The Future of Global Mobility
Where It Stands After The Outbreak and The Implications of Remote Work
When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared on 11 March 2020, few would have predicted the extent to which the world would change and how rapidly these changes would take place. Soon after, border closures and travel restrictions were enforced which dampened movement of all stripes. This included the fall of tourism, curtailed business travels, and the rise of repatriation (both migrants and travellers alike). As global society struggles with its worst mobility crisis, a serious debate emerged regarding the global mobility policy. The very fabric of global mobility was at stake and put on hold. With the pandemic ongoing, what does the future say about global mobility and how can it improve from here?
The novel coronavirus outbreak is without a doubt the most significant international mobility event in modern history. As the COVID-19 spread around the globe, millions were killed and the global economy dwindled. Businesses soon experienced a drastic decline in revenue, placing many people out of jobs. Businesses that were highly affected with unemployment were the hospitality industries, airline industries, and local service sectors that did not possess the flexible and adaptable technology required to adequately respond to the pandemic. Companies with a technological edge were more likely to respond well to the pandemic as they possessed the technology solutions to manage aspects of their mobility programmes.
How did the pandemic impact global mobility?
“Some parts of the global mobility industry have managed well while others have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Anna Michielsen, General Manager at ECA International, a company providing data, software, and global mobility expertise to multinational companies.
Travel Bans & Restrictions
In the early stage of 2020, countries devised quick action in imposing travel restrictions and health requirements to combat the spread of the virus. Within 3 months, many countries closed points of entry and banned travel from the affected regions. During those times, movements of all kinds were dramatically reduced as people were sheltered under national lockdowns.
Disruption of Seasonal & Temporary Labour Migration
After the border closure, the pandemic began to severely impact migrants and travellers worldwide. Based on a report conducted by Migration Policy Institute (MPI), “The pandemic had left nearly 3 million people stranded, sometimes without access to consular assistance.” The COVID-19 border closures and following travel restrictions have also extended or postponed immigration policies, disrupting the movements of citizens everywhere.
Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic decimated tourism and business travels, but has also significantly disrupted seasonal and temporary labour migration. From international students being able to travel back and forth to school, to family reunification, the abrupt border closures and restrictions have left countless travellers either stranded or in desperate need of repatriation assistance, visa extensions, and renewals. As a result of embassies and consular offices being either closed or operating with skeletal staff. On top of that, refugee settlement among other relocation services have left many in a precarious situation.
The Rise of Remote Work
Before 2020, global mobility was often seen as the ultimate pursuit for both employees and corporations alike. In fact, global mobility remains a major factor in global change and it’s considered an integral part of national economic policy. However, since the onset of the pandemic, the dynamics of the global workforce began to change dramatically as the rise of remote work became the new norm for a large percentage of employees around the world.
The WFA (Work From Anywhere) trend wasn’t completely new as certain populations of the workplace such as: digital nomads have been doing this for years, but as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened, more companies switched their employees to remote work out of safety precautions and new rules and regulations. This allowed employees to have more flexibility and freedom to work from home and avoid any health-related reasons.
Similarly, corporations were adopting new strategies, re-implementing business travel approaches, and mobility options to better their organisational vision and employee needs.
This new change is crucial for modern corporations but there is still a lot of debate as to its practicality – especially towards human mobility. The advent of mobility itself has caused a change in how companies and employees communicate, integrate, and do business, and has led to rapid developments in areas like cybersecurity, software solutions, legal departments, and employee wellbeing.
With so many uncertainties about the future of mobility, one thing is for sure – the future of workforce mobility lies in the hands of the modern and productive employees who have access to tools to take advantage of the collaborative potential of mobile workspaces, as well as training, onboarding, and a mentor network to help them manage their careers in a new way.
Global Mobility Will Change and Remain Changing
The coronavirus outbreak brought a great shock to the world, but most are taking the pandemic as a wake-up call. A salient reminder that the world needs to change and adapt, and it applies similarly to global mobility. Unlike previous years, global mobility will be more impactful with the help of technology – by creating products, systems and services that are making it possible for people to move around with greater ease and efficiency. In other words, technology is transforming global mobility in a better way. From the future of healthcare systems, to smart technologies that improve the quality of life for everyone. Technology is in the process of developing a way to rapidly improve the quality of life in terms of physical mobility and the logistics of communication.
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