by Stephen Fogarty, Scalrr Co-Founder and Executive Recruiter


While the recent RES Forum research paper posits that Global Mobility (GM) is crucial for attracting diverse talent, I believe its focus is too narrow. I agree with the research that GM is still an important factor, especially for multinational organizations, but I believe the paper overstates its relevancy in an immensely fast-changing landscape. There are many levers to address this across Talent Management. GM is a variable, but to state they are two sides of the same coin, I disagree.

The name Global Mobility itself is dated. In today’s world, I’d say it’s more about FLEXIBILITY than MOBILITY. The reality is that the current landscape is changing fast, and GM teams need to adapt and expand their footprint to manage a larger piece of the talent management puzzle. With technology, a higher tolerance for remote work, and workforces adapting to asynchronous work, managers are far more open to working with people from other places without needing them to be right outside their office door. Of course, this doesn’t negate the fact that living and working somewhere else may be attractive to some candidates. It also doesn’t negate the fact that there are still some old-school managers out there who believe if they can’t physically see a person working, then they don’t believe they are working (and apparently seeing them on Zoom doesn’t count). But these can’t be reasons alone to push for global mobility, especially given the cost and complexity.

Innovative companies are making it very easy for people to move around and spend time working from almost anywhere without all the complexities of a longer-term move. Take Airbnb, for example. When Brian Chesky announced that they were moving to fully remote, that they would have hubs that people could stop in and work out of and could work from anywhere a certain amount of time per year, they got 700K applicants within a few days following that announcement. If he announced a global mobility program, it wouldn’t even be in the same universe of attractiveness to talent. The reason it’s appealing is because it’s flexible, not specific. If you work for Airbnb, you can be in Portland, work out of the Portland office, but in the summer, you could go live in Mexico and work from there for two months. Instead of the company spending tons of money on real estate, they can invest in bringing employees together for meaningful connections. In terms of cross-pollinating employees, as the research calls out as important, you can bring people together in many more configurable ways than just moving one person at a time to another country and planting them there.

In this approach, the company also saves money because the employee is making the move themselves; the company isn’t moving them. The company also doesn’t need as much physical space, so in the long run, they can invest this money elsewhere. Many studies have also shown higher productivity of remote work regardless of the naysayers out there who are not reading the zeitgeist in the room. Of course, there are still reasons to have people move to another country when there is a massive skill gap, and you need the talent there, or if it’s just an incredible candidate who wants to live elsewhere. But this should just be part of the arsenal of tools that a GM team has in their back pocket. For these reasons, I’m not convinced of the premise that GM is two sides of the same coin as TM.

What GM teams should become is Global Workforce Flexibility teams, focusing on all the ways you manage flexibility and productivity. What GM teams should be focused on is the most cost-effective way to move people around and that leads to the highest productivity. They should be managing what’s most important in building modern workforces and how to facilitate all types of flexibility, from rotational programs to long-term moves, to remote work, to work-from-anywhere policies, and they should be developing the tools to support it.

The other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that the lightbulbs are on globally about the inequities that are out there. Employees from many countries are tired of companies that have operations in their homeland putting in leaders from the parent organization with the impression that no locals could do the job. So, another part of GM should be monitoring the practices and the impact of these moves. It’s not all rosy, and this should play a bigger role in GM. People want to feel respected, they want flexibility to manage their complex modern lives, and they want to do meaningful work that is based on output versus where, when, and how. They want the tools and culture that value and support this type of work. By embracing these changes, companies can create a more dynamic, inclusive, and productive workforce.


RES Forum research

This piece is taken from the RES Forum research paper Talent Development through GM: key to winning the war for talent? Written by Professors Michael Dickmann and Benjamin Bader, the paper opens with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shades?” From there, the paper outlines the risks of not recognising, using or developing talent and seeks to link talent management with the opportunities found through Global Mobility.

Get your copy of Talent Development through GM: key to winning the war for talent? here:


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