The world is now living through a global virus crisis, which may be both an under and over statement. Doubtless many reading this will take a Keep Calm and Carry On attitude.
HCR has combed the web to find the best sources of advice and guidance on how Mobility and Relocation managers can help their organisations and companies manage the inevitable risks in such an uncertain environment. In times of crisis there is much to be gained from using commonsense but whilst there is always sense around, it may not always be very common.
Companies with substantial international work mobile forces are likely to have set up task forces or a management structure that facilitates rapid decision making such as when and how to evacuate staff if required.
Information is key in a situation as in the Corona Virus scenario when there is such a rapid change in events. It may be helpful for companies to agree on specific information sources (Foreign Office, WHO etc) that are regarded as most reliable. In this sense informal social media outlets can he unhelpful by the sharing of unchecked information. This is a particular lesson to be learned from the experience in China.
It will be vital to know where all employees (and families if relevant) are at any time. This is particularly true of business travellers.
In their briefing to companies (link) PWC recommend appointing named contact people to handle related queries with agreed guidance on how to advise staff on what to do in circumstances, for example, where they are vulnerable to being unable to leave locked down cities.
Keep communicating pro-actively projecting a theme that normality will return, probably sooner rather than later.
Quarantine advice should be followed closely as this will likely change with short notice. Staff should be self-quarantined according to government advice and travel to high risk countries curtailed.
It is highly likely that many staff will have to work remotely as home quarantining appears to be the most effective at the time of writing. Ensure home working polices are up to date and the right technical support available.
Be wary of unhelpful prejudices being voiced. At times of crisis prejudice, xenophobia and bigotry will raise their ugly head. HR and Line Management will have to be on their toes to stamp out any signs of such an attitude.
If you have recalled staff back to their home country from a foreign assignment you should check on their tax status at both home and host jurisdictions. This article from the Global Payroll Association-Blick Rothenberg is helpful in this regard.
Have advanced plans in place so that employees can return to their foreign locations as soon as the immediate crisis is lifted. If you intend on moving employees to countries with complex immigration procedures once normality returns, now is the time to apply for visas and work permits.
Relocating and Relocated Employees
Depending on where the employee is currently situated, it is highly likely that normal life may be disrupted for a period of time. Don’t be too concerned, normality will return eventually.
Do your best to identify the most reliable sources of information available both locally and internationally. Be very wary of social media posts and member groups as these have been shown to distribute the most alarmist and fake material.
Comply with all local health requirements (e.g wearing of face masks) as best you can even if you do not think they are effective.
It is very likely that many schools will be shut for a period of time but again experience in China has shown that remote learning can be an effective if minimalist substitute.
We are already seeing delays at some ports as workers are isolated or ill. This is affecting transit times and may mean assignees are waiting for Household Goods Shipment longer than anticipated with the inevitable knock on effects in terms of cost, assignee satisfaction and well-being.
If you are locked down into one location identify the reliable source of basic items such as food stuffs and water. In China many cities closed restaurants for a period but then allowed food home deliveries subject to certain conditions.
If you are confined to your accommodation for an extended period for quarantine do not forget your own mental health. This advice issued by one of the state governments in Australia offers excellent comprehensive advice on how to cope in this situation.
Relocation Services in the UK @Friday 6th March
We have noted a just a couple impacts on Relocation services in the UK so far.
A Landlord refused entry to inspect a property “because he might be infected with Coronavirus”
Some International Schools are apparently no longer showing prospective parents around schools in case of possible CoVid-19 transmission
Allegedly some supermarkets have run out of toilet paper, but the photos on social media do not seem to be current. However, Hand sanitizer is already hard to find in some areas.
However, as the disease takes hold in the UK you can be sure there will be more restrictions and actions taken by the authorities and individuals.