The Future of Global Mobility: Moving Beyond Traditional Frameworks

In today’s interconnected world, the concept of global mobility has moved beyond its traditional boundaries. In this article, we’re going to delve into the complexities of global mobility and the opportunities it presents for both organizations and employees alike.

  1. Reinvention Of Global Mobility Program: Evolution and Innovation
  2. The Merging Of Business Travel And Global Mobility
  3. Key Components of a Global Mobility Program
  4. Strategic Benefits of Global Mobility
  5. The Employee Perspective: Navigating Your Global Mobility Journey
  6. The Employer Perspective: Maximizing the Benefits of Global Mobility
  7. The HR Perspective: Managing Global Mobility Programs
  8. Challenges and Solutions in Global Mobility
  9. Predictions For The Future of Global Mobility

Reinvention Of Global Mobility Program: Evolution and Innovation

Global mobility programs have undergone a remarkable transformation over the years, propelled by technological advancements and changing workforce dynamics. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized how organizations approach talent management and relocation. 

With AI-powered analytics, companies can now make data-driven decisions, streamline processes, and enhance the overall employee experience.

The Merging Of Business Travel And Global Mobility

The rise of remote work has opened up new possibilities for global mobility. 

Organizations are reimagining traditional relocation models, allowing employees to work from anywhere (within reason) while still contributing to the company’s success. 

This flexibility not only boosts productivity but also promotes a healthier work-life balance as witnessed by the success of both Spotify’s work from anywhere programme and Airbnb’s Live & Work Anywhere programme.

In some cases, there is a fusion of both global mobility and business travel to cater for these new work models and travel profiles, meaning companies are having to reflect deeply on where business travel and global mobility functions sit within their organizations.

So what does this all mean for global mobility, and what are the basics of getting a global mobility programme right?

Key Components of a Global Mobility Program

The tactical foundation of a successful global mobility programme rests on four pillars:

  • Immigration and Legal Compliance: Navigating the legalities of international assignments is paramount.  Getting immigration wrong can cause serious consequences including having people put into jail and other penalties/fines.
  • Tax Considerations and Compliance:  Tax implications can vary greatly depending on location and assignment duration with permanent establishment, social security, payroll tax and other tax risks vital to be considered. Did you know for example that some countries offer tax breaks for skilled foreign workers (e.g. 30% ruling in the Netherlands)?  A well-structured program ensures both employee and employer stay compliant.
  • Cultural Training and Adaptation: Did you know that in some countries, a simple handshake can be considered disrespectful?  Or that in Bulgaria, nodding your head up and down means no?  Many expat programmes fail due to a lack of cultural awareness, for the expert (or very often their partner) so having an understanding of the power of cultural awareness is vital for the success of any global mobility programme.  Effective programmes go beyond language lessons, equipping employees with the knowledge and skills to thrive in their new environment.  
  • Talent Mobility Redesigned: Global mobility functions are being asked to use their skills in talent assignment and deployment in new ways.  One example is the increasing popularity of talent marketplaces and the ability of a high performing global mobility function to help the business get access to the right talent, at the right time, in the right place.  


Strategic Benefits of Global Mobility

It sounds obvious, but when done right, a Global Mobility program can transform a business beyond the traditional boundaries of just assignments.  Spotify for example had a 15% reduction in employee attrition and increased diversity & inclusion when they launched their work from anywhere programme.

At a very high level, there are three key strategic benefits to having a global mobility programme:

  1. Access to a Global Talent Pool: By facilitating international assignments, companies can tap into a much wider pool of qualified candidates. This isn’t just about finding talent abroad; it also allows your existing employees with diverse skill sets and experiences to contribute on a global scale. This fosters a more competitive edge in the marketplace.
  2. Enhanced Innovation and Problem-Solving: Global mobility programs cultivate a workforce with a rich tapestry of cultural perspectives.  This diversity of thought can lead to more creative solutions and a stronger ability to navigate complex challenges in the global marketplace.
  3. Leadership Pipeline Development: International assignments can be a fantastic way to groom future leaders within your organization.  These experiences broaden employees’ horizons, hone their leadership skills, and give them firsthand exposure to the intricacies of operating in different cultural and business environments. This prepares them to take on senior positions within the company.

The Employee Perspective: Navigating Your Global Mobility Journey

How should employees look at a global mobility programme?

So much depends on how well the global mobility leadership is able to communicate the value of global mobility to a wider audience.

If done well, employees embarking on a global mobility journey will understand their roles and responsibilities for any short or long-term assignment. They’ll be well prepared for the cultural and professional adjustments which can help ease the transition and ensure a smoother integration into their new environment. Accessing support and resources from their global mobility team can also facilitate a positive experience abroad.


The Employer Perspective: Maximizing the Benefits of Global Mobility

Employers play a critical role in maximizing the benefits of global mobility for both their employees and the organization as a whole. Developing effective strategies, ensuring legal and tax compliance, and prioritizing employee experience are key pillars of success. This goes to the heart of why you have a global mobility function in the first place.

The HR Perspective: Managing Global Mobility Programs

HR departments play a more important role in helping global mobility teams reach their full potential by helping them come out of the shadows and become a strategic partner of the business.  In general, global mobility teams would typically report to HR leaders, specifically Compensation & Benefits (although this does vary by organization).  

By understanding the strategic value of global mobility programmes, HR professionals can navigate the complexities of international talent management with confidence, including new operating models such as Employers of Record. 

Challenges and Solutions in Global Mobility

Every journey has its hurdles, and Global Mobility is no exception.  There are so many different challenges to navigate, it is hard to encapsulate all of them, however the 3 that come up very frequently include:

  • Immigration Complexities: Immigration is a major challenge, especially as many companies are becoming ever stricter on their borders.  This, combined with long delays getting immigration appointments, makes life tricky for global mobility leaders.  This is why partnering with experienced relocation specialists to navigate the ever-changing world of immigration regulations is non-negotiable.
  • Managing Costs and Budgeting:  Every function in any organization has the continuous challenge to deliver cost savings and global mobility is no different.  As a result, it is vital to leverage new technologies (such as emerging compliance technologies or GenAI platforms), which if used in the right way can deliver material cost and time savings. Linked to this, it’s a no-brainer to aim to develop a comprehensive budget that considers all aspects of international assignments and work from anywhere requests.  It is also important at this stage to understand whether costs will be kept centrally or recharged out to the business, and if so, what the approval process for this will look like.
  • Employee Wellbeing and Support Systems: It is becoming increasingly important to make sure that leaders prioritize employee well-being with comprehensive support systems, from pre-departure counseling to ongoing assistance with relocation and settling in.

Predictions For The Future of Global Mobility

Looking ahead, there are a number of predictions poised to reshape the global mobility landscape by 2030 (hat tip to Olivier Meier who touched on some of these global mobility trends). 

First, organizations will increasingly rely on talent marketplaces to source and deploy talent globally. 

Second, the proliferation of remote work will offer new opportunities for flexibility and collaboration with workations becoming ever more popular. 

Finally, organizations will need to become more agile in leveraging technology, including AI and automation, to drive efficiency and innovation.

In conclusion, global mobility is not just a trend but a strategic imperative for organizations looking to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. By embracing change, fostering inclusivity, and leveraging technology, companies can unlock the full potential of their global workforce and drive sustainable growth in the years to come.



John Lee Co-founder Work From Anywhere

John Lee

John is Co-founder of Work From Anywhere, a platform to help companies execute a work from anywhere strategy.  John is a Chartered Accountant who speaks 6 languages and was previously the senior finance leader of a €4 billion division of FTSE-listed CRH Plc.  John and his family are passionate about travelling and his eldest daughter, Rosa, while only 5 years old has already travelled to 25 different countries.


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