good to be back in Singapore

En route to Singapore we questioned where the year had gone since we were last there for a face-to-face huddle?! Time flies when you’re having fun…. and last week time certainly flew. It was a whistle-stop trip but what a great few days bringing together our lovely APAC community.Expat Academy Good to be back in Singapore

With members joining us from various locations including Vietnam, Hong Kong, and even the UK, there were new connections being made and old ones rekindled. One of our members even joined us on their birthday (how privileged were we!).

Acknowledging the FACT that Global Mobility NEVER has enough TIME, we jumped straight into table introductions sharing with one another what we would all do ‘if we had more time’. It turns out we had a budding actress in the room, (to remain anonymous????) amongst others who would pursue their dreams. There was also a strong desire for many to invest time in personal development, whether it be through family, travel or work – good job we had a session on the GMPD L&D programme on the agenda!

The introductions were quickly followed by an insightful and interactive session with Lynette Laurence from AIRINC who introduced us to AI, API’s and automation as emerging technologies, explaining what they are and how they can be used to help GM programs. We explored the results from AIRINC’s 2023 Pulse Survey on Artificial Intelligence and which areas of mobility can benefit most from technology. It emerged that 48% of those in the room were not currently using AI at all in their mobility programmes in comparison to the pulse survey results where 71% were not currently using it.  Others shared how they are using AI to support policy writing and have chatbots in play to support remote working programmes.

While AI is not new, GM are now in a position where it is starting to be tested more so we can begin to see what really works. In terms of ‘the good’, administrative tasks have been identified as a key opportunity for AI in GM, but we all agreed AI will not help build relationships – don’t ever underestimate the human touch.

Whilst AI poses great benefits to the world of GM we can’t escape the challenges that come with it, which AIRINC summarised as ‘the bad (but not too ugly)’:

  • GM is excited about the opportunity for transformation – both for removing menial tasks and transforming the employee experience. However, there are concerns about quality and controls with the use of Gen AI when it comes to Immigration and Tax.
  • The cost of developing or customising AI tools may be prohibitive – especially for companies with complex mobility programs.
  • While AI can be very useful it still relies upon human input to provide valid output and while it learns from input it can take inputs in an unwelcome direction (think bias) and thus still needs monitoring to ensure alignment to true goals for proper output and support of functions.

There is a lot for GM to think about in relation to AI and how different companies, and cultures, can utilise it to add value to the business, whilst free up time for GM.  To view the full presentation from AIRINC take a look in the vault.

Next followed a great discussion around ‘remote working’ (RW). I think we all have to admit it’s here to stay! The resounding outcome was that there is a trend with more requests for remote working coming through to the business. Through discussions it was interesting to hear that where companies had previously just said ‘NO’ they are now changing their mindset and are considering ‘Work From Anywhere’ (WFA) policies. Others have recently implemented RW policies (however tracking continues to be a challenge) whilst another organisation has set up cross border taskforce in the hope this will help. Some are still considering their approach and taking it case by case.

Having replenished ourselves over lunch we were straight back into another huddle session, this time focussing on general Policy in response to members questions. As a global trend there are extensive policy reviews taking place with key objectives of offering both flexibility (resulting in an uplift in core flex policies) and identifying cost savings, whilst of course offering a great employee experience – where’s the magic wand?!

We then moved on to explore how GM can be a true business partner by bringing in practical solutions.  As a group we compiled our ‘top tips’:

  • Provide COLLABORATIVE solutions, acting as a facilitator
  • Become a professional storyteller – don’t’ just say ‘no’ (I love this concept!)
  • Be globally aware
  • Work with challenges in a positive way and demonstrate flexibility
  • Approach situations in a patient and people-centred manner
  • Listen, Understand and Present back

GM are not the police – we are business enablers!

We came up for air once again and following a brief break we had the birthday boy, Darren Grist, kindly give us an insight into life at RMIT University. The team is growing, the business demand for GM is growing and the need for strategy is growing! Darren and his team have done an amazing job in streamlining how they now operate, putting guidelines and processes in place – their challenge now is to change the mindset of their assignees who think they are going on ‘holiday’ (who doesn’t want to go on holiday and get paid for it?!).

Rachel Ang from Magrath Sheldrick hosted the last session of the day with some invaluable regional immigration insights and updates as well as a refresher on the new point-based Singapore COMPASS immigration framework that came into play 1st September 2023.  We couldn’t take notes fast enough!

Some of the key takeaways related to regional changes to immigration in Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam with a number of process simplifications and new visa options. In each country there is a focus on facilitating and streamlining entry for certain categories of foreign individuals while protecting the existing workforce and ensuring access to employment.

Rachel then provided a review of the Compass Framework which was implemented on 1 September 2023. She gave a practical update on recent developments and responding to audience questions advised on some of the ‘grey areas’ impacting companies when managing applications, particularly relating to the submission of supporting evidence.

To access the full slide deck presented by Magrath Sheldrick LLP take a look in the vault.

Drawing the day to a close and reflecting on the overwhelming desire to have more time for personal development, highlighted by the group in the morning, we ended the day with an overview of the MyGMPD accreditation programme . What better way to invest in your personal development than with a GM focused L&D programme which builds your professional confidence and leads to accreditation. Remember to make time for YOU!

Time is free, but its priceless, so hopefully we made the most of the time we had together at the huddle…. And breathe.

We look forward to bringing our lovely APAC community back together on the 23rd January 2024 when we will take a strategic look at the year ahead – For more information CLICK HERE.

Laura Mayo, Director, Expat Academy & MyGMPD

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