While COVID-19 has effectively put a spanner in most cross-country deployments for this year, going into 2021, we firmly believe that it’ll be critical for HR leaders to bring employee mobility back into the talent management equation. This is why we've curated this trends special, where we present ways in which mobility vendors are elevating their game plans to deliver what HR really needs. 

Emma Dodwell-Groves , Manager, Talent Mobility Consulting, BGRS
Top tip: Cross-functional alignment on broader talent goals is essential

Q What do you believe will be the greatest challenge to employee mobility in 2021? 

The greatest challenge is meeting talent mobility needs while remaining compliant in a shifting landscape. COVID-19 and geopolitics have restricted movement that has been taken for granted. Not only for global business, but to recruit and retain key talent, and for essential talent development. Cross-border travel is increasingly a minefield with strict immigration requirements, tax liabilities, and duty of care obligations. Striking the balance between enabling talent agendas and ensuring compliance will require mobility practitioners to embrace technology enhancements and share expertise cross-functionally.

Q Share with us some of the product/service ideas that you’re crafting in order to deliver exactly what mobility leaders will need to tackle these challenges.  

At BGRS we have been accelerating our technology journey and alignment with our supply chain to ensure clients are informed, up to date and compliant as situations continue to evolve. 

Solutions such as Tripwise, BGRSflexTM, and MoveXpert underpin the ability to manage business travellers operating globally and to provide flexible packages to relocating employees that maximise choice while ensuring legal, financial, and corporate culture essentials are catered for and trackable.

Q What’s one thing HR leaders should keep in mind when formulating their 2021 mobility strategy? 

Cross-functional alignment on broader talent goals is essential. Workforce mobility strategy should be agile enough to support skills gaps and immediate/short-term business needs as well as long term talent objectives.  To do so, HR leaders should ensure that workforce mobility within their organisation is an integrated part of talent discussions – from recruitment to retention, development to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

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Amanda Jones, SVP Sales & Account Management, APAC & Middle East, SIRVA Worldwide Relocation & Moving
Top tip: Digitisation is now ever-more essential for tracking of all employees effectively 

Q What do you believe will be the greatest challenge to employee mobility in 2021?

The impact of COVID-19 on mobility programmes and relocation operations has been considerable. Moving into 2021, I believe mobility leaders will still be faced with the challenge of immediate needs such as remobilising employees as some countries are reopening at different stages, as well as strategising for future-ready programmes.

Business models and moving types have also evolved, adding the complexity of traditional mobility programmes (e.g. remote workforces may fall on mobility to manage). COVID-19 has also accelerated the use of technology. Digitisation is now ever-more essential, such as for the tracking of all employees to ensure tax compliance, keeping relocation costs in check, and having visibility of the relocation support available at a glance.

Q Share with us some of the product/service ideas that you’re crafting in order to deliver exactly what mobility leaders will need to tackle these challenges.

We have been working with our clients to help them take a proactive and agile approach to re-assess and build flexibility into their mobility programmes to address evolving business models and move types. At the same time, we advise balancing business objectives with cost containment and employee experience.

SIRVA has also invested heavily on a technology stack that is designed for two distinctly different audiences; mobility teams and relocating employees, and it offers flexibility to meet the needs of today’s mobility organisations.

Advantages include:

  • Faster access to information e.g. location of mobile population
  • A single source of truth across mobility, visa and immigration, tax and other related systems
  • Extensibility and scale, to make it simple to ‘plug and play’ with other systems, while maintaining data integrity and security.

Q What’s one thing HR leaders should keep in mind when formulating their 2021 mobility strategy?

While not all organisations are equipped with the skills and resources, HR or mobility leaders can leverage the expertise of a mobility provider that has a wealth of experience working across industries, a wide global footprint, and that has a full spectrum of relocation and moving services to formalise a programme that meets business goals while keeping cost in check in the long run.

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Darren Cher, Senior General Manager, Great World Serviced Apartments
Top tip: Incorporate flexible work arrangements and wellbeing benefits

Q What do you believe will be the greatest challenge to employee mobility in 2021?

The biggest challenge lies with border closures and travel restrictions in most countries for foreigners due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mobility will also be impacted by the safety and health concerns of the employee with regards to the differing COVID-19 situations in the different countries/regions, i.e. whether there are rising infection cases, widespread community transmissions etc., and accessibility and cost of treatment for foreigners in those countries/regions.

Q Share with us some of the product/service ideas that you’re crafting in order to deliver exactly what mobility leaders will need to tackle these challenges.

The major product we will roll out in 2021 will be our own app for our guests that will offer them a suite of contactless features to ease and enhance their stay with us.

This will include online registration, check in/check out options via the app, managing visitors registration, booking of facilities (including shuttle services seats/tennis court/meeting room, etc.), reporting faults in the apartment, special requests, and keeping up to date with news, events and promotions in the property or surroundings to ensure they get to enjoy the best and most worry-free lifestyle possible when they stay with us.

Another major project is the refurbishment of apartments and common area facilities including the pool, residents lounge, improvement in broadband services and updating the apartment furnishings to cater to the needs of guests/residents who spend more time working from home.

Q What’s one thing HR leaders should keep in mind when forming their 2021 mobility strategy?

The pandemic has changed the mindset of everyone with regards to how they work, live and play with a shift towards better health, better environment and overall well-being. Organisations need to adapt and cater to this change by incorporating flexible work arrangements and more comprehensive medical/health benefits focusing on well-being, as well as place more emphasis on re-skilling and job redesign.

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Susan Sng, HR Director, Savills (Singapore)
Top tip: Employees’ mental health and wellbeing should be reviewed

Q What do you believe will be the greatest challenge to employee mobility in 2021?

Employees and their family’s mental wellbeing will be a big challenge, especially if they are not able to travel back to their home country and see their extended families for an extended duration of time. Although technology has made it easier to communicate with them, it is still different compared to being there in person. It is likely that they are used to traveling at least once a year for vacation, and being unable to travel can be depressing.

Q Share with us some of the product/service ideas that you’re crafting in order to deliver exactly what mobility leaders will need to tackle these challenges.

We are coming up with day tours that are customised to the employee and their family’s lifestyle. Instead of going for a staycation, they can choose to explore Singapore with us.

Unlike the orientation programme which they would have done when they first arrived in Singapore, this day tour allows them to experience being a local, or visit places that they never knew existed.

Q What’s one thing HR leaders should keep in mind when formulating their 2021 mobility strategy?

- Employees’ mental health and wellbeing should be reviewed or taken into consideration. Working remotely may be the new norm, but the lack of face-to-face interaction on a regular basis may result in the employee losing their sense of belonging in the long term. Teams may lose their sense of camaraderie and synergy so team building events should happen more regularly in 2021.

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Clara Beng, General Manager, Fraser Suites Singapore
Top tip: Ensure safety measures are cemented into daily operations

Q What do you believe will be the greatest challenge to employee mobility in 2021?

The unpredictability nature of the pandemic, as seen occurring in many countries will continue to be the greatest mobility challenge in 2021.

Prior to the pandemic, we could rely on familiar mobility seasons, peak travel periods and other data to provide insights for our business forecasting and plan ahead. Control of the pandemic in many countries remains elusive despite efforts by governments and communities worldwide. The key for any business in 2021 is to ensure safety measures are cemented into daily operations, adapt processes that are agile, and respond immediately to new situations. At Frasers Hospitality Singapore, we will continuously engage our residents to understand their needs and put their safety at the core of everything we do.

Q Share with us some of the product/service ideas that you’re crafting in order to deliver exactly what mobility leaders will need to tackle these challenges.

As a serviced accommodation provider, we understand that we play a key role in employee mobility. Apart from ensuring our serviced apartments’ safety and security complies with global certification standards and taking all necessary precautions to maintain the highest standards of hygiene, we have not neglected the guest experience.

It is our belief that challenging times are when we should do more, not less. Some of our value-add touches are crafted to provide utmost convenience to residents, such as complimentary breakfast hampers that we refill weekly, and entertaining residents with home theatre shows, live cooking events and virtual workshops.

We also offer flexible arrangements for residents who are affected by sudden restrictions or border closures and require an extension of stay.

Q What’s one thing HR leaders should keep in mind when formulating their 2021 mobility strategy?

With the increase in regulations, work permit applications have become more tedious and require a longer processing time. There are also quarantine requirements that brings inconvenience to relocation, and transiting within cities may remain challenging. It is key for HR leaders to factor and plan for these new conditions in their 2021 mobility strategy and be agile in adapting and managing the workforce.

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Javier Maldonado Calderon, International & Employee Banking Solutions Senior Manager, HSBC Group
Top tip: Manage mobility programmes with an increased focus on wellbeing

Q What do you believe will be the greatest challenge to employee mobility in 2021?

In the current environment, banking has jumped a few positions on the priority list. The limitations on global movement have created an increased need for digital solutions as some assignees need to start their international assignment from their home market. There are also scenarios in which assignees need to fulfill government quarantine requirements, which make it physically impossible for them to visit branches to fulfill their banking needs. This reinforces the need for a digital solution even once they’ve arrived at their new destination.

Q Share with us some of the product/service ideas that you’re crafting in order to deliver exactly what mobility leaders will need to tackle these challenges.

HSBC can support the relocating employees to set up banking facilities before they arrive in their new country. This involves the use of the LiveSign technology, an electronic signature solution for signing documents electronically and submitting them securely to the Bank.

While the process is online, it will be assisted by a HSBC staff at all times so the corporate assignee will not have to navigate through the process on his /her own.

Q What’s one thing HR leaders should keep in mind when formulating their 2021 mobility strategy?

Corporates are rethinking how best to manage their mobility programmes with an increased focus on looking after the wellbeing of their assignees and their families. Banking is one such element to take care of for the move and HSBC is definitely here to support.

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Steve Burson, CEO, Relo Network Asia Holdings
Top tip: Rely on your different partners to provide updates

Q What do you believe will be the greatest challenge to employee mobility in 2021?

The greatest challenge is going to be keeping on top of the changing bilateral agreements between countries with regards to how relocating employees can enter and exit countries, and the duty-of-care requirements in terms of how employees and their families can move to their new destination safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Q Share with us some of the product/service ideas that you’re crafting in order to deliver exactly what mobility leaders will need to tackle these challenges.

Firstly, we're crafting arrival support programmes to brief employees on what to prepare pre-arrival and what to expect on arrival, during quarantine and post arrival / quarantine.

Secondly, we're providing virtual pre-arrival programmes, using platforms such as Zoom, Teams and FaceTime to introduce employees/families to their destination through presentations, video and live streaming. 

Finally, we're also offering unaccompanied or virtual home finding, i.e. a combination of video, live-streaming and then physical viewing.

Q What’s one thing HR leaders should keep in mind when formulating their 2021 mobility strategy?

Rely on your different partners to provide updates on what they are seeing. There are many more moving parts now and if we all share together what we see and know, we most likely can provide the best and most up-to-date solutions for our moving employees and families.

Find out more


Photo / 123RF 

This exclusive has been brought to you as part of Workforce Mobility Interactive, Asia’s largest conference on the latest and best mobility practices in the region. To request an invitation to attend the conference in 2021, please click here, and we hope to see you there!

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