4. In-country considerations
Once borders open, and the picture around visas, work permits and taxation becomes clear, and business travel and mobility effectively “reboot”, another set of challenges comes to the fore – practical matters arising from being in any given country.
Concerns around health and safety are going to be uppermost – for instance, will health insurance be available for migrant workers and, if so, will there be any exclusions.
Critically, does the country have rules in place around social distancing, group gatherings and travelling on public transport, for instance, and what are the penalties for non-adherence? As demonstrated by the previous Singapore example, these can be significant.
And it’s important to note that any in-country rules may change on a regular basis and will need to be tracked and communicated to ensure that people are adequately safeguarded. This may actually impact business travelers more than SNEs. “The shorter a time someone is going to be in a country at a time of crisis, the more exposed they are,” says Farazi. “That’s because things are going to change. If new rules are introduced overnight, travelers may be caught out. Those who are there long-term won’t be as adversely affected.”
There are multiple other considerations that may well shape the decision-making process regarding a mobility program. Again, businesses will need to stay on top of these and ensure they are communicated clearly and regularly with employees.
For example, does the country have “track and trace” technology in place? If so, then people need to be aware of this, because failure to have an appropriate app could result in penalties, such as restrictions on travel. For longer-term assignments, where whole families move, are there issues around schooling that could have an impact? That said, it may well be expected that new assignments of that type may be considerably reduced for the foreseeable future.
Similarly, decisions will need to be made around accommodations – should people be put into company apartments rather than hotels when on an extended stay, because of the reduced interaction with other people.
Monitoring every single change in every country is a considerable challenge, and one that most companies would struggle to implement. As such, Ernst and Young LLP has entered an alliance with WorldAware, a leading provider of intelligence-driven integrated risk management solutions. This enables the delivery of critical trip data, alerts and regulations so that business travelers are safeguarded and organizations understand travel-related compliance during and after the pandemic.
5. The opportunity to transform the global mobility program
It is widely accepted that business travel and mobility will never look the same again post-pandemic. The results from the Now, Next and Beyond: Global Mobility’s Response to COVID-19 report show how significantly the landscape is expected to shift.
Crucially, more than four in five respondents (82%) anticipate a moderate to significant increase in the use of virtual work, where assignees don’t physically relocate but complete the objectives of the foreign assignment for the host location from their country of employment.