Global mobility has turned into a real buzzword ever since remote work dissolved geographical barriers that formerly restricted businesses and employees alike. Instead of being limited to a local talent pool, businesses can now select the best candidates from an unlimited global talent pool. Employees can meanwhile benefit from the flexibility offered by remote work to move freely around the globe to work from different locations.
But what does global workforce mobility really mean? Why has workforce mobility become so important? What benefits does it provide for employees and employers? And what challenges do businesses need to prepare for when they want to support a mobile workforce?
Global mobility, often also referred to as workplace mobility or workforce mobility, is when an organization works with a mobile workforce that can move freely between different countries and locations. Driving factors for relocation include both personal and professional reasons, such as the desire to be closer to family and friends or a long-term assignment abroad.
The term also refers to an organization’s ability to shift workers from one location to another to work on projects, conduct local market research, and more. Multinational organizations that need to send employees on international assignments on a regular basis usually have a special business function dedicated solely to global workforce mobility. In most cases, this function is part of the business’s HR department.
Global mobility is when an organization works with a mobile workforce that can move freely between different countries and locations.
Workforce mobility is quickly becoming an expected benefit in the modern workplace. The reasons for this are numerous. First, a mobile workforce ensures business continuity in times of crisis—the recent pandemic being the perfect example. A workforce that is designed to operate according to the same standards regardless of their location is flexible enough to perform well even under difficult circumstances.
Second, the world of work has experienced some fundamental changes in recent years. Changes that have led to remote work becoming the new normal, forcing workplaces to adapt to an increased need for flexibility, collaboration, and agility. Enabling workforce mobility is an important aspect in this.
Third, expectations on the employee side have changed drastically. Aspects like work-life balance and flexibility are in high demand among employees and now rival compensation in the ranking of the top employee benefits. Businesses that don’t respond to these changes will miss out on important leverage in the talent acquisition space.
In short, the modern way of working demands mobility in the workplace. While businesses don’t always have to go as far as to fully embrace global mobility, a certain level of mobility is nowadays not only required by the changed circumstances surrounding work, but also requested by job seekers and potential candidates.
Workforce mobility is beneficial to both employees and employers. For employees, the benefits mainly revolve around greater freedom and flexibility. For employers, on the other hand, offering global mobility programs can have a tremendously positive impact on talent acquisition as well as on employee happiness, motivation, and productivity.
Businesses can gain a significant competitive advantage through workforce mobility. Compared to organizations that don’t support global mobility, those who do can leverage the following benefits:
Talent attraction and retention: The possibility of being location-independent is a great incentive for candidates to accept a job offer with an organization. Since aspects like work-life balance and flexibility are becoming increasingly important factors in the decision-making process when choosing a new employer, organizations that follow the mobile-workforce model enhance their chances of attracting (and retaining) talented workers. It’s also important to note that employees who are happy with their employer are much more likely to recommend the company to potential candidates in their professional or friendship circle.
Access to a global talent pool: An organization that works with a mobile workforce is usually remote by default. What this means is that there are no geographical barriers to where the business can hire new talent. Having access to a global talent pool not only helps overcome local talent shortages, but it also significantly increases the company’s chances of finding the perfect candidate for an open position.
Greater flexibility: A mobile workforce gives an organization the necessary flexibility to quickly react to changed circumstances and take new business opportunities as soon as they arise. Businesses that support workforce mobility are better prepared to respond to volatile global market trends and immediately jump into action to expand into new emerging markets.
Higher employee engagement rates and greater employee satisfaction: Workplace mobility drives employee engagement. Since engaged employees deliver better results than their disengaged colleagues, it’s a win-win situation. The same goes for employee happiness. Employees who are happy with their job perform better and are more productive. Since employee productivity directly correlates with revenue creation, the positive impact on the business’s bottom line is obvious.
Cost savings: A mobile workforce generally costs businesses less than a local workforce that works at the company office five days a week. Reasons why businesses can save money with remote work include decreased costs for real estate and utilities and lower global payroll costs when hiring in low-wage countries.
Being able to work from different locations and having the freedom to choose said location opens up vast opportunities for employees. On the employee side, the advantages of working for a business that endorses global mobility include:
Better work-life balance: The concept of workforce mobility works in two different ways. It allows businesses to send their workforce to different parts of the world. Additionally, it gives employees the freedom to work from where they want. This means that employees can travel more (for example by taking a short or long workation) or permanently relocate to a place where they can enjoy a better work-life balance.
Increased workplace diversity: Businesses that incorporate workforce mobility into their way of working typically have a global team that is composed of team members from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Diversity makes for a more stimulating work environment, which makes work a lot more interesting and enriching.
Higher level of flexibility: Workplace mobility increases an employee’s flexibility, which is a major plus—especially in the case of life-changing events. Without workplace flexibility, changing circumstances that lead to employees having to relocate would mean having to search for a new job, which can cause additional stress.
Workforce mobility comes with numerous benefits for both employees and employers. But it also creates important challenges that businesses need to overcome. The most common global mobility challenges include:
Ensuring compliance with local employment laws, payroll regulations, and taxation rules,
Meeting visa requirements,
Communicating and collaborating across different time zones and geographies,
Establishing an effective remote work culture,
Managing projects asynchronously,
Running a multi-country payroll, and
Creating a sense of belonging in the organization.
The best way to prepare for and overcome these challenges is to develop a detailed global mobility strategy that outlines:
How data security and protection is ensured,
If and how location influences employee compensation,
What support is provided to employees that have to travel to a different country for work purposes,
What the procedures are for ensuring global employment, payroll and tax compliance,
How applications for required visas and work permits are managed,
And much more.
The best way for businesses to prevent compliance issues related to international workforce mobility is to have a global solution at hand that enables them to hire and pay employees anywhere in the world compliantly. This is where solutions like Lano come into play.
Lano’s global employment and payroll solution provides businesses with all the tools and support they need to effortlessly manage all aspects of global workforce mobility. Thanks to a global network of experienced Employer of Record partners and in-country payroll providers, hiring, onboarding, paying, and relocating employees becomes a seamless process, no matter where they are in the world.
Book a demo with one of our global employment and payroll experts and learn more about how Lano can help you simplify global mobility management and leverage the benefits of a mobile workforce.
The Lano Academy is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Lano Software GmbH disclaims any liability for any actions you take or refrain from taking based on the content contained in this article.
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