Going back to the beginning of 2020 — which seems like an insanely long, long time ago in a land far, far away — I posted a few top trends for global mobility heading into the year. And while one might think that everything has been changed by COVID-19, I actually think these trends are still relevant and applicable, even in this "new normal" talent mobility landscape.
The very first one was "shorter assignments and international commuting," and we explained that:
"They (Pacific Prime) say employees are choosing shorter assignments. They also expect more situations where, for example, a Singapore-based employee works four days in Hong Kong, and then commutes home for three days to spend with family. We (Plus Relocation) are seeing that long-term assignments have not disappeared, but short-term and commuter assignments are better at balancing cost, needs and experience. From where we sit, companies are still more than willing to send talent on longer stints when needed, but shorter durations are an en vogue win-win scenario, particularly for dual-career couples."
OK, now enter the new AIRINC 2020 Commuter Assignments Benchmark Survey, where they share that:
- 57% of companies pay a per diem to cover meals and incidentals for commuters.
- 53% of companies consider the employee under home headcount, but 38% report the commuter falls under host headcount.
- 70% of companies do not pay any premiums to commuters.
- Only 9% of companies do not provide any tax return preparation assistance for international commuter assignments (that means 91% do offer tax return prep if needed).
- 69% of companies do not allow the employee’s family to travel to the host location in lieu of home visits.
While commuter assignments generally fall under global mobility’s responsibility and have been around for some time, approximately 55% of companies are either currently using them or planning to add them to their program. (see AIRINC’s 2020 Mobility Outlook Survey). If usage of commuter assignments continues — or increases — companies will need to seek to have a more formal framework in place to manage these types of assignments.
Is your company anticipating a change in volume for these types of arrangements?
The most common ways companies determine the frequency of travel to and from the assignment location are by management discretion/business needs (64% of companies) or handled on a case-by-case basis (36%), showing that commuter policies may need flexibility to best meet the needs of the business.