Global mobility
Global Immigration

How to Create a Successful Global Mobility Plan: An Employer’s Guide

Table of contents

Despite some businesses returning to regular office hoursin 2023, some have opted for another trending approach, global mobility (also referred to as global immigration).

Global mobility is driven by economic, social, political, and technological factors and requires cooperation with several teams, legal guidance, deep knowledge of employee immigration, and other compliance guidelines.

Throughout this guide, we’ll explain the concept of global mobility and the various types, the benefits and challenges, and how to take all of that information to create a sound global mobility management strategy. Let’s start from the top.

What is Global Mobility?

Global mobility is the process of relocating an employee to another country for work purposes.

Global mobility, or employee relocation, is an HR process that allows companies to move employees between different countries or locations. These moves, called assignments, can be categorized in differently.

One of the main goals with this strategy is to increase the business’s capital and widen its talent pool (but more on the benefits later on).

Types of Global Mobility

It’s important to understand each type of global immigration plan so you can choose the right assignments and know exactly how to structure the employee’s new arrangement.

Below are the options for working employees:

  • Short-term assignments- Often three-12 months long, used to train local staff in a specific skill, fill a role vacancy temporarily, lead a specific project, and more
  • Long-term assignments- Could be one to three years to expand into new markets, open new facilities, or other needs
  • Commuting- Sometimes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis where employees can fly to another location for a few days and then return to their home base
  • Remote work- Employee works from their home base and reports to a international branch of your company
  • Business travel– Workers may travel a certain amount of weeks out of the year to meet with global managers, bring certain expertise to different offices, and so on
  • Rotational assignments- An employee has a group of assignments that sends them to several locations within a single country or across country borders
  • Project-based assignments- your employee goes to another company branch in another country to contribute to or lead a project

Whichever option appeals to you and your business, global mobility has several rewards that can help you take your business’s growth plan to the next level.

The Benefits of Global Mobility in Business

A recent report by Deloitte states that 48% of organizations plan to expand international remote work and 40% will expand virtual assignments.

With virtual work so commonplace, talented employees may be open to or even prefer a workplace with global mobility. In fact, that same Deloitee study found that by 2025, millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce and 59% are willing to work abroad.

As the majority of the workforce favors this trend, your workplace can not only hire top talent by embracing global mobility, but also encourage existing rising star’s professional growth by placing them in different roles in new locations. Within the pool of employers Deloitte polled, 51% have seen increased engagement, flexibility, and well-being.

Additional benefits include:

  • Access to a wider talent pool
  • Career development opportunities
  • Increased cultural awareness
  • Improved retention rates

Let’s elaborate on a few of these. When embracing global immigration or global relocation, you can look at candidates outside your country’s boarders. In 2023, if you are located in the US and your ideal candidate lives 2,000 miles away from your headquarters in Canada for example, they can still easily get the job done with the right technology, support, and training.

Hiring someone from a different culture also promotes diversity and inclusion, which, as reported by Deloitee, is a major selling-point for millennials looking for new roles. Diversity can result in new ideas, fresh perspectives, and unique solutions that can propel your business forward.

Finally, during the pandemic, many employees got used to the new employment status quo of increased mobility. When employees feel trusted to do their role from anywhere, they’re more empowered, motivated, and engaged.

To reap the above benefits, you’ll need a solid path forward that allows you to set the stage for mobility, course correct if needed, and assess success. We’ll refer to this path as a global mobility strategy.

What is a Global Mobility Strategy?

A global mobility strategy is your business’s plan to smoothly transition employees to travel or live in foreign countries. Your strategy will likely offer a framework to assist employees. To create your strategy, you’ll need the following:

  1. Define your business objectives and goals
  2. Implement a talent management plan
  3. Look into Immigration compliance
  4. Adjust compensation and benefits
  5. Consider tax and legal restrictions or guidelines
  6. A plan for risk management
  7. Communication and cultural awareness
  8. Technology and infrastructure
  9. A system for metrics and reporting
  10. A global mobility program

That last item on the list, a global mobility program, may sound the same as a global mobility plan, but there’s a subtle difference.

What is a Global Mobility Program?

A global mobility program is the tactical implementation of a global mobility strategy that’s designed to meet specific business needs. It aims to fulfill the organization’s needs from managing global workforces to expanding the talent pool. With a global plan, employees can access new opportunities for professional development.

Typically, a global mobility program includes policies and processes for immigration, tax compliance, cultural integration, logistical support, and resources from legal, HR, and finance teams.

A global mobility strategy is a higher-level plan or framework that guides the how to carry out a global mobility program so that it aligns with broader organizational objectives.

As you might’ve guessed, implementing global immigration comes with it’s own trials you’ll need to prepare for. We’ve compiled a list of potential roadblocks below.

Exploring Global Mobility Challenges & Solutions

There are a few types of challenges you may need to address and prepare for when moving towards global mobility management. We’ve outlined a few challenges and solutions employers will face (see directly below), but we’ve also included a list of employee concerns and important compliance considerations to keep in mind.

  • The challenge: Immigration compliance
    Whenever your employee crosses country boarders, you’ll need to know the laws and regulations around employee immigration. Not following the country’s guidelines can result in fines and penalties for your business.
    The solution: Partnering with immigration experts:
    Immigration experts—who often work with global payroll solutions—will know the processes, stipulations, paperwork, and red-tape needed for a smooth transition.
  • The challenge: Talent retention
    When introducing international workers to your team, they’ll need to understand the specific customs and protocols of that office and location.
    The solution: Offering cultural training and support
    Cultural training and support can help the employee feel more settled and secure in their new role, giving them the information they need to hit the ground running.
  • The challenge: Cost control
    At first, it can feel out of budget to carry out a global mobility plan considering all of the travel, living, training expenses, and so on.
    The solution: Tailoring compensation and benefits packages
    Every country has different wage requirements, benefits, taxes. By knowing the host country’s VAT, living expense ranges, common benefits, and so on, you can save resources by providing a solution that will work for your company and the employee.
  • The challenge: Cultural differences
    International workers will have their own customs and ways of addressing issues within the workplace. They may even have different expectations in terms of management and teamwork.
    The solution: Creating an employee-centric experience
    An employee-centric experience draws attention to what the employees need, making sure they have the right tools, facilitating good report with their managers, helping to understand expectations, and so on.
  • The challenge: Family considerations
    The family will also need to adjust in terms of cultural differences, languages and more.
    The solution: Leveraging technology
    Use technology to keep family ties and help employees and their family learn a new language and find the right housing and schools.

To maintain a healthy, productive work environment, you may also want to note the following struggles employees may face.

Employees’ Global Mobility Challenges

The process of relocation isn’t always easy for employees. They could face any of the following frictions:

  • Cultural adjustments
  • Language barriers
  • Financial considerations
  • Family concerns
  • Legal and immigration issues

Lastly, one of the most important considerations you’ll need when expanding is understanding compliance regulations. This will prevent you from needing to pay expensive fines or facing penalties in a new country.

Important Compliance Considerations

To maintain compliant, you’ll need to know the following for every single country you hire a worker from:

  • Visa and work permit requirements
  • Tax compliance (explain the complexities of a global mobility payroll management)
  • Social Security and other benefits
  • Record keeping
  • Data privacy
  • Employment laws
  • Duty and care for employees (insurance, and emergency services)

With all of the above in mind, it’s time to ensure you have everything you need to create your policy. But it’s often tricky to know where to begin.

How to Build Your Global Mobility Policy

A clear global mobility policy ensures a smooth and successful relocation process. Here’s what you need to define:

  • The objectives – what is your purpose for the policy and what do you hope to achieve?
  • Types of assignments you’ll offer – create a plan for assignments and their benefits
  • Eligibility for global mobility assignments – who is entitled to these opportunities?
  • Compensation and benefits package for each assignment type – standardize the packages so you’re consistent and fair
  • The process for obtaining visas and work permits for employees – make sure everyone involved is clear on the process and steps
  • The process for complying with tax and legal requirements – have all of the necessary paperwork and statuses
  • Measures taken to mitigate risks – develop contingency plans, protocols for catching filing errors, and more
  • The communication strategy and cultural training – all management should be on the same page about how to train new employees and remain culturally sensitive
  • The technology and infrastructure – do you have the right tools and resources for a smooth mobility execution?
  • Metrics to measure plan effectiveness – how well is your plan is working and are there areas for improvement?

We’ve touched on a lot in this guide and it can easily feel overwhelming. Every country has its own regulations around the global workforce and you’ll also want to prep your company for the changes to come and how you’ll handle it. To maintain progress and make sure they’re abiding by the laws, some companies opt for external expertise to manage all of the moving parts.

Experts in global mobility management

Global mobility is trending. Not only does it expand employer’s talent pool and allow them to promote from within, but employees are also expressing interest in changing locations. Employee relocation could be a win-win if you plan for risks and understand how to stay compliant.

Oftentimes, it’s safest to have an expert handle the employee’s immigration, benefits, equity, and compliance needs. That’s where Papaya Global comes in. Papaya Global has a team of experts from all over the world who can guide you through any process and allow you to manage everything on one platform.

Ready to safe proof your global immigration plan? Get in touch and schedule a demo.


What is a shadow payroll and how does it affect global mobility?

A shadow payroll doesn’t physically pay the employee, but allows employers to meet local payroll tax payments and reporting obligations by mirroring the home payroll compensation reporting. The home country payroll calculates and delivers net pay to the worker, while the shadow payroll calculates and reports the taxes due in the host location. Shadow payroll manages assignees on long-and short-term assignments, business travelers, project workers, commuters, remote workers, and virtual assignments.

What are the benefits of global mobility?

Benefits of global mobility include added flexibility and motivation for employees. On the employer side, benefits can include a path for expansion, increased diversity and a more employee-centric work culture. One of the most enticing benefits for employers, however, is that they can develop their existing talent.

What are the challenges of global mobility?

Aside from needing to create and implement a plan to arrange immigration and visa requirements, tax and compliance, relocation expenses for the family, the employee’s wages, and added benefits. Employers may face other challenges as well, such as making sure the employee’s families are looked after and that they have access to essential resources. In the work environment, employers must address any cultural differences and expectations.

How can individuals prepare for global mobility?

Individuals can work with a compliance and payroll expert to help prepare for global mobility. They can also tie up loose ends in their home country by ending their lease or renting out their homes, informing their children’s schools of the move, and so on.

What are the considerations for employers regarding global mobility?

Employers need to consider a variety of criteria in terms of mobile mobility. First, they’ll need to consider the company goals and how a mobile approach would suit those goals. Employers also need to consider which types of mobility plans they want to offer and how to construct a protocol for each plan type.

How is technology changing global mobility?

Thanks to technology such as video conferencing and cloud-run global payroll platforms, global mobility has become more manageable than ever. Teams can easily sync cross boarder and employers can quickly manage all payroll-related actions by the click of a button.

What are the emerging trends in global mobility?

Employers will need to continue allowing remote work, while smoothly managing any tax and employee-related risk factors in the related host country. Organizations will also need to develop working policy guidelines and stay up to date on risks and authority intervention instances.