As the spread of COVID-19 continues to raise considerable health concerns around the globe, business and society in general finds itself in uncharted waters. For some industries, business has come to a grinding halt, while others are doing their best to stay afloat, keep their employees on the payroll, and remain operational.
Although the full impact of this pandemic is yet to be known, it is certainly creating significant changes and challenges within the realm of global mobility.
For most businesses, this is crisis management in its most basic sense. So, it’s important to remember that you are not in this alone; we are all in this together. And, how we openly communicate and navigate these waters together, will make all the difference in our ability to come up with unprecedented solutions during such unprecedented times.
So, how is this pandemic impacting global mobility?
The impact of this pandemic on global mobility has been immediate and far reaching. In most cases, companies have reduced their relocation volumes across the board, while for others it might be more location-specific or project-specific. For others, it has become necessary to slow the timeline for certain relocations, while putting a hold on others, and completely cancelling others altogether. Companies are generally more focused on the critical relocations that they deem necessary for their operations to continue to function. Many others might just have to wait.
All in all, international relocations have been more impacted thus far than domestic ones. This is largely due to the country-to-country travel restrictions that many governments have put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
As for employees and their families that are currently on assignment in countries around the world, many companies have had to impose both voluntary and mandatory evacuations, depending on location. This has in turn created its own challenges in bringing people back home, and the need to mitigate the risk of further exposure to the virus. For some, the pack up and removal of household goods in preparation for shipment has been done without the employee and family present.
So, companies are relying on their suppliers more heavily than ever before, and expecting their partners to work together in bringing those employees and families home safely.
Worldwide ERC has been doing an excellent job of keeping its members well informed during this crisis. A great deal of up-to-the-minute information can be found on their website via the following link: https://www.worldwideerc.org/coronavirus.
Emotional impact on employees and family
The gravity of the entire situation is also taking an emotional toll on employees and families. They are experiencing much stress and anxiety over everything from their covering their basic household needs, to health, and job security.
If their assignment or relocation is cancelled or they are brought home early, what impact will that have on them professionally and financially? There is obviously much fear surrounding the possibility of reduced pay and hours, furloughs, and especially layoffs. We are already seeing a number of layoffs within the Energy Sector, for example.
Thus, it is important for us all to be cognizant of what other people are going through, both emotionally and physically at this time.
And for those in charge of talent mobility, it’s important to evaluate whether people should really be relocating right now. Look at the pros and cons for each scenario. For instance, if an employee or their spouse or partner is pregnant, you might want to reconsider relocating them at this time.
Although we are all doing our best to continue to conduct business and support our employees and clients, it is definitely based on some form of the so-called, “new normal.”
Creating and adjusting to the “new normal”
At this time, many questions are being asked, for which there are no easy answers. Perhaps the most perplexing question of all is: “What does the ‘new normal’ look like?” Everyone keeps talking about this, but no one is really 100 percent sure what the far-reaching implications will be. What we do know, is that there will be a lot of changes in the ways that people interact with one another, and how business and global mobility will operate. Some changes might only be temporary, but others will likely be long-lasting.
Right now, we are all practicing social distancing, leveraging technology, and creating new work-from-home environments, while trying to balance our business and family responsibilities. So, flexibility is a big part of the new normal, as many employees are forced to juggle their jobs along with daycare and homeschooling.
In the world of global mobility, what will the new normal look like? Will companies continue with their current mobility programs and policies, or will they take this opportunity to re-evaluate them and make changes? Will their relocation volume return to pre-COVID-19 levels, or will it taper off as companies implement more work-from-home strategies utilizing technology? What do the next 30, 90, 120 days look like?
These are all very important questions, that we have to continue to talk about and answer together.
Answering the call
At VERSA, we are all about answering the call, and leading and embracing this new normal. We are staying abreast of all new developments as it relates to this crisis, and working closely with our clients, partners, and talking with other industry leaders to develop new better and best practices.
Yes, companies like VERSA are leaning on technology in more ways than ever before to keep our internal teams connected and engaged with one another, while continuing to provide both advice and services to our clients. We know that technology will continue to play a major role in mobility moving forward, and we will see more virtual meetings and virtual collaboration as a means of connecting the global workforce.
We believe that the current situation gives us the opportunity to be even better partners to our clients, and to create better synergy with our service partners. This is a time for companies to really rely on their relocation providers and to lean on their capabilities, and to see how they truly perform under new pressures.
Communication is the key component
Communication and having informed discussions are the key component to successfully navigating our way through this crisis together.
Companies need to make sure that they are aware of any new systems and/or protocol that their providers have put in place as a health or safety precaution. And, although everyone is working within the guidelines of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and following the directives of their national, state, and local governmental authorities, the lines of communication have to be actively flowing between clients and providers. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
In many ways, the work-from-home aspect allows companies to have more effective, frequent communication with their teams and their clients. People are also generally more available for calls and virtual meetings and have the benefit of greater flexibility. That doesn’t mean that they are working less because they are at home. In fact, most people are working much longer hours, and are more productive due to fewer interruptions than are typically experienced in an office setting.
We are all in this together
At the end of the day, we have to remember that we are all in this together. And this crisis has brought people together in new ways. We see it in the communities in which we live, and in our workplaces. We see neighbor helping neighbor, and we see the strong commitment of companies that truly support and value their employees.
So, while this is definitely not business as usual, it is still business indeed. The important decisions that we make today to protect the health and safety of ourselves and our employees, is bringing about a shift in the ways in which people interact with each other and how business will be conducted, not just for now, but into the future.
This continues to be a fluid situation, and at VERSA we remain committed to the safety and well-being of our employees those of our clients and service partners. We have created a dedicated page on our website to keep you up to date on VERSA’s initiatives in response to COVID-19. For more information, please click here:
VERSA Relocation COVID-19 Company Update.
We always want to keep the conversation going, so please contact us anytime. We are always here for you, and we love to hear from you!