March Symposium & Club 100 Huddles

Expat Academy March Symposium & Club 100 Huddles With the sun shining, it felt good to be back on the platform and heading into London for the Symposium and Club 100 Huddles in person this week. With busy agendas lined up, the EA team were looking forward to face-to-face conversations once again. With so much catching up to do it as people arrived, it wasn’t surprising that the agendas kicked off late!

For the first session, Iain McCluskey from PwC (soon to be Vialto Partners) looked at the expected impact on mobility trends in the foreseeable future. As always, Iain delivered some great insights into how the current situation will impact Global Mobility. Firstly, he recapped on his, previously presented, prediction snake and how many of those predictions had come to fruition.

Iain reviewed the instability in Central and Eastern Europe and the impact on businesses. Organisations seem to be dealing with the Russian parts of their business in one of three ways:-

  • By cutting the ‘apron strings’ to the Russian business, so the Russian business is stand alone.
  • Stopping production in Russia and hoping that it can be restarted once the current conflict is over.
  • Pulling out of Russia altogether.

There are still issues with paying assignees and local employees in Russia as well as challenges such as Russians leaving Russia and not having the relevant COVID vaccination for the country they are going to.

It was interesting to understand more about how much of a role Russia and Ukraine play in the global economy and exactly how harsh the sanctions were, in relation to those in place for countries like Iran, North Korea, Cuba etc.

Iain went on to talk about the impact of high inflation and low growth, also being referred to commonly in the media as stagflation. It will mean that some assignees will soon be requesting COLA reviews and Global Mobility may need to offer interim updates. It might even go as far as assignees or employees being asked to be paid in Cryptocurrency as some currencies don’t provide enough stability.

Whilst the world is currently becoming increasingly unstable it is important for Global Mobility to put contingency plans in place to be able to move assignees at short notice. It was interesting to understand that remote work may once again be in the spotlight but this time as an answer to business agility and continuity in areas of conflict. Iain highlighted that in these challenging times it’s important for Global Mobility not to be dogmatic about policy.

However, it was not all doom and gloom. Iain rounded of his session by highlighting that as a result of the current situation the United Kingdom was less isolated than it was following Brexit as there were better relations with the EU & NATO as they were key allies now in tackling the current situation.

Huddle sessions in both networks discussed the issues in Ukraine and Russia and how our members were tackling the challenges arising. Whilst there were no complete solutions that could be rolled out, it was clear that organisations were supporting employees and assignees as best as they could but much of the support was agreed on a case-by-case basis. Pay in Russia was particularly difficult and there was the duty of care element as to whether local employees should be compensated as the rouble rapidly depreciated.

There were additional conversations about opening offices in new location and long term employees wishing to remain in the home country pension scheme whilst moving on Local Plus terms to new locations. In addition, there were conversations about raising a business case for using technology (rather than excel spreadsheets) and how important being able to provide meaningful and accurate data analytics in time and cost savings really makes a difference to the business case. Technology solutions also provided a great way to help measure vendor performance and was an easier way to manage diverse policies.

The Symposium Huddle saw a corporate update from Tanya Thornber, Brown-Forman on her experiences as an international assignee. It was fascinating to hear about the highs and lows from her assignments to the US, Mexico, Switzerland and how, to a single person on assignment, pet relocation support is as essential as dependent flights for those travelling with dependents.

Tanya also highlighted how difficult it can be for assignees who don’t have family or religious orientation to be able to quickly build a network in the host location. Cost free support such as having a mentor proved to be really valuable.

The Club 100 Huddle saw a corporate update from Carla Campbell-Smith from Farfetch on their temporary remote work policy and their permanent remote work policy. Whilst some regions such as China, Japan and the US did not want to offer this policy it had gone down well in other locations. Carla is working on putting in place a Global Employment Company (GEC) to assist with the permanent remote work policy. For those looking to permanently work remotely Farfetch had the following eligibility criteria:-

  • right to work (Nomad visas being offered by certain countries was also an option that some employees were hoping to capitalise on)
  • their performance rating
  • employed at Farfetch for at least a year
  • want to work remotely for at least 18 months
  • the business function has the budget to support them.

The final session of the day gave a hands on opportunity for those attending to discuss building the Global Mobility Dream Team whilst working together on building the tallest tower to put the team ‘bunnies’ (Lindt Easter bunnies) in. It was interesting to hear discussions around hiring the best people for the job even if they are ambitious and may not stay for as long as you would like. It was also important that they were technically competent but were able to work independently. When tackling issues it was important for the team to be able to divide and conquer. In terms of avoiding mistakes one team asked her new team members not to ‘guess’ an answer or over promise. If in doubt or unsure it was better to say to the assignee or line manager that they would get back to them rather than give them the wrong information. There was also discussion that it couldn’t all be about work and social activities benefit the team in the long term. Especially as it has been shown as a key way to develop trust within the team.

It was a great opportunity this week to catch up with our members and the chance to share the challenges being faced. To ensure you have a place at the next Huddle on 21st June 2022 you can register here.

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