Remote and flexible working – Global mobility’s spotlight in workforce transformation


The explosion of remote and flexible work fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 2 years, has created an opportunity for Global Mobility professionals to play a more significant role in their organisation’s talent strategy and evolution.

Mobility is no longer just a ‘special program’ to develop future leaders and critical talent, but is now fundamental to how, when and where employees work. In many organisations, mobility is not just a specialised niche of 1 – 2% of the workforce but can encompass more than 50% of an organisation’s workforce. Along with traditional forms of mobility, it also includes business travellers, commuters, virtual assignments and remote work arrangements.

These more flexible mobility categories are also an increasingly important component of the employee experience and an organisation’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP). “The Great Resignation”, a term coined by Associate Professor Anthony Klotz from the Texas A&M University in late 2020, has been used to describe the response by the millions of US employees who, burnt out by the pandemic, began reevaluating their work-life balance and quitting their jobs in significant numbers.

This phenomenon has been widely reported in other countries, including Australia and suggests that employees are actively (and easily) leaving their existing roles to join organisations that will provide them with the work lifestyle they are looking for. Employers who aren’t addressing the demand for remote and flexible work risk finding themselves on the backfoot and scrambling to retain and attract the best talent. In PwC’s most recent pulse survey of the C-Suite, 77% of respondents said that hiring and retaining talent is the most critical investment and top driver of growth.

With that, over 40% of respondents said that they are planning on keeping the hybrid work options they have already implemented and an additional 29% said that they have implemented them and will revisit that offering to ensure they are fit for purpose. Less than 20% said they’re considering it, but haven’t made a final decision.

The role of mobility professionals

Global mobility professionals have a key role to play in helping the business navigate and enable these new requirements and plan for how remote and flexible arrangements can be supported in the organisation. In particular Global Mobility professionals are well-placed to:

  • Highlight the range of compliance and regulatory considerations which need to be considered and bridge the gap across specialist teams – remote/flexible work is complex and crosses many facets of any organisation including HR, tax, payroll, legal, IT/cyber-security, health and safety.
  • Support with talent management and mapping – skills shortages in Australia and other key markets around the world, means that finding, attracting and retaining key talent is crucial.
  • Provide policy and process analysis – leading organisations are tackling this head on and developing approaches to support their talent, people and business needs.

We can see from recent data that remote/flexible work is no longer a unique option, but becoming a go-to way to work. Even as the pandemic eases and some companies choose to more fully re-open offices, many workers will not be expecting to come into the office full time, but to flex their work week with a combination of days in the office and days working out of the office.

Evolving takes intention, time and planning. Not all of this happens overnight, but as you examine your program and how GM supports your business and people proposition consider the following:

  1. Understand your organisation’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and how remote/flexible working fits into that. If your organisation doesn’t have a remote/flexible working approach but they are exploring it, provide insight. Your global mobility service provider will have qualitative and quantitative insights they can share with you to start informing your approach.
  2. Have an opinion and really back it with data. Understand what is happening in the market and what your competitors are doing. Understand what is happening in your business and for your workforce, knowing who your differing employee populations are. For example, have requests for remote/flexible work arrangements increased, what reasons are driving this, are employees in particular roles making these requests. Is remote/flexible work supported or possible within your organisation – why or why not?
  3. Elevate your role from a reactive, support function to strategic enabler. Think about how you can streamline and drive efficiencies in daily administrative and repetitive tasks, to free your time to focus on the bigger picture, engaging with the business, understanding and supporting the needs of your people and leaders.
  4. Review your suite of mobility policies and documentation – do they adequately support the current and expected future needs of mobility within your organisation, including a clearly documented approach for domestic and cross border remote/flexible work arrangements.
  5. Review your mobility operating model to ensure it is fit for purpose. This is particularly important as borders reopen and the volume of traditional employee moves begins to increase along with remote/flexible work arrangements. Consider whether you have an appropriate team structure, resourcing and capability. Identify the gaps and review how your vendor partners can best support you from a capability and technology perspective.

If you and your organisation haven’t been addressing these needs, it’s not too late to start – but you don’t want to be left behind.  As a Global Mobility professional, you have the background, skills, and insight to help drive your organisation forward in this new and transformative time!

Jacquie Davidson (San Jose, California) and Selina Keller (Sydney) are part of the Workforce Transformation and Mobility Managed Services team at PwC. PwC’s global mobility, tax and immigration services business will separate from PwC in the coming months to become a standalone organisation with the support of CD&R. Through this partnership, the business will accelerate investment in technology to offer clients a fully integrated digital experience across the entire talent mobility ecosystem. Reach out to Jacquie or Selina if you would like to discuss your mobility needs or the new business further.

By |2022-02-14T13:25:04+11:00February 13th, 2022|Australian immigration, Immigration|0 Comments
Jacquie Davidson and Selina Keller
At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. In our increasingly complex world, we work with businesses, government and the community to deliver solutions and sustained outcomes. To help Australia continue to thrive and grow. We’re part of a network of firms in 158 countries with over 250,000 people. PwC is one of the top 50 brands worldwide and PwC Australia is among LinkedIn’s top companies for where Australians want to work. We are a team of more than 8,000 people who deliver integrated solutions in audit, assurance, consulting and tax services to more than 5,000 clients across Australia.

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