Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager – Sensitive Subjects

by Gina Tonic

Expat Academy Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager - Sensitive Subjects

Dear Diary,

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease the wheels have been put in motion for one of our senior assignees to repatriate back to the US. Whilst the preparations have been time consuming, as the processes have changed so much on a standard relocation due to COVID restrictions, there wasn’t anything in our relocation discussions with him that kicked off my sixth sense that something could be wrong.

Don’t free the spirit.

The team initiated the relevant vendors, established clarity on potential relocation timelines and the repatriation process got underway. However, this week I received a call from the shippers. They had arrived to do the packing and were immediately notified that a bird cage in his living room had a “spirit” living in it and they were NOT to open the door to the cage in case the spirit got away!!!

Even for experienced shippers, I could tell from our conversation that packing a ‘spirit’ was an unusual request and not one that fitted in their standard process and procedures! I asked them to go with what he requested but needless to say l was concerned for his mental state.

Biosecurity issues.

The following day raised even more concerns when they called to say he also had a large “tree log” that he wanted a bespoke packing crate made for. Apparently, this “tree log” was a bug infested tree trunk!!! We had to explain to the assignee that the bespoke packing crate could not be authorised as upon arrival the shipment would need to be compliant with local biosecurity requirements, to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases, and potentially this could be an issue. I know this is an issue in certain countries. Whether that is in fact the case for the US I am not entirely sure, but it was enough to persuade the assignee the “tree log” was going to need to stay in the host location.

The right balance

Sometimes in dealing with these situations it is hard to get the right balance between the organisation’s duty of care to the assignee – knowing when and how to step in to offer help and when to be respectful of the assignee’s personal life. I believe the rest of the items are now packed and on their way back to the US as I have heard no more.

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