International remote working here to stay | Ruth Holmes – Re:locate Magazine

KPMG International has released new insights on international remote-working practice as flexibility and hybrid working options become crucial to talent management and employee experience.

Among the key takeaways is that rather than diminish the appetite for global mobility and international relocation, virtual and remote working practices can be dynamic tools for meeting employer and employee needs around talent attraction and retention, and boosting cross-border working.“The digital economy and infrastructure are expanding and facilitating opportunities for making remote working accessible to a wider pool of employees who see value in relocating and working remotely from one or more different locations,” comments Daida Hadzic, EMA Head of Quality, Global Mobility Services and Director KPMG Meijburg & Co. 


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Remote working policies on the rise

The report, Current Trends in Remote Working, amalgamates the views of over 500 companies in 46 jurisdictions participating in the business advisory’s 2021 webcast survey and includes expert commentary on the implications of the rise of international remote working.It finds that 89% of companies have already introduced a remote working policy (37%) or are currently considering one (52%), suggesting respondents are taking a long-term view of their remote working strategy.Perhaps unsurprisingly, employers in the Telecommunications and Technology sector are leading the adoption of remote working globally. Almost two-thirds (64%) of companies have moved to the implementation stage against the all-sector average of 37%. 

Why remote working policies now?

Globally, the primary reason employers are introducing remote working policies is in response to employee requests (25%). For 21%, Covid-19 restrictions are the most important motivation. A further 18% say that employer branding and talent attraction is the key driver. While people factors drive two of the top three reasons, this picture is not consistent across regions. In Asia Pacific, for example, restricted movement is the key reason for remote working requests (36%), compared to interest from employees (20%) and employer branding (12%). Commenting on some of the reasons why patterns are different in Asia Pacific countries, Murray Sarelius, Head of People Services, KPMG China, says that respondents in the region have a higher tendency towards remote work through virtual assignments and permanent remote workers than the EMA and Americas regions. Quarantine requirements have also caused people to reshape their travel plans and extend their time in offshore locations or on business trips. “Consequently, employees are looking to employers to allow extended periods of working award from their usual country of work and employers are looking to alternative work and hiring arrangements…This opens the door for employers to access a broader talent pool and employees to seek global employment opportunities without leaving home.” 

Maintaining compliance and communication in a complex world

The increase in remote/cross-border working and extended business trips means compliance from a tax and legal standpoint is the greatest challenge for organisations introducing remote working, affecting 38% of respondents. For 21%, the key issue is establishing efficient processes and support for remote working.Highlighting practical responses to both of these issues, Michelle Berners-Price, EMA Head of Business and Travel Services and Partner, KPMG in the UK, says companies are relaxing their policies in response to employee needs to make remote working policies as inclusive and supportive of cross-border working as possible. Technology has an important role in making this happen by streamlining processes for global mobility teams and other stakeholders.“Since the requirements and needs of all companies differ, the choice of suitable technology tools is crucial,” comments Michelle Berners-Price. “Besides single-focused solutions for specific questions, such as risk assessment, travel tracking and cost estimation, fully automated approaches that cover the entire range of workflows and case management can be considered. This ensures not only compliance, but also cost savings.” 

Proactive messaging

Describing KPMG’s work with a UK client, Michelle Berners-Price says employees are now able to submit requests for cross-border remote working for up to 30 days. “It will significantly reduce the time spent reviewing each case and will allow the company to offer flexible working much more broadly than they would have been able to do so far.”Communication, as well as technology, is also clearly an important consideration for establishing efficiency and engagement with remote working policies. One size does not fit all when it comes to remote working policy application and implementation, so working with all stakeholders and leaders in the business, including in immigration, payroll and data security, is key if remote working is to fulfil business needs and fit with company culture.“It’s clear the market is moving towards a hybrid model and remote working is here to stay, says Kshipra Thareja, Managing Director of Global Mobility Services, KPMG in the US. “This new business model requires proactive messaging, regular updates on how the pandemic is evolving and impacting business decisions, and any return-to-office/remote/hybrid plans. Companies should also ask for regular feedback from their workforce, so employees feel part of shaping their future.”

If you have a people-centred approach to driving success across your organisation and understand the importance of wellbeing in all its forms for talent to flourish, then why not enter the Think Global People and Relocate Awards. There are ten categories to choose from. Join us on 9 June for the results and the Future of Work Festival.


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