A colleague in New York, another in Stockholm and a third in Tokyo… Is this like your daily work life?
Even if this way of working doesn’t seem familiar to you yet, it could happen very soon. Globalization has led businesses to expand across the globe. The internet, new technologies and the increasing accessibility of travel make us all more connected than ever. And with the growing popularity of remote work since the COVID-19 crisis, teams have become even more geographically distributed.
Businesses today increasingly require speed and flexibility, as they often coordinate team members in different locations. They are increasingly facing issues related to remote work, business travel and employee relocations.
All of this has led to a greater need for global mobility management.
What is Global Mobility Management (GMM)?
Global mobility management refers to a company’s ability to move its workforce seamlessly and efficiently around the world. This may relate to temporary business travel or permanent employee relocations and international assignments.
The relocation process is far from simple, especially when it comes to permanent expatriation. This involves many complexities around visas, integration, taxes, etc.
Yet there are many good reasons to move employees around the world. Different countries have different markets, unique areas of expertise, and opportunities for business growth. And offering employees the option of expatriation can improve the employee experience, encouraging them to grow their careers within the company.
That’s why many companies have developed global mobility programs to support their mobile workforce.
What types of companies are concerned by the management of global mobility?
When you think of global mobility management, you might think of large multinational corporations with offices around the world. These types of companies certainly need GMM, but today they are not the only companies facing global talent mobility.
Due to the rise of remote working and the movement of “digital nomads”, an increasing number of employees are curious about going abroad. These employees can work for any type of company, from a startup or small business to a large corporation.
As soon as an employee decides they would like to work abroad, their employer can suddenly find themselves grappling with the complexities of international trade. Global mobility management is relevant for almost any business with a remote workforce.
Who are the actors involved in the management of global mobility?
Any number of stakeholders can be involved in global mobility management – much depends on the size and nature of the organization.
In a small business, international mobility management responsibilities may fall to HR teams, legal professionals, or even the CEO. On the other hand, a large company may have specialized staff working on international mobility management and expatriation, especially if it frequently transfers a large number of people on assignment between offices.
What are the main challenges of managing a mobile global workforce?
If your workforce is going global, you may need to think about challenges such as:
- Culture shock: How will mobile employees adapt to moving to another country? What kinds of services should you provide to help them integrate? What if an employee is having trouble adjusting to the new place? How can you support him?
- Local laws: Which countries do your employees move to? Do these countries have any laws, rules or regulations that could impact your business?
- Visas: Will you need to be involved in obtaining a visa or residence permit for your employees? Will they need sponsorship, and how much will it cost?
- Taxes: Will starting operations in a new jurisdiction have tax implications for your business?
If you’re new to international mobility management, your company may need help in some or all of these areas. You may need to hire legal experts, immigration experts, human resource experts, or other global mobility professionals to help you. You can also invest in specialized tools to make the process easier.
What to Consider When Managing Employee Moves
Here are the main factors to keep in mind when developing your global mobility policies:
Compensation may vary significantly depending on market conditions in different countries and regions. An average salary in Silicon Valley may be a high salary in Minnesota, Marseille or Mumbai, for example.
Many companies adjust their pay rates based on location and cost of living. 67% of employees expect their compensation to reflect their location, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
But compensation structures must be fair, transparent and consistent with the performance and responsibilities of employees, wherever they are. In some cases, it may make sense to keep remuneration constant, regardless of geographic location (for example, if the relocation is temporary).
When managing an international relocation, companies often have to deal with cross-border visa issues. If the moving employee needs a visa, the organization will need to allocate budget and resources to help them obtain one. This may involve:
- Pay the visa fee
- Fill out sponsorship forms
- Grant the employee time off to travel to the relevant immigration office or embassy and arrange for an interpreter if needed
- Retain an immigration lawyer
Relocation is a complicated and often expensive process. When sending an employee on a short-term assignment or permanent move, organizations should be prepared to offer support with:
- physical movement: travel and transport goods
- Consider using business travel software like TravelPerk to manage reservations and find deals on transportation and accommodation
- Administrative procedures: opening a bank account, registering with local government, transferring driver’s licenses, getting health care, and more.
- Family transitions: find a school or provide childcare for employees
Integration and culture
Moving to a new place is often difficult. In the case of international employees, cultural integration can be a significant challenge. To ensure a successful relocation, international mobility management professionals should consider providing:
- Language learning courses
- Host country learning resources and tips
- Resources and/or allowances to join activities and groups and make new friends
Before moving employees to a new location, make sure your organization has considered:
- Local labor laws: Are there any criteria that need to be met to hire people on the new site? Are there any specific requirements regarding labor rights, dismissal, vacations, etc. ?
- Information Laws: Does the new jurisdiction have privacy restrictions in place, such as GDPR? Are there laws controlling how information is shared?
- Business Law : If you have not yet registered your business in the new jurisdiction, how can you do so?
- Tax laws: Will you be subject to new tax laws and treaties by sending your employees to work abroad? How will this affect your business?
Keep in mind that even sending a single employee to work abroad for a few months can be considered “doing business” or “opening an office” in a new country.
If you are primarily transferring employees to work overseas in your existing offices, your organization likely already has cybersecurity procedures in place.
However, if you are sending employees overseas to work remotely, you will want to have cybersecurity policies in place so that your company information is protected. Keep in mind that different countries have different standards regarding internet usage and privacy.
Finally, you’ll want to consider communication. You will need to stay in touch with employees throughout the relocation process, which may involve coordinating with multiple people across multiple time zones. Software tools can help you with these tasks, so you can manage your global mobility strategy in an organized way.
Global mobility management software: how can it help you?
Although global mobility creates many challenges, there are many mobility tools and solutions you can use to make the process easier. Specialized GMM software can greatly facilitate overall talent management by allowing you to:
- Connect with service providers
- Keep track of important data
- Make cost and salary projections
- Manage payroll, tax and immigration workflows
- Administer your resettlement policies
- Create data visualizations and reports
How can TravelPerk help your business with global mobility?
TravelPerk is business travel software that will help you easily make reservations in one place, communicate with travelers in real time, and manage all aspects of the travel process. You can use it to find exclusive deals and discounts, track travelers in emergencies and help them with 24/7 customer service, ensure compliance with built-in travel policies, and manage expenses.
Along with global mobility management software, business travel software can also be a crucial tool during the relocation process.
To learn more about how TravelPerk can help global mobility managers with business travel, book a free demo for more information and to see the software in action.
Start saving money on business travel for your company today!
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