Companies with global operations and business travelers are finding new ways to deal with the potentially negative impact of the pandemic. With the rise of remote work, international business trips have been replaced with conference calls and video conferencing technology.
However, technology can’t replace all global business. Functions like equipment installation, quality control on a production line, or systems testing simply can’t be accomplished over video. While business travel is not impossible, in many places employees must quarantine for 14 days after arrival before starting work.
It is often said that “necessity is the mother of invention” and these challenges are forcing us to find solutions to getting the job done. Here are some tips:
1. Get the facts in advance – The most important first step is to plan ahead. It is possible that the process of obtaining a work visa and/or permit will be slower given backlogs due to COVID 19. While it is not always achievable, companies should plan as far in advance to prevent immigration surprises. Check with your immigration counsel before committing to a client contract or signing an employment contract.
2. Communicate to all employees – Besides a potential two-week quarantine, new requirements may mean an employee needs a visa where none was needed in the past, or they could encounter delays in visa approval. Updated policies and information regarding these challenges should be shared with not only HR and legal personnel but also company managers and recruiters.
Business travel, transfers and new hire requirements should be checked first before making commitments or signing contracts with clients. In companies where employees are allowed to book their own international travel without managerial approval, the COVID 19 policy and travel requirements must be clearly expressed to all employees.
3. Utilize a system to track employees – The pandemic has magnified the need to have a system in place to track and manage employees’ global movement. The pandemic spread so quickly that some companies did not know where their employees were in the world, when their visas were expiring, or how to get them home. Tracking your employees provides the information and tools needed to make informed decisions.
While we can’t predict how long the pandemic will last or what will happen to global workforces who must face immigration delays and quarantines, we can adapt and find ways around these challenges, as humans know how to do all too well.