With the year-end in sight, it’s time to look forward to what’s shaping the world of global mobility in 2023 — what are companies and organizations focusing on to be better prepared to meet the demands of the future; what are the technologies and trends guiding how we think about global mobility, and how we serve the globally mobile.

Global mobility has shifted forms and priorities since the pre-pandemic years — new ways of working and traveling have put their mark on the industry, as have recent world events. So while global mobility is on the rise it still continues to face a number of difficulties with lingering pandemic effects, economic challenges, the war in Ukraine, and a global climate crisis all affecting business and mobility decisions. 

If there is anything the last few years of uncertainty and struggle have taught us, it is to stay nimble and willing to reassess. Building resilience for the future means being aware of the issues that are influencing it; below are some of them. 

Talent Retention, Not Acquisition 

One of the things to be aware of is that after several years of talent acquisition being a top priority for many companies, that has now shifted to employee retention. 41% of respondents in the annual report from Lattice said that employee engagement is their main focus (only 17% said the same about talent acquisition). A full 86% of HR teams say they are working on improving employee engagement for next year. 

For employers, this means a greater focus on providing what employees are looking for, such as flexibility in the form of hybrid work and “work anywhere programs,” a company culture that aligns with employee values, and opportunities for continued learning. 

The User/Customer Experience in Focus

The user/customer experience is becoming increasingly important and here technology is playing a big part. The role of technology is expanding and going from being used as a great tool for streamlining processes and providing information to becoming more immersive and interactive. Bernard Marr says in an article on LinkedIn: “Transformational digital technologies do not exist in isolation from each other, and we will see the boundaries between them blurring. New solutions for augmented working, hybrid and remote working, business decision-making, and automation of manual, routine, and creative workloads combine these technologies in ways that enable them to enhance each other.”

Artificial Intelligence 

AI, in one form or another, looks to be part of every business solution. Its many applications can impact everything from efficiency and productivity to delivery and presentation. Bernard Marr says in his article on LinkedIn: “[B]usinesses must ensure they embed the right technology throughout their processes and in every area of operations. At this point, there is very little excuse for being in business and not having an understanding of how AI [ . . . ] will impact your business and industry.”

HR Analytics Tools 

Continuing with technology, digital tools for HR analytics are becoming crucial as they can be used to enable greater transparency when it comes to such things as equity and compensation. And they can allow for diverse performance indicators and data integration. 

ESG Is Here to Stay

ESG as in Environmental, social, and Governance (and the larger expanse of these concepts) will continue to grow in importance for all industries. Employees and clients alike demand companies take responsibility. Every business should have an actionable plan with goals and timeframes that are well communicated. Many feel the global mobility arm of companies is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of these actions, as this blog post on theresforum.com indicates: “Global mobility policies and procedures already form a melting pot of organization-wide strategy and policies in the delivery of assignment programs. So it follows that the inclusion of ESG in our thinking and actions is a natural evolution of how we work.” 

“Green” Business Travel 

Business travel is making a comeback and is expected to increase by 33.8% by the end of this year according to GBTA (Global Business Travel Association). One of the concerns now that people are starting to move around on short-term trips again is how to make this type of travel more “green.” For now, much has to do with building awareness around transportation options. For example, promoting train travel instead of flying where that is an alternative. Or carpooling; in the US for example, 81% of business trips are taken using the traveler’s own vehicle. 

How we Ship Goods is Changing

There is a shift in how we ship goods and what kind of goods we ship across the planet. The last few years’ difficulties with freight by sea, in combination with airfreight becoming more affordable, have meant people are forgoing sea freight to a greater degree and are using airfreight instead. At the same time, many who are relocating are opting to mostly bring personal items of sentimental value, and are leaving big pieces of furniture and household goods behind. 

Flexible Work

Flexible work conditions have become a tool for recruitment and retention and as work-life balance is becoming increasingly important to workers, so is the ability to have a flexible work situation.

The Digital Nomad Trend Continues  

The number of digital nomads worldwide has gone from 7.3 million in 2019 to some 35 million by the end of 2022. This is a form of work that is expected to keep growing and for employers, it means adjusting internal and external policies to meet the needs and requirements this brings. (Read more on what this entails here). It’s interesting to note that 73% say they pursue the digital nomad lifestyle because they want a better work-life balance, and 55% give their love of travel as one of their top reasons.

By: Felicia Shermis



Worldwide ERC 


HR Executive 

The RESForum

It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s nonetheless the case that the Coronavirus pandemic has helped usher in a new era of global mobility. In the same way that remote work became the go-to in many industries during the pandemic, remote cross-border work took hold as well. And as the pandemic kept going, cross-border work kept adjusting and evolving. By now, working from a third-country location, extended business trips, cross-border commuter arrangements, etc., have become part of the employment landscape. For businesses, this means a new set of compliance laws to figure out, and employer responsibilities to review and modify to reflect the new reality.

With the traditional form of long-term expat assignments, immigration, tax, and social security implications for the assignee and the employer alike were understood and addressed in advance. Staying compliant was relatively easy because the parameters were largely known.  But, as the concept of global mobility has expanded, issues of compliance (in all its forms) and employer responsibilities have become increasingly complex from both a regulatory standpoint which includes such things as duty-of-care, tax, immigration, and wellness, and an organizational standpoint with internal global mobility policies and their application in focus. 

As the expanded pool of international work options is likely here to stay, many organizations are in need of redefining their concept of global mobility and the policies and practices that safeguard it, not just to stay compliant but to stay competitive and resilient for the future. 

Just as the pandemic was a conduit for remote work on a broader scale, it also highlighted the question of lifestyle priorities for many. A 2021 survey by McKinsey shows that some 30% of employees (the percentage varies between 25-32 depending on where in the world you ask the question) would consider switching jobs if they had to return to full-time on-site work. 

The same survey shows that 51% of employees want a better work-life balance, which for many is synonymous with having more flexible work circumstances, including being able to work abroad. Millennials are at the forefront of the changes taking place. They are highly mobile and by 2025, are going to be 75% of the workforce. Of those, 59% say they are willing to work abroad according to a Deloitte Study from 2021.

In short, flexible work — domestically and abroad — has become a tool to attract, retain, and develop talent. 

While the “new” global working arrangements are often more cost-effective for the employer compared to traditional expat assignments, they do pose challenges that, if left unaddressed, can be detrimental to both the individual and the organization. In global mobility roundtable discussions held by BDO (Binder Dijker Otte) at the end of 2021 (outlined in this Bloombergtax.com article), participants shared that they were struggling to identify the location of their employees at any given time. Not knowing the location of your workforce in real time can be costly in several ways, from tax liabilities to compliance issues to disaster logistics. 

Andrew Bailey and James Hourigan from BDO write in the Bloombergtax.com article: “Absent a business tracking its employees’ movements, then one or more of its mobile employee workforce can inadvertently trigger employer obligations in the overseas jurisdiction without the business being aware of any repercussions. For example, the business may not be aware that it is liable to withhold tax (and social security) from an employee’s salary, and non-compliance may result in penalties being imposed on the business from the foreign country authority. It could also lead to an employee being present in another country without the appropriate work visa. Such incidences of non-compliance could result in the business and its mobile employee workforce being sanctioned, such that the business is not permitted to conduct business in the foreign country and/or is liable to a financial penalty. Indeed it is not uncommon to hear of employees being deported in such instances.”

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing global mobility issues as different countries have different tax and immigration rules, and no two companies operate under the same conditions. What organizations should do, if they haven’t yet, is take a long look at existing mobility programs and then update and adjust where needed to ensure they are fit for purpose, keeping in mind duty-of-care, tax issues, immigration, employee wellness, etc.

Some of the areas to cover include 

  • laying out what encompasses international work; 
  • defining the concepts of “extended business trip”, “commuter assignment”, “short- and long-term assignments”, “working from a third country”, etc.;
  • determining the conditions and liabilities for each type of work;
  • communicating to ensure all team members are aware of what the policies look like and what individuals’ responsibilities are.

By: Felicia Shermis



McKinsey study: https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/what-employees-are-saying-about-the-future-of-remote-work

Bloomberg tax: https://news.bloombergtax.com/daily-tax-report-international/rethinking-tax-the-future-of-employee-global-mobility

Deloitte Study: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/tax/deloitte-uk-global-mobility-trends-2021-report.pdf

Globiana coach Shannon Mayer is the first to admit that when she moved from her native Canada to Nicaragua in 2016, she was not prepared for what was in store. With a background in HR and with her own coaching consulting business, she had plenty of experience in guiding people through career moves, life transitions, and relocations. Yet, the words she used to describe how she felt when starting out in Nicaragua were “I might as well have landed on the Moon.” That’s how different navigating life in the Central American country was as a new arrival.

The relocation came about because Shannon’s partner, Michael, had bought property in the capital Managua with the desire to open a boutique hotel. Shannon decided to follow along as she could bring her consulting business with her; although, she ended up putting that on hold when first arriving, to help get the hotel off the ground. 

The only experience either of them had with the hospitality world was Shannon’s prior HR consulting for companies in the field. Needless to say, they had a lot to learn. And it turned out that even though they were both very familiar with the country, having visited many times, living there, and setting up and running a business were vastly different from any of their prior experiences.

The disparities between how most people live everyday life in Nicaragua vs Canada are great. Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America and access to basic services can be a daily challenge for many. “How society at large functions is of course impacted by this, and running a business in this environment, coming from a country like Canada, was a big adjustment for us,“ says Shannon. The first year in particular was a big learning curve as they had to figure out how to open bank accounts, apply for residence status, certify their business, access needed services, and find staff.

For Shannon, the first year came with other adjustments as well. Looking back, she says she hadn’t prepared well for leaving and she wasn’t really ready. She describes herself as a trailing spouse with reservations about the life she found herself living: “I had done the practical work needed, such as selling our house, but not the emotional work. It’s like I was holding back even though I knew it was happening. There is an expression in global mobility that says ‘leave well to land well’ — I did not do that.” Shannon explains that she wishes she had engaged with people at home earlier and kept the family in the loop of what was happening before the move. 

Since their move, Nicaragua has experienced social unrest which led to a recession and to tourism being cut off for about six months; and of course, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a great impact on the country, as it has everywhere. Starting up a hotel during these times has had its challenges, to say the least. But, as Shannon and her partner have gotten settled and learned the ins and outs of running a business in Nicaragua, and the circumstances beyond their control have stabilized, their hotel has flourished and is now #2 on Trip Advisor. 

And, says Shannon, “I have my own business as well, which is my passion and once again my main focus. Coaching remotely has worked out really well.” And, as an added bonus, her experiences of moving and setting up a business abroad have been of great value to her coaching, as they allow for a unique perspective in supporting other relocating executives. 

Settling in Nicaragua has been a journey filled with some bumps in the road, many discoveries, and sweet successes. It’s led to great friendships and a deeper understanding of a different culture. By now, Shannon says, “I am happy to call this my home base.”

Shannon’s advice when making an international move:

  1. Check your “why” — be clear about why you want to move.
  2. Do your homework — vacationing and living/starting a business in a country are two very different experiences. Try to get a sense of the value system of the new country, the living culture, and the work culture; think about how you will deal with language barriers, and how they may impact your experience.
  3. Leave well to land well — it’s important to feel support from the people you are “leaving behind”. Saying goodbye “well”, and having a plan for how to stay in touch with those closest to you will be a great help to your well-being and ability to cope.
  4. Plan what you are going to do with your stuff — one of the things you need to educate yourself on is customs rules for household goods. All countries have different rules for what you can bring. Also, make a plan for things you can’t/don’t want to take with you.

By: Felicia Shermis

The political turmoil and social unrest that has beleaguered the United States in the past few years have brought some key issues to the forefront for assignees looking to relocate here. We have noticed this firsthand at Globiana as our coaches are getting an increasing number of questions about topics such as school safety, racial inequality, and abortion rights. People are wondering how to keep their kids and themselves safe. For employers who want to attract and retain talent, it’s clear that they need to address these concerns upfront. 

Because people have such strong personal feelings and opinions about these topics, a company’s response will have an impact beyond policy-making and benefit offerings. In the era of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), internal actions, as well as public response, matter when employees weigh whether to join, stay, or relocate with an organization.

For many companies, all of this combined means there is work to do to determine where they stand and to institute policies that deliver the support needed to employees and their families. Some current issues are discussed below.  

Safety/Gun Violence

Lax gun laws and the prevalence of guns and gun violence in the US have many thinking twice about relocating here. One of the common concerns voiced recently is school safety as it relates to guns. While school safety encompasses much more than gun violence, such as bullying, cyber security, and student well-being, it is gun violence that is often front and center when people are asking about safety in US schools. 

What companies and/or their relocation partners can do to help parents is to provide factual information about US gun laws; inform about that gun laws are state-specific and vary greatly depending on where you are; and if available, provide access to data about the relationship between state laws and occurrence of gun violence. Also, guidance on how to go about finding out what local school districts/schools are doing to promote safe campuses is key. 

In addition, connecting assignees with people who have experience with the local community and local schools can be effective in alleviating concerns. Providing coaching can also be a strategy for addressing questions related to worries about gun violence and personal safety. Educating managers is important to ensure they have the tools needed to answer questions and provide support once an employee is in place.

Health Care/Abortion Rights

With the recent Supreme Court reversal of Roe vs. Wade, the decision about abortion rights now lies at a state level in the US. About half the states are expected to ban abortion or severely restrict it. For HR departments/benefits providers, this means they have a big task to determine how to navigate the new landscape and what it ultimately means for the organization and its employees.

For those considering relocating to the US, questions such as how this may impact quality of life, equality, and wellness care, are common and an important part of the decision-making process.

When it comes to abortion rights, company leadership and HR departments will be tackling everything from personal beliefs, legal questions, privacy concerns, and budgeting issues, to a general uncertainty of what’s in store, as no one quite knows what the future holds; many wonder if other reproductive and lifestyle rights are at risk of being restricted in the coming years in the US.

Strategies for addressing the current situation include

  • Determining where your state falls with regard to abortions
  • Understanding where your employees stand on the issue
  • Understanding/formulating where you as a company stand on the issue and communicating this clearly
  • Looking at what your healthcare and other benefits currently include and consider if you need to expand/adjust your plans, and then communicate any changes clearly

Determining what kind of support to provide and how to adjust benefits plans accordingly is one of the main tasks facing companies right now. Many are looking at how they can ensure access to abortion by providing financial and travel assistance to go out of state. Because it is still uncertain what the legal ramifications are with those strategies, many are also considering things such as increased health savings account contributions, more paid leave, paid parental leave, and child care benefits. Some companies are going the other way and are removing abortion coverage altogether from their healthcare plans. Clear communication regarding what the policies look like is crucial so that employees can make informed decisions.

Racial Inequality

Racial inequality is not a new topic in American society but it has perhaps gotten renewed attention in the last few years, and for many considering relocation, it’s a real concern. Not only are they worried about what it might mean for their personal safety, but there is also the knowledge that the systemic racism that exists in society at large also exists within many companies. You don’t need to look further than the well-publicized résumé study by economists Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, to get a glimpse of the problem. In the study, applicants with White-sounding names received 50% more callbacks for interviews than equally qualified applicants with Black-sounding names.

While the recent focus on DEI efforts in the corporate world has brought some level of awareness to workplaces and even prompted a call to action, many have yet to take meaningful steps forward in addressing racism. There is a general model for how to begin the process of achieving workplace equity, as described on hbr.org, and in simplified terms, it is based on 1) understanding the problem and where it comes from, 2) developing real concern for the people it’s harming, and 3) figuring out how to correct the problem. 

Traditionally, organizations have kept mum on issues that can seem controversial to employees and customers. But, a recent survey from Perceptyx found that a majority of workers wanted their companies to take a public stand on current issues, even when controversial. 

There is no one “right solution” to the topics discussed above — individual organizations will have to find what works for them. What all companies can do, and probably need to do, (whether in the US or elsewhere) to stay competitive in the future, is to formulate a public stance based on their core values, and then work to uphold those values in the organization. Many workers include a company’s public stance as a criterion when making their employment decisions, and consumers are doing the same before spending their resources. 

By: Felicia Shermis






The traditional models for international business expansion, talent recruitment, and retention, as well as forms of employment, are all undergoing a change, and the implications for employers and employees alike are many. Some of this change is captured in expressions such as “digital nomad”, “gig economy”, and “work-from-anywhere”. While most understand these, there is no universal definition of what each term actually means. Still, what they can all be related back to in one way or another is the fact that the relationship between a particular job and the location where it is performed is getting increasingly decoupled; while at the same time work itself is becoming more project/task-based rather than job-based.

An indication of some of the forces behind the shift in how and where we work can be gleaned from the company-wide email Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sent at the end of April this year, explaining the company’s permanent “live and work from anywhere” policy. He wrote, among other things:

“We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you). If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage. The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company.”

One driver for a more global vision of where talent is located and how it is attached to an organization comes from the workforce itself, for which a desire for more flexibility, greater work/life balance, and autonomy are increasingly important factors. To a great extent, the work-from-home shift that happened during the Covid pandemic served to reinforce the validity and the viability of this way of working. Not only did people efficiently and effectively work from home, but they also provided models for collaborating across borders and time zones.

For companies, technological progress along with the greater desire among workers for flexibility, and the demonstrated doability of working from home is a bit of a game-changer. It means that they now have the possibility of building an international presence more or less anywhere without going through the difficulties of opening a local branch — traditionally one of the big obstacles in building an international footprint. 

In his email, Brian Chesky goes on to outline how Airbnb’s work-from-anywhere program is structured while also touching on some of the hurdles that exist, one of which is securing work visas in foreign countries. In the case of Airbnb, that responsibility falls on the employee. Chesky points out that the company is actively collaborating with other countries to make it easier to gain remote work visas; another sign that this is becoming an important tool to attract and retain talent, and that this way of working/living is here to stay. Currently, there are about 20 countries that offer remote work visas.

Obtaining a visa is one of the practical problems with the “work-from-anywhere” movement but there are other, more structural ones, as well. For example, many are wondering what a shift like this will mean for organizations when it comes to company culture, engagement, loyalty, and communication. Another concern is that a global gig economy would deplete the knowledge base of the workforce. Moving from fixed-job functions to project-based tasks means continuity and development over time may suffer which could have an impact on skills development and the transferring of skills.

For workers, the physical freedom that comes with “work-from-anywhere” can be weighed against a general lack of security and financial instability. That’s because, typically, this kind of employment comes without benefits such as pensions, paid time off, healthcare, unemployment insurance, etc. 

There are societal concerns as well, and they include worker representation and gender equality. Driving collective agendas when the workforce consists of independent contractors who are spread out geographically is a difficult undertaking. And on the topic of gender equality, the fear is that more home-based work will manifest what research shows to be a great imbalance between men and women as it relates to domestic work, with women doing three times more than their male counterparts. 

The shift in work means that HR departments everywhere will need to figure out how to recruit, train, and retain talent in this new landscape, while also managing a more “on-demand” workforce. Standard relocation packages are becoming increasingly irrelevant as traditional expat relocation is making room for a global gig economy, along with other forms of mobile work situations, such as cross-border commuting, business travel, short-term relocation, etc. For HR, policies for compensation, processes, compliance, and benefits will have to be reviewed and updated to fit the modern globally mobile worker.

By: Felicia Shermis








Recent research shows that employee well-being and mental health are losing ground in companies’ business agendas. A survey from the CIPD and Simplyhealth notes that there has been a decrease in many areas concerning the importance of focusing on mental health; for example, the number of managers who have bought into the importance of wellbeing dropped from 67% to 60% between 2021 and 2022, and the proportion of HR professionals who think senior leaders encourage and focus on mental health has declined from 48% to 42% in that same time period.

At first glance, the numbers may not seem that stark but if you consider that we are still grappling with the Covid pandemic and all that has come in its wake — return to work concerns, safety measures, vaccination status conflicts, etc., and add to that the general state of the world with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the instability and fear that has brought, then the case for making mental health a top priority should be strong. After all, employee well-being — mental and physical health — is crucial to ensuring employee engagement and performance.

Even though the Covid pandemic is not front and center in the same manner it was a year ago, it is still dictating life in many ways; the remnants of its influence are everywhere: to mask or not to mask, to jab or not to jab, to work in-person or not to work in-person, etc. And this point in time has proven confusing for many; where before we had strict rules to adhere to, we now have a mish-mash of recommendations to consider. For some, the loosened restrictions and return to “normal” is liberating while for others it is the opposite and instead invokes feelings of uncertainty and a lack of safety. This limbo creates all kinds of issues in the workplace and beyond.

A small example of what it can look like in the workplace was shared by a friend of mine who works at a large tech company where they are now back in the office. One of his colleagues will not take their mask off all day, not even to eat. When the workgroup scheduled a lunch together — outdoors — to do some team bonding, the colleague declined to join because they did not feel safe with masks off, even if outside.

It’s not hard to see what some of the disrupting consequences of a situation like this can be, where you have a co-worker who spends their days in the office feeling unsafe (and possibly hungry) and a disjointed team. Ultimately, dynamics like these impact everything from interpersonal relationships and collaboration to quality and productivity.

HR departments have taken notice of the issues that are surfacing in the wake of the pandemic. According to the CIPD survey, 66% of HR professionals said they are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on employees’ mental health.

The pandemic hit the globally mobile employees hard — some got stuck in places they could not get out of; others were forced to put career plans on hold. Yet another group had to continue to travel with the many restrictions and uncertainties that came with that. 

An employee I know has traveled internationally for work throughout the pandemic and the toll on their mental and physical health has been real. Months of navigating ever-changing entry regulations, testing requirements, living in ”bubbles”, and quarantining (while also running the risk of getting stuck in a “quarantine hotel” for weeks on end) left them exhausted to the point of needing medical care. They’ve received minimal wellness support from their employer during this time, even when asking for simple measures to be put into place. They are considering leaving their position because of the lack of support. Research from Cigna shows that 56% of globally mobile employees look for mental health support, and only 30% receive it.  

So what can companies do to mitigate stigma, increase support, and promote mental health? A 2019 survey conducted by Harvard Business Review in partnership with SAP and Qualtrics found that the most sought-after mental health workplace resources were a more open and accepting culture, clearer information about where to go/how to get support, and mental health training. The same survey showed that some 46% of all workers said that their company had not proactively shared what mental health resources were available.

Since stigma is still playing a part in preventing many from accessing mental health benefits, it is important to build a workplace culture that champions tolerance and openness. A good place to start is to make sure mental health is included in basic health care coverage and not only available on an opt-in basis. Easy access is crucial.

While the overall workplace standard for how mental health is approached is set at the company level, managers have an important role to play in building a culture that is open and accessible. Being honest about their own mental health is a way to build trust in a team. Checking in with individual employees on a regular basis is another critical component, as is taking a customized approach to meeting people’s needs. Building peer support teams is also a way to promote openness and offer support.

Neglecting employee mental health is not an option for an organization that wants to be successful; the consequences of doing so are too severe and will ultimately be felt on every level with not just individuals struggling but also weakened team cohesion, diminished creativity, lowered employee engagement and performance, as well as loss of talent altogether.

By: Felicia Shermis 






By now we are all aware that including sustainability, equity, and diversity (often referred to with the abbreviations DEI or ESG depending on focus area) into your business model is a requirement for any company that wants to thrive — customers, investors, and employees are demanding it. It’s a hot topic and yet, the path forward — what to implement and how — is unclear for many. 

So what can it look like for a company that is actively implementing DEI into its culture, business model, and communications? What are important concepts and how do you get buy-in from team members and leadership alike? What are some of the pitfalls and how do you celebrate successes? Answers are going to vary, but there are some universal points to take into consideration.

Where to Start

A good place to start is to do an inventory of what you as a company are already doing, and what team members think about, and are involved with, in their daily lives. You are likely to find that much is already happening, albeit not necessarily in a coordinated or pronounced way. It is also crucial to take a look at what you as an organization stand for and where your natural touchpoints are.

When Globiana started the work of implementing DEI into our business goals, one of the first steps was to survey our team members to find out what individuals’ thoughts were on how we can be more inclusive, promote diversity, and manifest our commitment to sustainability. We also surveyed the composition of our team to get a clear idea of where we stand in terms of diversity. The answers in combination with how they naturally fit into the business we are in — global mobility — laid the ground for how to move forward.

Some of the results from our ongoing conversations are discoveries about how our core business already serves the purpose of creating understanding and collaboration on a global scale; how we use our voice and platform to create change; how the team dedicates time to ensure we reflect on best practices; and how each team member is accountable to their personal goals. 

Long-Term Perspective

Implementing strategies for DEI is not a “one and done” kind of event. To gain long-term benefits, the topic will need to actively stay on the agenda as a way to hold the team/company accountable, and as a way to note progress and celebrate successes. A common pitfall with these kinds of efforts is that they become a “paper product” without real implementation; meaning, it’s easy to set up lofty goals but unless they are actively pursued, they don’t mean much. That’s why it’s important to really think about what makes sense for your organization, what you are asking of individuals, and how the efforts are supported. Seeking feedback and buy-in from employees, and keeping an open dialog with interested parties, is crucial for success.

As a measure of how important the topic has become in the wider world of business, there are efforts underway to implement universal ESG accounting standards so that companies can easily report their performance to investors. The idea here is not to report on things such as carbon emissions, equity, and inclusion, but, writes Harvard Business Review, “provide credible information on the reporting done by a company on its progress in achieving whatever targets it decides to set (if any).”

The world of global mobility has a unique place when it comes to inclusivity and diversity, as these are a natural part of what we do. As Lisa Sezto-Ip head of global mobility at Varian said in a recent interview with Globiana: ”I feel that global mobility, in general, is a great enabler of diversity and inclusion. We take people to new cultures and environments and bring together multicultural teams. Nothing compares to sitting next to a colleague in a new country with your senses soaking up all the new and different ways of doing things, of sharing different cultures.”  

Language — The Tool to Promote Shared Understanding

Language use in internal and external communication is an important part of DEI implementation because it is how we build and promote shared understanding. To start, there are the abbreviations themselves — DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance). These don’t mean a whole lot unless they are first defined and understood and then used accordingly to reflect the work that’s actually being done.

Words and images matter and inclusive usage are essential to help people who have been historically marginalized (whether based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.) to feel included. In the words of Corey L. Jamison and Frederick A. Miller (The Linkage Leader: 7 Actions for Creating an Inclusive Organization): “If we don’t intentionally include, we unintentionally exclude. The power of diversity thrives in a culture of inclusion.”

Yet another aspect of language use is brought forward by Camilla Degerth, coach and DEI lead at Globiana; she points out that for the global mobility world, where words such as “diversity” and “cross-cultural” may blend together, it can also be a good idea to keep the following distinctions in mind: DEI is ultimately about being allowed to be who you are, i.e. you don’t need to change. Cross-cultural work is about adapting your ways/code switch for a better understanding of, and to fit into, a new culture or environment. In other words, belonging is more important in DEI, while awareness of own culture is more important to understand other cultures.

Summing Up the Basics

Some basics to keep in mind when implementing DEI:

  • Take a collaborative approach rooted in team members’ interests
  • Ensure buy-in from team members on all levels of the organization
  • Have a long-term perspective
  • Report on progress
  • Celebrate goals reached
  • Define language and agree on word use

By: Felicia Shermis



At the time of writing this, about 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine because of the Russian invasion of the country. All in all, some 10 million Ukrainians are reported to be displaced. It’s staggering to think that in a little over a month, about a quarter of the country’s population has had to leave behind their lives and livelihoods, their family and friends. Many more are expected to follow in the weeks and months ahead. Most of them don’t know where they will end up, for how long they will be gone, or if they will ever return. About half are children (some unaccompanied); very few are men between the ages of 18-60, as they are the ones expected to stay and fight.

Ukrainians of all ages and sexes are witnessing the physical destruction of their homes and cities; of their people. It’s hard to wrap your head around how anyone can move on from circumstances like these, let alone rebuild a life. The effects of war may be felt immediately but the consequences are long-lasting. Sometimes they are felt for generations.   

That’s because, besides the physical and psychological damages, there is an impact on social structures, relationships, careers, and education. Starting over in a new country where you don’t know the language or the customs; where perhaps your degree is not valid, or your children’s schooling is upended, is not easily done even in the best of circumstances.

So far, most of the refugees have ended up in neighboring countries to Ukraine, with over 2 million in Poland. And while being out of Ukraine means relative safety, it doesn’t mean the end of hardship. For many, this is just the first stop, it remains to be seen where they will end up, and what the conditions will be like.

Typically, refugees face a long period of uncertainty, even after they have arrived in a safe spot, not knowing if they will be allowed to stay, or what their status will be. In the case of Ukraine, the EU has made an emergency decision that allows Ukrainian refugees to work, send children to school, and get housing and social welfare. In addition, the European Union recently assigned 500 million euros (roughly $549 million) for humanitarian aid to Ukraine. In the US, lawmakers have agreed on an emergency aid package that would steer $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The US also approved an additional $800 million in security assistance and has announced that it will accept up to 100,000 refugees.

The sheer number of refugees in such a short amount of time has brought many logistical and practical challenges. Help organizations and volunteers are doing what they can to assist the receiving countries to fulfill the basic needs of refugees. But as the refugees continue on to more permanent situations in other countries, they will need more help and help of a different kind. Once such things as shelter and food are resolved, that’s when the process of rebuilding starts. Part of the ability to rebuild will depend on being adequately prepared to take care of themselves and their families in their new environment.

At Globiana, we can help with some of that. One of our areas of expertise is providing transition support to the globally mobile so that they are better prepared to face life in their new locations. Our country-specific courses provide a knowledge base that can help navigate a new society.

That’s why we are opening up our course catalog to Ukrainian refugees. In an effort to serve them, we are building a dedicated site (our World4Ukraine platform will open its doors on April 7) where the first iteration will provide our courses in English. The work of translating the courses to Ukrainian has already begun and the translated versions will be added to the site as they become available. Over time, we are aiming to become a hub with rich content and additional useful tools for this population.

Furthermore, we are hoping to build partnerships with our colleagues in the larger global mobility community to serve even deeper needs. The global mobility community has a unique position to be able to help — we know the challenges of crossing borders, we have processes, procedures, and channels in place to mitigate some of the biggest hurdles. Together we can make a difference. 

Globiana’s tagline is “Humanizing Global Mobility” — what is happening in Ukraine is anything but humane. We are doing our bit to change that.  

By: Felicia Shermis






This interview with Lisa Sezto-Ip, head of Global Mobility at Varian, has been edited and condensed by Felicia Shermis.

Please talk a little bit about your background — where are you from and what led you to this point in your professional life?

I started out in public accounting and didn’t really know anything about global mobility. But, I had a desire to go abroad and experience another culture, and I had studied Mandarin in college and I wanted to use and improve my language skills. When an opportunity came along in Hong Kong, where a friend of a friend offered me a place to stay, I moved myself there and got into expat taxation. I took the opportunity to have an adventure — that turned out to be my entry into Global Mobility. 

I moved back to the US after four years and I ended up doing mobility tax at Apple. There I focused on supporting employees who were on international assignments and relocating abroad.

By now, I have been at Varian for five years. We were recently acquired by Siemens Healthineers and are currently working on integrating our Global Mobility strategies. The two companies have been operating under different models so we have some work to do. There are a lot of moving pieces right now as we are planning for the future while supporting employees’ current needs. 

How do your unique background and personal story impact your decision-making while building/supporting global mobility programs?

Mobility is very compliance heavy so it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of things. Having moved abroad myself, I have a lot of sympathy for employees and their families. I know there is a big adjustment ahead when you move abroad. I have an understanding that everyone’s needs are unique. We have to focus on compliance of course but we also have to have a high-touch employee focus. 

One of the things we are looking to do is to change our standard relocation package to be more flexible. We want people to be able to make choices within a set framework rather than us having to make exceptions to accommodate individual circumstances, which has been the way it has traditionally worked. This new approach will be more scalable, as everyone comes with different needs — be it someone moving from a big house to a small apartment and needing help figuring out logistics with that, someone who is facing massive delays with their visa, or someone who has to find an English-speaking midwife in a foreign country.

What does your department look like, how do you work? What type of mobility do you mostly support (business travel, relocation, virtual cross-border collaboration)?

We are currently a team of two at Varian, with additional support from Siemens. As part of our combination, we are considering different models to best support the business. It’s an exciting time to start with a blank canvas on this journey of harmonization.

We support all types of employee mobility from international business travelers to long-term moves to remote work, and everything in-between. As a center of expertise, we have the opportunity to work with many of our colleagues around the world, from manufacturing to field service to finance to C-suite executives. We provide consultation on costs, compliance requirements, and unique personal considerations.

It is difficult to talk about global mobility right now without touching on how it has been impacted by the pandemic. In your view, what are the lessons learned, and what changes will be needed from global mobility programs going forward?

Covid has had a huge impact on global mobility. Prior to the pandemic, global mobility was largely forgotten. Now it’s been brought to the forefront because travel regulations, remote work, tax implications, etc. have expanded the scope of what mobility is and it has also expanded the population we serve. 

The floodgates really opened when Global Mobility departments had to widen their umbrella to handle requests from employees who wanted to work remotely from “new” places. 

Companies are starting to look at compliance regarding remote work and are putting limits on where employees can work. Early on, we created a steering committee to ensure we had a framework of guidelines to consider when requests for remote work “elsewhere” came through. Ultimately, these decisions are still most often made on an individual basis.

Travel restrictions have of course been a huge issue during the pandemic. They have not only caused employees to get stuck in countries but have also meant a lot of work to try to figure out how to get employees to where they need to be. The shipment of household goods has also been severely impacted — it’s become two to three times more expensive to ship, and it takes two to three times longer than in pre-pandemic times. 

These are all issues we think about when building support for the future. That’s why we are moving toward a more flexible system with cash allowances, for example.

Likewise, it’s hard to talk about global mobility right now without including issues such as sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. Can you share how you approach these topics within your department? What responsibilities do you feel global mobility teams have in this realm — when it comes to globally mobile employees and the support they receive, as well as vendors you choose to work with?

I feel that global mobility, in general, is a great enabler of diversity and inclusion. We take people to new cultures and environments and bring together multicultural teams. Nothing compares to sitting next to a colleague in a new country with your senses soaking up all the new and different ways of doing things, of sharing different cultures. What’s great about this is that it is a cycle — a gift that keeps on giving — when people come back from abroad and share their new perspectives, that impacts the home team as well. We are bridging cultures without even trying.

We are also thinking about sustainability issues when helping our employees move. We partner with a relocation company and through them, we do an intake survey to find out what is important for the employee in terms of housing, and what their thoughts are on shipping goods, for example. We encourage recycling and facilitate the collection of items for donation. 

Temporary housing is still pretty standard and doesn’t necessarily cater to specific needs such as an energy-efficient building. But once the employee is in place and looking for permanent housing, they can get help with fulfilling specific wishes, such as easy access to public transportation, energy-efficient housing, etc.

What does “humanizing global mobility” mean to you?

There are many ways of doing global mobility. Especially in larger programs, it can be very operational and transactional where there is a lot of focus on compliance. Humanizing it means focusing on the employee and their family — helping them to “see around corners”. The magic sauce is to come up with a program that is employee-focused, flexible, and scalable. We have to leverage technology to make things easier, we have to have comprehensive support from beginning to end, and we have to see the individual.

For many, the beginning of the year is about setting goals and making plans for how to reach them. But this year feels different — the uncertainty and disruptions we are still experiencing in the wake of the pandemic, make it difficult to know where to even begin. Old formulas and strategies that we are used to leaning on are not effective anymore, and it’s unclear what to apply in their place. The world of global mobility has been particularly beset with uncertainty as one of the most basic ideas behind it — the crossing of borders — has been impossible to predict and plan for these past couple of years. 

But, as uncertain as things are right now, there are many well-informed ideas about what the year (and beyond) might have in store and what to think about when it comes to charting a path for success and keeping a competitive edge. The most important idea, the one that works its way into almost all other aspects of how to create success in 2022 is this: taking care of “your people”, your employees. Without a healthy, invested employee base, success — however you define it — will be hard to come by.

KPMG’s Global Assignment Policies and Practices survey (published at the end of 2021) mentions in the very introduction of the report the role employees play in the success of a company as they write: “CEOs identified their employee value proposition as the top operational priority to achieve their growth objectives”. Employers will need to figure out how to meet employee needs, not only to ensure they are performing at the top of their abilities but to retain and attract talent as well. 

What Employees are Looking For

The complication here is that employees are not looking for the same things now as they were even a year ago. Life and work have been altered, and as people have had to adjust, their expectations and needs have changed. What that means in practical terms for employers will be different from company to company but there are some general trends to use as a guide.

Employees are looking for:

  • A clear plan for ESG goals (environmental, social, governance). It’s not enough for employers to craft a message of diversity goals or environmental engagement without action and follow-through. This extends to demanding accountability from vendors and includes reporting progress and results. 
  • A recognition that mental health is taken seriously and that there is adequate coverage, and that progressive policies are in place to promote better mental health.
  • A work environment that values work-life balance and real measures that allow for it.
  • Flexibility in when and where to work — at the office, at home, a combination of both.

What About Global Mobility?

Unsurprisingly, the basic question of what global mobility will look like going forward is still front and center for many global companies. The KPMG survey points out that one of the reasons for believing in the return of global mobility is that it’s an important recruitment tool — many employees still see the opportunity to work abroad as a career enhancer. It is also a way for companies to improve on diversity and social consciousness. 

The report says: “Evolving business models and the war for talent are expected to continue to drive the development of new and diverse talent mobility needs for organizations. Pandemic-related complications have led to more innovation and more reliance on flexible work options both domestically and abroad. As more borders open and viral infection rates decline globally, we fully expect business travel to resume albeit with less frequency and shorter trips.”

Building support for the altered circumstances in which global mobility operates will become a top priority in 2022. Some of the issues that employers are grappling with are:

Compliance Compliance has always been a concern when managing global talent and the pandemic has only complicated the matter. 

Greater need for real-time risk assessment/management — Risk assessment and management have become more complex and more urgent, as they cover a wider scope compared to pre-pandemic times, and as they are more time-sensitive than ever before. 

Distributed workforce The distributed workforce is here to stay and with that comes advantages as well as challenges. For employers, this means considering the effects on company culture, engagement, and communication, and implementing strategies for countering some of the possible negative outcomes such as feelings of isolation or broken communication. Some of the benefits of a distributed workforce include being able to hire from a greater talent pool, being a nimble company that can work across time zones, and greater opportunities for diversity.

Meeting the Demands of the Future

Many agree that the answers to meet the demands of the future will be found by combining hi-tech solutions with outsourcing for services while providing flexible support to fulfill new mobility needs. Employers are looking to:

  • Build flexible policies for relocation support.
  • Build cohesive vendor partnerships to support global talent in areas such as intercultural knowledge, as well as in tax, immigration, and employment laws, and for fulfilling duty of care.
  • Explore new technology and apply virtual solutions for collaboration, education, and communication. Vistage.com writes: “Nearly every industry needs to consider the impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digitization. Those who choose not to participate will be left behind.”

The new year may not have started off as we hoped and uncertainty may still be the prevailing feeling, but as Amir Husain writes on Forbes.com: “If there is one thing we should be certain of about the future, it is that it will indeed bring forth many surprises. Even trends we are aware of now and think we understand will, in time, drive outcomes at a scale hard for us to imagine.”

By: Felicia Shermis





Leadership is much-discussed in the world of business — how to recruit, train, and retain talent are perennial topics on the agenda, and most often, good leadership is defined by traits such as great communication skills, the ability to delegate, empowerment, and integrity. And while these are undoubtedly important attributes in order to lead successfully, being a leader in today’s world requires additional traits, such as those encompassed in the three C’s — Curiosity, Courage, and Collaboration.

They are needed because we have entered an era that is defined by the recognition that we all share a responsibility to shape the world we live in with regards to sustainability, diversity, and inclusion (and beyond) — and the responsibility doesn’t start and end at home, it carries over into all aspects of life, private and public, home and work, in big ways and small.

The reasons for this shift are many — awareness of issues facing our global society, demands by younger generations of workers to make sustainability, diversity, and inclusion a natural part of business, and of course, a realization that there are business opportunities to be had.

As Olio’s co-founder Tessa Clarke says on simplybusiness.co.uk with regards to the concept of profit with purpose: “There’s a whole new generation of consumers — Gen Z and millennials — who are recognizing that profit and purpose are inextricably linked.” She adds: “Any business that does not truly embed profit with purpose into its DNA will lose its license to exist, I’d like to say within the next five years, but certainly within the next 10-20 years.”

And things are changing — a number of companies have been launched in the last few years with the purpose of doing their bit when it comes to addressing sustainability and promoting inclusion and diversity as a business idea. In addition, more and more established companies are also seeing the benefits of incorporating these practices into regular operations — when it comes to long-term costs and marketability, for example, as well as in attracting and retaining employees.

The shift in mindset can best be described as “currently evolving”, as this is still an area of learning for many business leaders. There may not be a “manual” yet to follow but the increased awareness has led to a greater willingness to look at business practices from the perspective of sustainability and to change goals to also include actions and benchmarks in these areas.

Globiana coach Camilla Degerth has seen this first hand with an increased desire among clients to explore ways in which these issues can be not just discussed in the workplace but also championed and implemented. Many are uncertain about where to start and how to make sure they are heard.

Oftentimes, the concerns raised in coaching reflect the insecurity an employee feels about bringing up an issue that lies outside their realm of responsibility, or that a leader experiences thinking they need to have all the answers. Some of the common questions that come up in coaching include:

  • How can I bring up topics such as sustainability or inclusion in our business practices without losing credibility?
  • Will this be seen as an investment or a cost?
  • How will people look at me if I say we need to change our ways?
  • How can I ensure employees feel safe enough to share their thoughts and ideas?

Answering these questions is where the three C’s come into the picture because it’s the business leaders who are guided by the principles of the three C’s that are most likely to make progress and implement changes successfully. The three C’s break down as follows:

Curiosity — learn more about the issues and about ideas for how to tackle them. To have the awareness that you don’t have all the expertise.

Courage — be vulnerable and admit that you don’t have all the answers and solutions, and then the willingness to empower others to step up to the plate.

Collaboration — take the step to work together across hierarchies, ages, and roles. This is a big task but building allyships will help move projects forward.

It’s not easy to institute change — of any kind — whether it has to do with redefining how you do business, showing vulnerability as a leader, starting a new business partnership, or acknowledging that you don’t have the expertise needed to tackle a certain issue. The beauty is that in empowering — that is, letting people around you know that their voice is important and that they have something to contribute — you feed creativity and collaboration. And those are traits that are good for any business objective, period.

Much of what is discussed here is not news — from the dynamics of younger generations driving change — in the business world and beyond — to older generations being mentors and guides. What is different is perhaps the urgency felt by so many and the fact that leaders today are more visible to employees, and to the public, than ever before. The words and actions of a leader have the potential to reach far, making their sphere of influence large, which means they can impact change to a greater extent. So, the questions are what is the responsibility of business leaders, and how can they build organizations in which employees feel empowered to bring new ideas forward?

By: Felicia Shermis




Often when talking or reading about how global mobility fits into the structure of a business, it’s done from a numbers perspective. There is no doubt that the economy of global mobility is important. However, there is another, less examined key aspect to consider — the people involved — those supporting global mobility efforts, and those being supported by global mobility programs.

These are the human resource teams and service providers who have to balance cost vs value on a daily basis, and who have to keep up to date on conditions, policies, and regulations, domestically and across the world. They are the ones who know that every implemented policy and crunched number will ultimately affect not just the directly impacted employee or business unit, but also the greater “ecosystem” surrounding them.

They are the employees who work, travel, and move across borders, and who are asked to produce at a high level regardless of where in the world they are, or how attuned to a new culture they are. These are the employees who are asked to work remotely in a multicultural group, across time zones and language barriers without missing a beat. They are the ones traversing continents to represent, give presentations, and negotiate deals in culturally appropriate and effective ways.

In short, they are the very diverse group of individuals behind the catchall term “Global Mobility”.

Spending time on the finer points of global mobility at this juncture may seem counterintuitive to some considering the recent struggles the industry has experienced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. And, yes, it’s true that cross-border movement has been hampered. But, cross-border collaboration has not.

Thought exchange and teamwork across borders are as commonplace now, if not more so, as before the pandemic — technology has made sure of that. The need for intercultural knowledge and understanding of how to collaborate across borders and across cultures has not diminished, if anything, it has increased. As a global mobility service provider, Globiana has seen this first hand.

“Keeping a global view of the process of global mobility is as important now as it ever has been,” says Globiana CEO and Founder Elena Mosko. She points out that it’s easy to forget that cross-border collaboration, whether in person or virtual, is a high-stakes venture. It is well known that the negative effects of failed cross-cultural communication and adaptation are many and can be severe — for individuals, their families, and businesses alike. What is less well known are the greater cultural impacts and how those shape how we as people — and by extension businesses — view each other. How we lay the groundwork for trust and understanding. How we build for the future.

So, what is the responsibility of individual companies and global mobility service providers when it comes to the bigger picture of promoting understanding and bringing in the human aspect in what is traditionally a transactional part of business? Do individual companies have a responsibility at all?

As a company with the tagline “Humanizing Global Mobility”, it may be clear where Globiana stands on that question. But what does that tagline actually mean and how does it translate to what we do and how we approach clients? “Globiana was originally developed as a complement to the benefits side of the global mobility business, but as time has gone on, there has been a recognition within the leadership and the broader team alike, that we have a role to play in filling a bigger gap,” says Elena.

The core of what we do is to bring down cultural barriers — within our team, which is multicultural and based all over the world, and through the products and services we offer. But a recent internal survey shows that to truly live up to our tagline we have to do more than break down barriers, we also have to promote an inclusive worldview, we have to help build bridges.  

As one team member put it: “This includes remembering that people are much more than their job titles or where they come from. It touches on how we form relationships with people who are not in our physical vicinity and how those relationships affect our lives.”

And yet another said this: “The attitude that there is always something wonderful to learn from each place and person, and that there is much to contribute without the fear of judgment.”

Likewise, living up to the tagline means being deliberate in how we choose to grow our team and how we support other vendors and clients who share our vision, awareness, and agreed-upon engagement.

Why does all of this matter? It matters because, for one, the way we see it, it’s just good business sense to invest in cultural understanding and outreach — that’s how you build lasting networks, make deals, and forge relationships. It matters because it is a validation of the importance of the diversity on our own team, as well as of the diversity of the clients we serve. And it matters because ultimately, it’s about worldview.

By: Felicia Shermis