• Coronavirus COVID-19 and Global Mobility


    With the coronavirus epidemic in China continuing to escalate and spread beyond its borders, it goes without saying that global organizations are having to focus their attention on international relocation and business travel activities. Both employers and employees having to travel are feeling uneasy in the face of the uncertainties surrounding the illness versus ongoing business needs.

    This screen shot shows the concentration of the outbreak as of February 19th. The link below is one of many sites that track the cases on a country-by-country basis.



    Organizations around the world are having to manage operations in the context of travel bans, increased border controls, evacuations, quarantines, etc. Mobility issues arising within organizations with international operations include:

    – Relocations in progress: delays in travel or delivery of household items, temporary housing, changes to immigration requirements, concern for family safety, cold feet, etc. What additional support needs to be provided?

    – Whether or not to postpone assignments to vulnerable areas, and the impact on business

    – How to address costs associated with a cancelled relocation (e.g., house sold, and another purchased)

    – How to cover accommodation and living while prevented from returning to affected country after leaving temporarily

    – Immigration, visa, passport issues related to repatriation, transferring to another location or extended stays outside of the affected country

    – Should repatriation policy provisions be modified for affected areas (e.g., cancellation and other fees, limited flight availability, travel delays, additional accommodation costs, etc.)?

    – Should additional or extended home leave be offered?

    – Is evacuation for dependent family members to be supported if the transferee remains in affected location?

    – Should families be separated (i.e., transferred employee must remain)?

    – Should additional medical support be arranged for transferees and families in affected areas? Are alternative work arrangements to be supported?

    – How is the relocation management company (RMC) keeping itself and the client up to date on developments and monitoring the supplier network?

    – How will RMCs deal with conflicting approaches from their suppliers on doing business in affected areas?

    – Should business travel be scaled back and to what degree? To and from the affected areas only, or beyond? What kind of business travel is to be scaled back? Are conventions or large assemblies avoided?

    These are just a few of the countless questions that will have or will come up during meetings and discussions with transferees, suppliers, business unit managers and corporate executives. All pose serious logistical and communication challenges.

    We would like to hear your thoughts, invite you to share some of the measures adopted to support employees and operations during this worrisome crisis. Let us know either directly at John@wardofarrell.com or through the comments feature of our LinkedIn groups. We’ll be sure to report back in another blog.