Global Mobility in the Tech sector: resilience to the COVID-19 storm
09 February 2021
Working across borders has long been a critical factor for technology companies. While the sector is weathering the COVID-19 storm, the focus is now starting to return to what global mobility will look like for the sector in the coming months, as we start to see the vaccine rollout and potentially a gradual ‘return to normal’.
When we surveyed over 250 people leaders last year about the impact of COVID-19, almost a third of companies told us they were expecting the outbreak to have a fundamental impact on the need for international moves in their organisation and how workforce mobility is viewed. Vaccines will be central to the ‘unlocking mobility’ strategy for organisations and it’s important for companies to stay informed of evolving developments as they consider re-shape their mobility strategy in light of this impact.
Vaccinations and international travel are not a new partnership, the most common being the yellow fever vaccination. Recently Greece has proposed that all EU member states should adopt an EU-wide COVID-19 vaccination certificate, though whether the EU will adopt such an approach has yet to be seen. What is highly likely is that ‘health passports’ will be a tool utilised by airlines and countries alike in order to facilitate travel, with IATA* (which represents over 80% of global air traffic), also confirming its support for such passports. However, there are ethical concerns around personal data security, given third-party access to travellers’ health information. Linking freedom of movement with vaccination will inevitably impact mobility trends, as those who receive the vaccine will potentially be afforded greater travel options.
Organisations with a presence in countries with established travel corridor agreements and access to vaccines will be best positioned to mobilise employees. With the tech sector typically having hubs in these locations - for example, Singapore, India, Dublin - they are likely to benefit. Assessing current locations, distribution of the workforce and requirements for the future should be a priority for tech companies at this stage to ensure they can take advantage of this.
Businesses that will continue to do well during and post pandemic are those that are agile, adapt quickly and thrive on disruption and innovation - traits that define tech companies. Whilst longer-term trends remain difficult to predict, traditional mobility in 2021 is unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, though we will likely continue to see a rise in newer types of mobility, including global remote workers.
A number of uncertainties remain in the short-term including global access to vaccines; whether countries and airlines will require travellers to be vaccinated, and the approach companies will take to employees who choose not to get vaccinated. What is more certain, is that the tech sector will continue to grow and adapt. Technology companies will want to and hopefully, be able to, take advantage of this faster than most, if they have the right strategy and approach to global mobility in place.
Find out more about how COVID-19 has impacted global mobility and our predictions for the future.
Co-authored by Lee Pearce [email protected] and Rehana Earle [email protected]
*(the International Air Transport Association)
**World Health Organisation