Global mobility is a crucial part of international business growth—make sure you know how to create, and deploy, your strategy.

The international business landscape has opened up to organizations of every size and shape—making expansion across borders more and more common. Business growth of any kind brings both opportunities and challenges, not least those involved in the process of moving and managing employees across locations, potentially in different corners of the world.

With this in mind, a mobility strategy should be a priority for any business with an international footprint, or thinking of creating one. Your approach must take into account not only your business’ needs, including tax and legal compliance, but the personal needs of the employees who will constitute your global workforce.

Building a global mobility strategy means juggling a range of complicated factors, from helping employees find accommodation in their new location, to ensuring compliance with the small detail of a new tax environment. Check out these six tips to help you and your employees make the international move a success.

1. Understand your mobility needs

Developing a global mobility strategy involves deciding exactly what kind of mobility your business is going to need, including how many employees you will need to be factored in, and what kind of global movement is being considered. Definitions of global mobility can range from:

  • Daily commutes: Employees who reside in one country and cross a border to attend work.
  • Business travel: Employees on short trips to a foreign country, for business purposes, lasting days or weeks.
  • Short-term assignments:  Employees on semi-permanent postings in foreign countries, lasting weeks or months.
  • Permanent relocation: Employees permanently assigned to positions in foreign countries.

2. Establish your overseas presence

Another important early priority is to understand what kind of overseas presence your business will take in its new location and, by extension, the legislative environment in which your employees will be working:

  • The legal structure your business assumes will have tax implications for your employees – so should be a priority consideration for your global mobility strategy.
  • The legislative environment may also affect what type of work your overseas employees can carry out, and may affect the way you mobilize them, especially in terms of duration.

3. Stay on top of immigration

Matters relating to international immigration should be at the center of your global mobility strategy, and can involve issues as trivial as helping employees find their ideal apartment or house in their new location, or as important as making sure their families are able to make the move with them. Your strategy should also be prepared to facilitate the significant administrative work necessary to meet your employees’ immigration needs. Considerations in this respect include:

  • Work and residence permits
  • Letters of sponsorship from employers
  • Background medical and financial checks
  • Political and legal procedures for employees of certain nationalities

4. Consider international logistics

Beyond administrative and legal groundwork, your global mobility strategy should also incorporate the logistical challenges of moving employees across the globe. To this extend you should think about including:

  • Subsistence and living allowances for employees in overseas locations
  • Relocation allowances, including personal travel and shipping for belongings
  • Transport allowances in destination locations—public vs personal transport
  • Accommodation allowances—employees may be offered access to employer-owned property, or receive assistance with private accommodation.

5. Ensure payroll compliance

One of the central purposes of a global mobility strategy is to coordinate the payroll, tax, and social security compliance obligations of employees working in foreign territories, and those working in home locations.

  • Tax rates will play a large part in the attractiveness, of an overseas location to mobilizing employees—your global mobility strategy should take into account the advantages and disadvantages offered by target destinations.
  • Develop compensation packages which work with the tax landscape of your mobilization locations to ensure employees remain satisfied, including the currency of payment.
  • Consider local tax mechanisms that might be implemented as part of your strategy, including tax protection and equalization schemes, and ‘local plus’ tax schemes.
  • Consider residency rules when determining tax and payroll obligations. ‘Resident’ employees (who spend more than six months in a foreign territory) will likely be taxed on all worldwide income, while non-residents will only be taxed on income earned within that location.

6. Maintain employee satisfaction

Your mobilized employees will have a range of needs which are different to employees working in home locations—to maintain employee satisfaction your global mobility strategy should work to address those needs.

  • Think about integrating factors which will help employees settle in their new location, such as language lessons, proximity to local amenities and sports facilities, provision (and speed) of internet connection, and other items which can affect quality of life.
  • If family members are moving with your mobilizing employee, provisions for children’s education might be another priority. Many foreign business locations have international schools to accommodate this need, while some employers also offer stipends to use for child education purposes.

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