Workforce Mobility 2021: Moving Talent in a VUCA World (Part 3) 02.14.2021 | Avrom Goldberg

VUCA mobility

In the post-COVID world, corporate global talent mobility managers worldwide are facing an amplified state of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity).

In the final post of this three-part series (you can check out part one here and part two here), we examine another question at the forefront of these managers’ minds:

Are virtual assignments a viable option going forward?

Despite virtual assignments being the hot topic in global mobility right now, very few companies have actually developed a virtual assignment policy; a recent PwC study finds that only 9 percent have such a policy in place.

This study also found that of those companies already deploying or planning to deploy virtual assignments, 61 percent expect them to account for less than 10 percent of their overall assignment activity, while 9 percent expect them to account for more than 50 percent.

This is largely due to the fact that virtual assignments are deceptively complex and can carry significant disadvantages. Early on in the pandemic, many companies experienced accidental virtual assignments as a result of home leaves, travel bans and quarantine restrictions coalescing to forestall traditional assignments. However, a COVID-enforced restriction on movement cannot in its own right translate into an effective foundation for a policy framework.

To help better understand and evaluate the many tax, immigration, employment and payroll challenges involved in virtual assignments, Weichert has prepared an informative checklist for your reference.

File under Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

Looking Ahead
The global economy has taken a beating in 2020, with the latest OECD data indicating that worldwide GDP declined by some 4.5 percent. There has been a great variance in the economic impact of the pandemic on individual countries and regions. The EU as a whole declined by almost 8 percent with countries like the Italy and UK down more than 10 percent. India and Mexico both declined by more than 10 percent. The U.S. is set to come in under the global average for decline at around 3.8 percent. China, on the other hand, will end up having grown marginally by around 1.5 percent.

As countries and companies worldwide plan for their economic revival, there has been much discussion about COVID-induced economic nationalism taking hold and the rethinking and realigning of global supply chains to bring these (closer to) home as a result of the pandemic. However, as the pandemic eases, the strategic priority for most countries will likely be the full-scale restoration and normalization of global trade and global economic engagement.

The roll out of vaccination programs worldwide will, over time, lead to the progressive restoration of more options for business travel. But the fight to contain and overcome COVID will likely ensure a state of VUCA for the balance of this year.

Going forward, global businesses will be more reliant than ever on trusted partnerships with external global mobility providers who have the depth of expertise, flexibility of service delivery and demonstrated financial and organizational strength and stability to mitigate VUCA on behalf of their clients. Working together, we can weather the COVID storm.

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Written by Avrom Goldberg

A widely-recognized expert on global talent mobility, Avrom is the Senior Vice President, Global Client Services for the EMEA, APAC and LATAM regions. He has written extensively on Asia Pacific mobility trends and best practices for such publications as China Staff magazine, HRM China, Human Capital Hong Kong, Bo Le Journal for Strategic Management, Mobility magazine and HR World. Avrom was twice distinguished by The Forum for Expatriate Management, having won the EMMA award for “Outstanding Contribution to APAC Global Mobility” and “Global Mobility Professional of the Year.”

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