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6 min read

Global Mobility: Definition, Types, & How to Manage Compliance

What Is Global Mobility?

Article roundup

  • Global mobility has a range of benefits for companies, including employee retention, building skillsets and tapping into new international markets. 
  • Global mobility also presents challenges — managing the process can be expensive and it is difficult to guarantee compliance
  • In order to ensure compliance, we recommend thinking carefully about the benefits of outsourcing global mobility management and engaging a third party to manage the process. 

Any growing company can benefit from global mobility — deploying staff to overseas locations to hope grow the business. Here we look at the benefits of global mobility, the challenges, and how a business should manage their global mobility procedures from within the company. 

What Is the Definition of Global Mobility? 

What is global mobility? Global mobility is the ability of workers and employees to be deployed internationally. Due to the different rules and regulations associated with each country and its workforce, global mobility compliance is an important consideration for any company expanding internationally. Given that millenials will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, and 59% of them are interested in working abroad, global mobility could be a key part of your employee retention strategy. 

Therefore, it’s important to implement a global mobility strategy in your company to keep up with this competitive job market and the growing demand for talent.  This article will help you to acknowledge the challenges involved with global mobility and provide you with the tools to overcome those challenges. 

What Are the Benefits of Global Mobility?

A business that implements a global mobility program will have clear advantages over its competitors, including:

1. Increased Workplace Productivity 

When organizations promote global mobility in their company, employees feel that their growth aspirations are being recognized. This, in turn, helps to maintain your employee retention rate and maintain employee engagement and productivity. 

2. Enhanced Employee Skillsets

Many businesses across the globe are failing to operate to their full potential as a result of skill shortages. Relocating talent from overseas countries is one effective short-term solution for this issue. Not only does the business benefit from that, so to does the employee who can develop their career skills. 

3. It Allows You to Tap into New Markets

Global mobility allows your business to explore new markets abroad. Through global mobility, a business can place experienced staff in an overseas location to oversee operations, and quickly build a market-dominating presence there.  As well as the intrinsic benefits of a new consumer market, this kind of international expansion diversifies revenue globally and increases business stability and resilience.  

Global Mobility Journeys — What Is Global Mobility?

How Do I Ensure Global Mobility Compliance? 

For growing companies looking to ensure global mobility compliance and reduce any risk exposure, the challenge can often be finding a cost-effective way of meeting the legal requirements. There are several risk areas that organizations should focus on in order to stay global mobility compliant. 

1. Implement a Global Mobility Strategy

A global mobility strategy is a plan formed by your company to correctly and securely transition your employees who relocate to or live in foreign countries. By forming and defining your global mobility strategy you offer legal guidance and support for cross-border employee mobilization. A fully functioning global mobility strategy will be closely aligned with your core business plan, company values, and your overall vision as a company. 

2. Comply with Payroll Rules

Utilizing global mobility means ensuring full compliance with laws and regulations relating to your global payroll. To ensure full compliance, you may wish to seek professional advice from a Global Mobility Manager in relation to the payroll-related aspects of global mobility. This includes withholding employee taxes, payroll taxes and social security (such as National Insurance contributions) from both the home and destination countries. 

3. Hold Necessary Visas and Work Permits 

Every country you plan to do business in will have different immigration laws and legislation. Perhaps with the help of a global mobility consulting team, your human resources team needs to compile a list of the necessary work and residence permits for the countries you plan to relocate or hire new employees in: For example, there are multiple categories of work visa in Poland, whereas Dubai and Qatar only have one category of work permit for most employees. At this point, you can determine which aspects of the process you need to deal with yourself, which the employee can deal with, and which might be outsourced to an international HR partner, such as a global Employer of Record

4. Consider Tax Implications

To avoid any problems, you’ll need to understand the relocation tax and employment obligations of both the home and the host country. Figuring this out ahead of time is the best choice because some countries have more complex tax requirements than others which makes it difficult for employees to relocate and legally work there.

Shadow payroll is a popular solution to this problem, as it involves keeping employees on the same benefits and insurance within their home country while temporarily relocating them. This is a great option for employees that are spending a longer period of time working in a new country. 

What Are the Key Challenges of Global Mobility?

Working with an international team has its challenges, therefore a thorough global mobility strategy is essential for modern-day businesses working internationally. Dealing with the ins and outs of immigration, taxes, employee benefits, and other HR compliance topics becomes much more complicated and harder to manage when it is transferred to a global scale. We’ll cover both the challenges of global mobility and how you can overcome them. 

1. Visa and Relocation Complications 

Relocating an employee involves obtaining the necessary work visa and documentation. Many countries, such as China or Japan, have strict work visa requirements, therefore it’s important to ensure your employees have enough time to apply for and obtain their work visa before they are required to start working. Every country has its own set of immigration policies and of course, some are more complex than others, therefore it’s important for your company to be prepared for difficulties and delays. 

2. Employee Retention     

While we mentioned that global mobility can help with employee relocation — it is truly a double-edged sword. Relocating is a stressful experience even when it’s within the same country, therefore moving across the globe is a whole different ball game. It’s up to the HR team to ensure that this is a smooth process throughout.

If your policies don’t work or they don’t run smoothly, you may end up sending someone abroad only to have them leave the company once they’ve arrived. Part of your company’s global mobility strategy should also involve helping the employee settle into their new location. 

3. It Can Be Expensive 

Expanding your business is an expensive process, especially when it comes to relocating your employees. As an employer, it’s common and often expected to offer relocation packages to your employees to cover living cost differences, currency exchange rates, and to even often a pay rise as part of the offer.  A 2018 study by Wakefield found that the majority of professionals in the US (91%) and the UK (87%) would expect their employer to help with their relocation. Their main expectations include expenses, housing assistance, insurance coordination, and spouse and family support.

Who’s In Charge of Global Mobility in your Workplace? 

As we mentioned, it’s unproductive to rely on your existing HR team to deal with your end-to-end global mobility process and strategy. This is why it’s important to hire capable global mobility experts to ensure your process runs smoothly and securely. Options include: 

1. An In-House Global Mobility Manager  

A good option may be to hire an in-house Global Mobility Manager (GMM). Note, this will usually only be cost-effective when you are implementing global mobility at scale and need a fulltime employee resource on the issue.

2. An External Global Mobility Team

Depending on the size of your company and expansion plan, it might be more beneficial to contract external support for complex cases. As mentioned, international hiring and workforce management are complex. Each country has its own particular regulations concerning things like labor compliance and tax law. Realistically, one person alone can’t navigate the bureaucracy of multiple countries.

3. Your Internal Human Resource Team

For smaller companies, neither in-house global mobility management or external providers may be affordable. In which case, your internal human resource team may be your only realistic option. Given the complexity of international global mobilit regulations, if this is something your company decides to do, we highly recommend investing in thorough training for your existing employees.

Implement Global Mobility the Right Way

Global mobility presents major benefits for ambition companies — it means simplifying the process for moving staff around your international locations. However, it also comes with serious compliance challenges: You cannot risk tax, payroll or immigration non-compliance. 

To fully leverage the benefits of global mobility, we recommend implementing a robust global mobility strategy and making sure you have the right external support to implement it effectively. 


Global mobility refers to the ability of a multinational workforce to operate and move from one country to another.

Global mobility management (GMM) is a business procedure that manages the end-to-end process for relocation of an existing or new employee.

Article By

Fact checked by Travis Kliever

Charlotte speaks with authority as RemotePad’s recruitment and HR tech maestro. With a background in marketing, Charlotte has worked for major brands in the industry, including leading HR software provider, FactorialHR. Originally from Manchester, UK, with a bachelor’s degree from the Manchester Metropolitan University, Charlotte currently resides in sunny Barcelona, Spain.

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