Consumer tech and Millennials forcing global mobility to evolve

Millennials want more flexibility and personalisation from international assignments

Consumer technology is having a “trickle-down” effect on global mobility (GM), creating a need for organisations to personalise and provide more flexibility around the employee experience, according to Equus Software's VP of technology Oliver Trundley.

Speaking at the RES Forum's 2018 annual report launch event, Trundley cited two key trends happening in the world of work that are forcing GM to evolve.

“The digital revolution in consumer technology is changing the workplace,” he said. “Employees expect to work in the same way as they do to connect with things in their everyday, consumer lives.”

Trundley gave the example of chatbots entering the workplace, giving employees 24/7 access to information and the ability to “interact with something that gives answers in a similar way to humans”.

These developments in workplace technology coupled with changing workplace demographics are triggering more interest in GM opportunities, Trundley explained.

He pointed to research that shows that by 2025 75% of the global workforce will be Millennials. “Millennials have certain expectations of their workplaces, including flexibility around how they work and an ability to work elsewhere,” he explained.

“Technology is making cross-border opportunities easier. So Millennials are asking: ‘if it doesn’t matter if I work in London or Scotland then why is it different if I say I want to work in Brazil?’ This is coming up more and more as something younger employees expect.”

Trundley explained that young people want more flexible benefits from international assignments, including personalised options such as travel upgrades.

The audience agreed, with one attendee saying they’d seen a shift in more young employees wanting to go overseas for just one year for the personal experience, and not wanting to relocate belongings or having family to take with them.

These factors are pushing GM to personalise the employee experience and broaden the options available to international assignees, Trundley continued.

However, this is creating challenges for GM, he said, referencing the example of when GM has a plan and policy for a certain country and length of time, but an employee wants to make plans themselves.

For example, employees increasingly want to find their own accommodation, such as through Airbnb, so they can choose somewhere they want to live. While this can often be cheaper it raises issues around compliance and risk, Trundley said.

He added that this is also a trend happening among short-term business visitors, suggesting that where “GM has often hidden from short-term business visitors it will need to be pulled into this area more”.

This is because, he continued, as short-term business visitors also demand flexibility and extend their stays they can cross into being classed as assignees. “How can you then come in and manage that without being involved from the start?” he asked.

Another key way to make the employee experience more personal, Trundley said, is GM leaders better leveraging data so that they both hold all information in one place and use it to drive better-informed plans and policies.