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Let’s Talk Remobilization: Moving Talent Post-COVID 06.16.2020 | Ellie Sullivan

Since the pandemic was announced, workforce mobility has changed dramatically. 

Global Mobility leaders have had to quickly pivot from full speed ahead at the beginning of the year to managing shelter in place challenges, quarantines, travel restrictions and lockdowns and, now, reopening plans.

In our most recent webinar, two corporate mobility leaders shared what they’ve learned so far and what they’re planning to ensure that their organizations can thrive in the “next” normal. Tessa Boone of Ford Motor Company and Evelyn Carvacho of Teck helped us explore the 10 strategies outlined in our latest whitepaper: Relocation Rebound.

The strategies they described included “triaging” current/in process moves to ensure the health and safety of their mobile workforce. Although slightly different approaches, both companies completed exhaustive assessments of all moves in process and evaluated subsequent moves on a case by case basis to ensure the best course of action and cost-effective solutions. Some assignments were extended with additional support while other assignees were repatriated or shifted to commuters, short term assignments or remote work.

Despite significant differences in locations, volume and other characteristics, these two experts predict that activity will return in a staggered fashion allowing for the most effective employee experience possible.

One topic we discussed gaining traction post-Covid is the concept of virtual assignments, defined as an arrangement in which the employee lives in one country but performs their job remotely in another country. With concerns surrounding PE risk, payroll tax, immigration and transfer pricing, our panel of experts do not foresee implementing this kind of assignment going forward.

While senior leadership has been keenly focused on the role of the mobile workforce, today there is a heightened sense of responsibility around duty of care and compliance.

In fact, Tessa provided insights into a new program Ford is introducing to support product launch teams: business travelers who will be managed through global mobility using a new tracking capability to ensure more effective communication and tax and visa compliance. While Evelyn expects an increase in short term assignments at Teck, her bigger concern is employee reluctance to relocate to “hot spots” still reeling from the pandemic. Her focus is to ensure that policies and programs remain competitive.

Both experts found it reassuring to know that they were implementing many of the strategies recommended in our whitepaper. Asked if there were any silver linings from the pandemic (beyond saving on dry cleaning bills), our experts pointed to the opportunities to raise awareness of the global mobility function and accelerate the adoption of recommendations, including pursuing process simplification, greater compliance and focusing on the employee experience. With a newfound seat at the table, they are well positioned to better support their respective businesses with creative, agile solutions.

As countries and companies begin the slow process of implementing reopening plans, the next several weeks and months will be a crucial period to ensure that mobility is supporting those plans and that businesses will have the talent they need, where they need it. Give a listen to the recorded webinar and request your copy of Relocation Rebound to see which strategies you need to implement.

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Written by Ellie Sullivan

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Ellie Sullivan, SCRP, SGMS-T, has over 30 years of experience overseeing critical mobility advisory initiatives, including policy benchmarking, proprietary research and tracking global trends and best practices. She is also the creator of our proprietary Optimization Lab format, which brings together Weichert SMEs and client stakeholders for day-long workshops to analyze current program challenges, identify solutions and create a road map to the ideal future state.

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