Traffic light sign almost submerged in water beneath the words The CHESS Framework in action – Sustainable Global Mobility, introducing the CHESS Framework. The RES Forum

Written by Paul Barnes, Inspire Global Mobility Consulting

I read the RES Forum’s research on Sustainability in Global Mobility (GM) several times to ensure I fully understood its purpose and goals.

I approached it through the lens of a GM professional managing different sizes and scopes of mobility programs. I also considered the importance of sustainability to each individual and their employer, questioning internal company pressures to develop sustainable initiatives in the mobility program, potentially from senior management or employees. I then considered the priorities of the individual and how much time they have available to focus on sustainability.

The common outcome was that the CHESS Framework © delivered strategic value, through various applications. There is, however, a need for caution when applying the CHESS Framework. As with any model, you can quickly find yourself in a complex situation, facing more questions than answers, which ultimately may delay any action being taken. I recommend keeping your strategic planning simple and at a high level. At least to start with.


A simple, hypothetical example

This hypothesis involves a GM individual working for a global technology and software company. They have very little time, but to meet business goals they need to scope a strategy that will define goals, engage / add value to stakeholders and start to deliver sustainable initiatives.

Their priority is to reduce the environmental impact of their company’s mobility program. Environmental focus has consistently been the highest priority for companies, as evidenced in the AIRINC-EY survey1 with 63% extremely focused on environmental sustainability objectives. Their initial focus is the big-ticket area of travel and how this can be reduced.

They review the level of travel within mobility policies and discover that commuters account for a high level of travel within the business and that it is common for commuter assignments to be extended. They analyse the number of commuter assignments that are extended and the number of flights per month. This leads them to evaluating the possible benefits of more effective planning, then deciding that potentially a percent of commuters that were extended should have been short term assignments. At this stage they consider wider stakeholders and review their findings across the elements of the CHESS Framework, with interesting findings on all elements.

Their first step is to engage with HRBPs and others who control the strategic deployment of employees and business travel. All stakeholders review business travel as they know a considerable percent of business travel is for engineers to visit client sites for the installation, testing and maintenance of hard and software, and that the work often over runs. Upon further review it is decided that the business needs to consider commuters rather than business travel (for certain categories of work) to reduce travel and potentially cost to the business. The next step could be the review of commuters and the scenarios that could be considered for short term assignments.


A route to collaboration

The outcome is that the CHESS Framework will ensure a strategic approach and that, even if time is limited, it will identify risks and opportunities, and mitigate against unintended consequences. Importantly it provides a route to collaboration and developing solutions that have wider social and environmental impact that make economic sense for the company.

If you feel that the CHESS Framework is too wide ranging for your stage of planning or developing your strategy, then I recommend starting with the 3ps, People, Planet, Profit or ESG, Environment, Social, Governance. Then, as your strategy evolves, you can easily move this to the CHESS Framework.

1AIRINC, EY Sustainability & Global mobility, September 2022 benchmark survey.


RES Forum research

This piece was written as an accompaniment piece to the RES Forum’s research paper – Sustainable Global Mobility, introducing the CHESS Framework. You can download the paper here.


About Paul Barnes

With over 30 years industry experience, Paul followed his passion for sustainability which led him to start the Inspire Global Mobility Consultancy.

Paul has a particular interest in the Circular Economy, Scope 1, 2, 3 emissions, SBTi, UN Global Compact, UN Sustainable Development goals, and Sustainability Assessment.

A conference and webinar speaker, writer of articles on sustainability and RFPs in mobility, published and quoted by EuRA, FIDI, FEM, International Bar Association, International HR Adviser magazine, NextGen and Mover Magazine. Creator of the industry first sustainability educational program for EuRA which was released in January 2022.

Paul works with Global Mobility professionals and service providers who need to change their thinking, practices, and policies to deliver a positive sustainable future.