Top Executives Torn Between New Normal and Old RealityBy Daniel González | Tue, 08/04/2020 - 12:54
“I miss business meals and physical presence at meetings; I miss travel too.” This phrase, pronounced to Mexico Business News by a senior executive of a large Mexican company who prefers to remain anonymous, sums up the sentiment that many employees in Mexico are going through as they struggle between the new normality and the old reality. The pandemic and its consequences have changed work routines for millions of workers around the world. The entrance of the new normality in many countries has opened up new questions: Do work trips compensate for physically attending a one-hour meeting in another country? How can a company protect an employee who is abroad in the face of possible border closings? What type of medical insurance is necessary to travel abroad and to receive care in the event of contagion? Will the growth of Zoom, Google Meet, Skype and other platforms forever change our traditional ways of working? Will companies be able to continue moving personnel between countries as easily as before?
“In times as complex and uncertain as these, it is necessary to digitally monitor the different obligations of the company in relation to its displaced employees, from visa applications and retentions to the different communications at the work level. It is important to foresee the possible risks involved in any mobility process in terms of immigration, tax, labor and social security areas,” said Lourdes Corral, Director of People Services at KPMG Abogados, in a report from the company.
According to Mercer consulting firm, expatriate employees may be the most affected in the new reality. In its report ‘Talent Mobility: Looking Ahead’, Mercer says in the post-COVID-19 world, large companies should value the importance of expatriate mobility. “Do international workers contribute to business resilience or are they a weak link in times of crisis?” Mercer asks. “There is no simple answer to that question. However, thinking about resilience should be part of the discussion when establishing a global mobility program,” reports the consulting firm.
One of the great disruptions that has been brought by the COVID-19 crisis is the implementation of teleworking in record time regardless of the idiosyncrasies of each country. In just a few weeks, a large part of the planet’s workforce began working from home, thus limiting the impact of the crisis. “The talent, capabilities and potential of the people who make up companies already occupied one of the most relevant positions on the companies’ agenda. But the emergence of a global pandemic and the need to confine the population have shown how, truly, people are the engine of companies,” explained KPMG in one of its reports. However, the great change as a result of the virus has not been the result of consensus between employees and employers, but rather the result of necessity. This nuance is key for Javier Hervás, Partner at KPMG Abogados. “The situation we have experienced is the result of an exercise in reacting to the crisis and not of a consensus between company and worker. For this reason, it is still early to know how teleworking fits within regulations,” Hervás says in the report ‘Managing People at a Key Moment’.
In the current context, Tedros Adhanom, Director General of WHO, said “there may never be a solution to COVID-19.” People themselves have become the great unresolved issue for many companies' human resources departments. Because of this, adapting these departments to the new reality is key. The ease of providing technology that allows workers to perform their tasks from home, the empathy to understand the reconciliation between family and work life, the measures needed to ensure the medical safety of expatriates and the facilities to respect the specific medical needs of each worker will be essential in the new world that is coming.”