How will Expat Trends Look Like after Covid-19?
The pandemia is having numerous and significant effects on the economic and corporate arena as well as on the personal life of all individuals. Surely, the experiences and adjustments companies and individuals are enduring, will mark future trends and preferences with regards to expatriation and work-related travel.
In the current challenging times, companies have come to realize that they can, for the most part, continue operating, producing and selling without the need of expensive travel and complicated employee relocation. Most enterprises have reinventend themselves and have embraced virtual/tele communication and remote work across the board during 2020. Even the most conventional and old-fashion industries have been able to cope with the difficulties that came with the imposition of generalized travel bans, social distance protocols and restrictions with regards to people gatherings.
As a result of this corporate reinvention following the coronavirus, companies have saved important amounts of money and have been able to reassign resources and financial means in a more efficient way. They will most likely try to keep this new, maybe smarter, way of operating and, in that line, it will not be surprising to witness a decline in expatriate contracts and in business travel in general in the months and years to come.
It would not be correct to argue that international contracts will disappear altogether after this Covid-19 episode, but undoubtedly, they will be rethought. The benefits of global mobility associated with knowledge transfer and experience sharing cannot and will not be dismissed, but expensive expat contracts will be reduced to the minimum necessary. The localization of international employees (i.e. expats signing local contracts and losing some benefits and perks) and the proliferation of short term international/expat assignments or missions will probably become the norm and prevail over long term expat arrangements. In this context, young talents and solo professionals (single or without children) will possibly be more attractive for companies looking to relocate employees to foreign destinations.
As for the expatriate and his/her family, they will be more cautious and more analytical when evaluating possibilities of being transferred overseas. They will, for example, look more carefully at health systems, sanitary regulations and travel possibilities when moving to another country. The economic compensation of an expat will be important but less so than before, as expats will assign a heavier relative weight to factors that could make their lives abroad easier; especially in front of another pandemia or similar global crisis.
In the coming -post Covid-19- future, companies will need to find the right balance between smart expatriation practices/international working contracts and happy and fulfilled mobile employees, in an effort to optimize resources and promote a harmonious and productive “new” working place.