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The impact of Covid-19 on Global Mobility

As a turbulent year draws to a close and news of vaccines offer a glimmer of hope for the future, our latest infographic reflects on the dramatic impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our industry in 2020.

When the pandemic broke, the first challenge most Global Mobility (GM) teams faced was whether or not to repatriate internationally mobile employees, especially as the logistics of doing so, with borders closing and restrictions and regulations changing by the day, were complex. The global nature of the crisis meant that many assignees stayed put and around half of companies didn’t repatriate any staff at all. A significant proportion of companies did not have a crisis policy in place to guide them through this initial phase, although many report that they are now in the process of compiling one. Despite the challenges, almost two-thirds of companies were pleased with how they responded to the pandemic.

Remote working technology has proved to be a lifeline during this time, allowing some aspects of business to continue almost as normal. Nearly all companies who repatriated staff allowed them to continue their assignment remotely where possible and 60% allowed new assignments to begin remotely where physical relocation was impractical. Having been forced to adopt virtual assignments out of necessity, many companies are enthusiastic about their potential for solving business challenges longer term too but are cautious about the unintended immigration and tax compliance issues that have surfaced through their use.

What does the future look like? 

The economic impact of the pandemic was already beginning to be felt at the time of our Global Mobility and Covid-19 survey in June, by which point nearly a fifth of GM teams had already been instructed to reduce costs. Most industries are likely to experience budgetary pressure throughout 2021 and beyond and companies will be looking for ways to not only save money but add value. Many companies are finding that technologies they had to adopt in a hurry to remain operational have improved productivity in ways they hadn’t expected, and mindsets are changing to become more open to the possibilities technology can offer. A significant proportion of companies are looking to increase automation in their GM programme in direct response to the pandemic.

Despite the continuing challenges, many companies are optimistic about nearly all forms of international mobility returning to pre-pandemic levels within a year of the survey, with only a small minority predicting the recovery to take more than two years or not happen at all. Let’s hope the positivity is warranted!


If you would like to discuss any of the above in further detail, or seek our advice regarding how to manage your mobile employees during the pandemic, please do not hesitate to contact us or your ECA point of contact directly.

  Please contact us to speak to a member of our team directly.

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