Workplace technology enters new `golden age`

A ‘golden age’ of workplace technology could be coming, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic according to a new report, co-authored by Professor Michael Dickmann from Cranfield University which investigated the Global Mobility response to COVID-19. The report claims that some multinational companies were completely lacking crisis response plans when the pandemic hit, and many are now adjusting their goals because of movement restrictions and employee wellbeing.

Global Mobility is defined in the report as the function that manages the logistics and the needs of employees who live and work, or travel frequently, to different countries. Many multinational corporations have staff as long- or short-term assignees overseas, and staff who travel internationally for business. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge disruption for these companies and their employees.

The report Now, Next and Beyond: Global Mobility’s response to COVID-19, was commissioned by The RES Forum, in association with EY, and surveyed 53 multinational corporations (MNCs) who have large numbers of employees working and moving around the world. The academic team researched crisis planning, Global Mobility action, the short- and long-term impact of the pandemic, and gives insight and recommendations for action.

Key findings include:

  • Less than half of corporations (49 percent) have fully implemented a major incident response policy
  • A solid Duty of Care programme before the crisis paid off in terms of switching to crisis mode
  • About half of the MNCs are lagging in the development of suitable action addressing the needs of Global Mobility in the pandemic
  • Two thirds completely suspended all business travel, nationally and internationally
  • More than two thirds of MNCs see a high or extreme risk for assignees’ mental health
  • About one third expects a decrease in assignee satisfaction, due to incomplete and/or changing information from the company
  • Use of virtual work will increase in more than 80 percent of all companies
  • 76 percent believe that business travel will be reduced even long beyond the crisis
  • Over half predict a drop in short- and long-term assignments


Catching up

Michael Dickmann, Professor of International Human Resource Management, said: “I was surprised to see that many companies did not have business continuity plans or crisis strategies in place – which meant they were caught out when COVID-19 swept across the globe. Although corporations adapted quickly, many expect their assignment goals to not be fulfilled. This is partly due to the valid concerns for employees’ mental health and wellbeing; and it’s also due to the restrictions on normal networking and business action.”

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Global HR management may never look the same again[/perfectpullquote]

“Global HR management may never look the same again,” says Professor Dickmann. “The expected long-term decrease in international business travel and global assignments will impact on talent management, in terms of knowledge creation and corporate integration around the world. Global Mobility professionals are likely to need to develop their skill set further to adapt to the future needs of the business.”

RES Forum partner, David Enser, said: “Great learning and positive action can come of crisis and upheaval – as such, the RES Forum remains resolute of belief in the uniqueness of our mobility industry and academia-acknowledged research agenda – giving full answers, industry and academia-backed, to the provocative questions as the Future of Work unfolds before us.”

The report was co-authored by Dr Benjamin Bader of Newcastle University Business School and is available to view on The RES Forum website.

Research beyond the immediate effects of COVID-19 continues through the Global Mobility of Employees (GLOMO) consortium. The European Union is supporting 15 in-depth research projects that explore global mobility issues financially. One of the projects, led by Cranfield University, looks at micro, meso and macro implications of working in physically and psychologically hostile environments.