Innovation, transformation and opportunity - the landscape of modern mobility

Global nomad. Remote worker. Talent swap. To some, they might just be nonsensical word pairings. But actually, they’re a snapshot of the increasingly diverse types of mobility used by organisations to move people around the world, to deliver business growth and to attract and retain a strong pipeline of talent. We’ve helpfully translated these terms for you below:

  • Global nomads – the most extreme demonstration of a global mind-set, these individuals have no specific ‘home’ country; instead they move to wherever the business needs them to carry out their role and are constantly on the move
  • Remote workers – These are the mobility workers that you didn’t even realise were mobile. Whether working from home and/or from another country outside their home country of employment, they raise a number of risk and compliance implications
  • Talent swap – A fluid ‘swap’ of talent between different countries to promote personal development, cultivate a group culture and strengthen a global mindset

In my 6 years as leader of our UK Global Mobility practice, I’ve seen mobility move steadily up the boardroom agenda as a key enabler in helping businesses achieve their strategic goals. But mobility has never been quite as important as it is today… the days of viewing your mobility programme as simply a way to move talent from A to B are definitely over.

Instead, driven by the rising war for talent and the race to maximise growth in emerging markets, organisations are adapting and developing new purposes for mobility. From attracting and retaining in-demand talent and developing a truly global mind-set in the leaders of tomorrow, to exploring new and exciting opportunities in fast-growing markets, mobility is now a key strategic business tool. And the best organisations will be capitalising on this and making the most of the opportunities a more strategic approach to mobility can create.

We’re starting to see new forms of mobility evolve to address business challenges. Take the issue of moving talent from East to West, for example. Traditionally it’s been made tricky because of rigid policies, developed primarily for senior outbound moves from the headquartered location. But what we’re seeing now is an increase in short-term assignments, developmental moves and packages being differentiated based on the purpose of the move.

So does this mean that the traditional, tax-equalised assignments are now dead? Not quite, but these older-style moves now make up just a proportion of the mobility offering that our clients are bringing to the table.

And with new and innovative uses of mobility comes a careful balancing act - how do you successfully move more people, in different ways, to meet business needs but at the same time make sure that you’re providing the operational excellence the business expects and are globally compliant in an increasingly complex regulatory environment?

This challenge isn’t something HR and mobility functions should be afraid of. Nor is it something that can be done in isolation – getting closer to the business will be key. It’s a great chance to show the integral role mobility can play in helping your organisation to grow in this fast paced global economy. But it’s important to move quickly. By shifting focus and being open to change, companies can foster a competitive edge - and elevate the brand and value of the talent mobility programme, across the organisation. 

We’ll talk more about some tips on how to tackle the challenges that modern mobility brings head on. Keep an eye out for the launch of our latest Modern Mobility thought leadership over the next few weeks.

Carol Stubbings | Partner
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