The emergence of ‘mobile employees’

Being mobile doesn’t just mean you’re willing to work from home. A new breed of ‘mobile employees’ would be happy to work wherever – even moving abroad for a number of years.

With globalisation, the rise in remote working and advances in technology, a new breed of remote worker has risen – one that’s happy to travel for work but still wants to keep their home base.

Mobile talent
The PwC Talent Mobility 2020 study found that a big difference between older and younger workers when it came to working away from the office – especially when it comes to travelling abroad for work.

In the past, workers who were assigned to a project abroad might well have moved there for the period of the contract. But the study found that younger workers in a similar position are not wanting to make that move.

They’re happy to keep their home in the UK and be officially based in the UK office, but commute regularly to foreign countries for work. The study claims that by 2020, this type of ‘mobile employee’ will grow by 50%.

The ability to work like this comes down to two factors – regular, affordable and fast flights to major business centres in Europe and further afield; and new technologies that allow telecommuting between countries.

Changing office life
This has led to a change in the way projects are created and allocated. Many contracts are being reduced from 3 to 4 years to around 1 year to allow the people with the right skills to focus on them.

These short-term ‘purpose-based’ assignments are becoming more popular, with 20% of foreign-based assignments lasting less than a year, compared with 10% in 2002.

The ability to work in this way is attractive to young workers, especially Millennials, who are happy to combine travel and work if it’s done right. The PwC study found that ‘mobility opportunities’ can attract the best talent, with 71% of Millennials expecting an overseas assignment during their career.

These opportunities help young people who have committed possibly vast sums of money to buying a house to retain that investment while also having a career that involves travel.

Many companies now realise that if they have an overseas opportunity, the best approach is not to simply assign the person willing to travel for it, but to assign the best person for the project and to fit it around their needs.

This means offering virtual meetings and telecommuting is key, while short term travel to foreign countries is becoming much more common.


Posted by The Secret Businessman