By Beth Warner, Associate Director, Deloitte
If you are like me and have worked in mobility for over 11 years, you will be fairly comfortable with explaining what “mobility” means, especially in the small professional circles that we operate in. Even if a family member or, dare I say, a friend of a friend who has the ultimate dream-job of ice cream tasting, asks “So… what do you do for a living?” I will casually explain that we support organisations with their expat population. Everyone, or at least most, will have heard the term “expat”. And we move the conversation on to their thoughts on the latest Love Island episode, knowing at least they have a small idea of what we spend our working time doing.
Now, I must confess, I dread the “What do you do for a living?” question. Not because I don’t love what I do, but explaining what mobility means is becoming much more difficult. As mobility professionals we have been comfortable with our ‘box of mobility’. The traditional expat, home-based, tax equalised, going for 2-3 years and then going back to the home country. As a client, you were very clear on the challenge and we were very clear on the solution. The good old days!
I work with a client who recently moved into this area, as the Head of Mobility at a retail organisation. She casually turned to me one day and said “What do you even mean by mobility?” She went on to explain that, for her, mobility is not about the expat or the assignee. Her task is to track and support her organisations’ resources, ensure compliance for the individuals and the organisation alike, enhance the employee experience and manage the total cost of the programme. Doing this for the assignee is relatively easy; it is all of the other types of cross border working that cause her to have a few sleepless nights!
I think all of us can appreciate that the variety of mobile employees - business travellers, commuters, rotators, project workers, home workers and those with global/regional roles - is what keeps us interested in our role, but can also cause us the most headaches. However, in my experience the typical mobility model or programme has not been set up to adapt to this evolution.
The mobility team itself is unlikely to be able to support all types of cross border working, particularly given the volumes often involved. So the task in hand centres more on educating the business and managing a mind-set change. Mobility leads also need to challenge themselves on what mobility means, and how their programme needs to change in order to be effective in this more fluid environment. We, as vendors, in turn need to evolve our solutions to meet these new (or maybe not so new!) challenges.
If you would like to know more about the ideas Deloitte’s Global Workforce team have in this area or would like to partner with us to develop effective solutions, please let us know!