GUEST POST BY ANNA MICHIELSEN, GENERAL MANAGER, ECA INTERNATIONAL
As Australia and New Zealand open up to travel, and we take our first overseas flights after a long break it is a good time to consider the significant changes in the business traveller and remote work space.
Specialising in Global Mobility I often talk with clients managing accountability for remote workers, as well as the cross-over to business travel PE, tax, and immigration. To find out more I spoke with my colleague, Tom Crosby, from ECA’s Tracker Software Technologies who specialise in this area.
AM: What are the big changes you are seeing in business travel and remote work?
TC: The truly global nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed business travel forever and catapulted remote work into focus.
Business travellers are remarkably adept at change. In the past travellers readily accepted liquids bans, shoe searches – and as airlines sought cost savings – self-service check-in and bag drop.
Companies too have proved adept at change – reviewing processes across multiple internal stakeholders as they focus on the bigger picture of business travel and take steps to ensure traveller safety, wellness, and sustainability in that journey as well as considering compliance with tax and immigration rules.
AM: For a company looking to improve its traveller process what are the key pointers?
1. Engage the traveller at the earliest stage of any new process.
Like the example of the change in airline and airport processes mentioned above, travellers are ready for new processes to support their safety in future travel, and to facilitate remote working.
This is an important point; we speak to companies daily who think ‘our guys won’t do that’, but if companies can introduce a streamlined process, employees are likely to readily engage with it and feel more supported because of it. This is especially the case if the new process makes it easy for the traveller to do everything in one visit to the screen or smartphone.
2. Introduce a comprehensive pre-trip approval process.
As COVID-19 hit, companies struggled to locate their employees. Travel data, texts, calls and other ad-hoc processes were introduced to discover who was where and what risks they faced.
Employer liability requires companies to step-up assessments to ensure traveller safety and compliance and travel volumes return streamlined processes will come into their own. This is where mobility teams need now to actively engage with their travel and risk management colleagues to understand and develop the new processes.
Travel & risk teams tend to see travel only from their silo lens. Mobility teams see the same travel event through a different lens. Right now there is an unique opportunity to align mobility compliance with travel compliance.
3. Include remote workers
Remote workers carry the same risk attributes as business travellers; they are away from their normal place of work for an extended period, maybe within their same tax residence, maybe within a jurisdiction they have a ‘right to work’, but maybe not.
‘Pre-Remote Work Request’ will become as commonplace as ‘Pre-trip request’. Employees will submit these requests under policies (still to be developed in some companies) and employers will evaluate these requests considering the same variables that cause compliance issues for business travellers.
AM: What the best practice initiatives you are seeing?
Comprehensive pre-approval methodologies, are for the first time, providing stakeholders with an opportunity to become proactive in their mitigation of compliance events. This is imperative to navigate complex legislation, where countries have differing interpretations of ‘common’ concepts. Add into the mix duty of care and wellbeing, this environment becomes even more complex highlighting the need for clear policies and well thought-out processes to ensure safe and compliant travel in the post-COVID world.
Anna Michielsen – is ECA’s General Manager for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific and is based in Sydney. ECA provides Assignment Management Software, Assignment Calculators and Tools, Data, Consultancy and Training for organisations with globally mobile workforces. Anna can be found on LinkedIn or contacted at email@example.com.
Tom Crosby – is Tracker Software Technologies’ (TST) Director of Consulting. TST is a technology company specialising in the tracking of business travellers and remote workers for compliance and duty of care purposes. The technology integrates with corporates’ existing vendor ecosystem and travel booking platforms. Tom can be found on LinkedIn, or contacted at Tom@gtglobaltracker.com.