Mobility programs have been the engine of multinational businesses to get the right talent in the right location for decades. But what constitutes ‘mobility’? Nontraditional types of mobility that do not require a formal relocation to another city or country were already exponentially growing before the global pandemic. Enter COVID and the new generation of what it means to be ‘mobile’ − remote work arrangements.
A crisis-driven imperative to quickly facilitate virtual working/working from home on a global scale has shown that working virtually at scale is achievable, and for many employees, desirable. Lockdown measures and travel restrictions will ease, but there has been a fundamental shift in our feelings towards virtual working and many will have lingering concerns on their wellbeing in a crowded office or commuting environment.
The bottom line? Virtual working is becoming the ‘new normal’ and organisations need to embrace it. Over 50% of companies polled in our November survey indicated that their organization already has a policy for remote work arrangements. Remote work arrangements are much broader than traditional mobility programs, and can be an alternative to them. Companies that implement remote work policies can define what ‘remote’ means by tailoring it to their specific needs and business.
Companies should clarify specific criteria, including duration (is the remote work temporary and/or permanent?) as well as location, such as within the United States or within a certain number of miles away from a physical business location. Criteria also should include roles and responsibilities, i.e., specifying those that will fit effectively within remote work parameters.
Although there could be many employees that would want to take advantage of such an arrangement, its scope may be limited to those roles that can be successfully performed without a full-time company office/facility presence and/or do not present regulatory, licensing, or even intellectual property considerations. In addition, there will likely be employees, such as young employees new to the workforce, who will not want to utilize remote work and instead seek an in-person experience.
Virtual assignments have emerged as the latest mobility “type," from assignments and transfers starting virtually to completing the entire assignment from another location. There is still much to assess and set regulations for, even after travel restrictions are lifted.
No ‘one size’ remote worker policy fits all companies, but the upfront effort to get a tailored fit could yield a win-win situation for the company and its talent base due to the strategic business advantages reaped for years and even decades to come. These policies could serve to differentiate those businesses that are agile enough to embrace change quickly and seamlessly.
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PwC launched a global survey to understand how companies are planning their remote work arrangement policies and adapting to the changing needs of their workforce. The survey was open from November 11-25, 2020 and 300 companies participated.