Nurturing the Seeds of Optimism and Collaboration
At this time in my life, I, like us all, could not have possibly envisaged a global pandemic that has rendered many of us helpless and uncertain as to what the future holds. The daily impact of this invisible and unwelcomed virulent COVID-19 Virus, has affected us in every conceivable way. It has decimated health, personal wellbeing and, perhaps more noticeably, our liberty.
Sadness on a global level has been at mind-blowing proportions, with so many having been exposed to, and affected by illness and loss to family members, friends and associates.
This leads me then to the purpose of this musing and deliberation.
The Human Race has embraced adventure, travel and exploration from the early days of historical reference with unimaginable and unquantified rewards beckoning them to risk their lives in pursuit of a dream. It’s fair to say that this degree of ‘mystery’ and to some extent ‘fear,’ has with the passage of time, become far less intimidating and financially burdening than hundreds of years ago. Through evolution, and staggering scientific accomplishment, travelling across borders internationally no longer carried the scale of costs and time attributed to former journeys.
To the current age, it has simply become our way of life. Be it to visit friends and family, taking vacations, or on a larger scale; embarking on career and personal development changes, it carries an appeal that everyone aspires to and willingly integrates into their lifestyle choices. It creates opportunity and exposure to differing climates and cultures. It brings enjoyment from experiences and memories acquired.
The attractions were obvious, and it was hence, without any grand plan, that I entered the world of global mobility some 30 years ago. In this period, I have had the pleasure of working alongside some inspirational individuals and colleagues, where we have been instrumental in driving the wheels of commerce into every continent, allowing companies and corporations of varying size, to establish a footprint in new markets all over the world. As each case was completed, we would come away with an over-riding sense of pride and accomplishment that in some significant way, we were helping a business realise their aspirations, goals and objectives.
It could not have been achieved however, without recognising the fundamental keys to delivering services across the board, aiming high, raising the bar, striving for continuous improvement without compromising or losing our personal values.
Though I have moved away from Relocation per se, the parallels in client interaction and service delivery in immigration are very much the same. We are, and have always been “People moving People”, invested in training, to acquire the expertise and the mechanics to gain and earn trust, alleviating their concerns and removing their worries. Our wish always – to translate their personal desires, hopes and expectations, into reality.
That said, we now find ourselves planning ahead and laying foundations for Recovery from COVID-19.
Where do we find ourselves now? What has changed? What can we expect?
Clearly, the landscape is evidently moving at a frenetic pace. We are all becoming familiar with the altering dynamics, the constant changes, and the phrase being applied- “The NEW NORMAL”, but how will it affect us in global economies, and from our perspective, in the immigration and the mobility industry?
Non-essential travel is discouraged throughout the world and Visa Application centers are closed. We are in a state of intransigence that focuses our attention to review internal procedures, training and best practices. We are actively engaging with our clients and partners to discuss their views and share in zoom conferencing. We are expanding our ‘Best Friends’ network in readiness for the time we will be called upon.
As all businesses in every aspect of commerce have been affected, growth and expansion programmes have been re-visited. Budgets assigned have either been frozen or restructured. Companies are seeking support and guidance as their thinking and planning changes. I sense that it will call for a greater level and degree of collaboration. For our part, in the immigration field; we feel it is imperative that we interact more closely with our clients, to truly understand their evolving culture and re-defined relocation needs. It calls for reviews and audits of current staffing movements, to ‘track and trace’ (to adopt a phrase); to control and manage staffing movements and activity across the global community and borders. To assist them not just in current management, but in forward strategic planning. Recognising that time-line management will be vital, as new critique demands structured processes requiring rigorous controls, to ensure all elements of risk are mitigated.
Due Diligence will be applied at a far higher level when considering Sponsor Licenses, as costings will no longer be the primary factor for determining whether a project or new business venture is to be established.
It is also feasible that ‘a medical passport’ will be necessary to travel, and dare I suggest – essential, prior to embarking on visa applications. Each country will wish to apply their own legislative and compliance regulations, and it is our responsibility to impart this information as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In line with this thinking, it may redefine the whole gamut of international assignee management. It is worth considering that assignments may become shorter than the customary three years for long-haul destinations. It may also lead to a reduction in dependents accompanying the assignee with understandable and natural concerns relating to medical implications. Assignments consequently may become shorter for periodic reviews and personal welfare assessments. An increase in return visits home with travel permits will no doubt, whilst protecting the interests of the Assignee, have a potential impact on efficiencies and abilities to complete tasks through to fruition. In the scheme of things, the ‘Human’ element is now becoming vitally important and this we cannot overlook.
If this were to become mandatory, then this seismic altering of our ‘work/life balance, and prioritizing, is taking on a completely new perspective.
As a service provider, and international Law Firm, our philosophy at Hudson McKenzie, is built on a platform of trust and integrity an ethos many identify with and relate to. Such is the nature of our business, our practices are bound by a code of ethics and standards endorsed and regulated by the Law Society, with all our information qualified before we share and cascade from UKVI, the Home Office, and the Foreign Office.
This unprecedented situation has exacerbated vulnerability. It is so important therefore that we become even more empathetic, tolerant and understanding, as the challenges facing business and their employees have gone way beyond what anyone had previously or ever planned for. A Contingency Programme is all very well, but it is how it is implemented that provides assurances, and with best intentions, security, for all parties involved, that resonates across all the levels.
Though we find ourselves three months down the line, we are still no clearer or able to premeditate when travel will re-commence. We are beholden to, and dependant on medical data, to guide us and help us, determine when we can once again venture abroad.
I retain a positive outlook. We will beat this virus. We will win!
Our fears will subside and our confidence to travel, to explore, to enjoy will return.
Stay safe and well.
We are here for You!