Even before the pandemic, long-term international assignment jobs were in decline. High costs, technology that made global collaboration easier and a preference to hire locally all contributed to their loss of favor. The pandemic intensified the downward trend as families were unwilling to move far away for several years during a crisis.
The pandemic also brought duty of care processes and procedures, or the lack thereof, to the forefront. Many companies found themselves ill-prepared when the crisis hit. They lacked emergency shelter in place and evacuation protocols, and employees were unprepared to work from home while on assignment abroad. In many cases, there was more confusion than communication between the home and host locations. In other cases, they weren’t even sure where all their employees were located.
What does this mean for the mobility industry?
With duty of care issues being a high priority for employers and employees, many companies have tightened up (or established) duty of care procedures during the pandemic. The easing of global pandemic restrictions has opened the door for international assignment jobs, and employees are again embracing international opportunities.
With better technology for virtual teams and workspaces, companies are focusing more on standard international business trips, extended business trips and short-term assignments of one year or less. This supports several goals: cost reduction, knowledge acquisition, in-person and virtual collaboration and less family disruption. It also allows for continued global growth and fosters a global mindset. Alternatively, for roles requiring a dedicated, full-time, on-site presence, many companies opt for permanent moves at the outset instead of long-term assignments with eventual repatriation.