Santa Fe Relocation’s Global Mobility Survey 2020/21 ‘REPURPOSE: Challenging change’

We’re delighted to share our ninth edition of our annual Global Mobility Survey, the research aims to support HR/Global Mobility teams to have more strategic conversations with leadership and to benchmark and review current Global Mobility programmes, to help drive policy.

The report will allow you to:

+ Find out about international mobility trends for 2020-21 and make your forecasts for the profession in the next two years.
+ Have a point of reference for your international mobility activities in the form of the biggest global survey carried out among international mobility professionals.

In the GMS report 2019, REVISION, our research clearly highlighted the necessity and desire of Global Mobility professionals to transform their roles to focus on value-based activities such as talent planning, advisory support, enhanced analytics and risk profiling. The Business Leaders research also indicated that they too were looking for a stronger business contribution from Global Mobility, while recognising that the operational role of mobilising employees still had to be delivered. Fast forward eighteen months and we are now in the middle of a global pandemic that has dramatically impacted our business and social lives.

This year we look at how organisations and HR/Global Mobility professionals are responding and adapting to these external pressures. The report addresses three critical areas:

Transformation: What value contribution will be expected from HR/Global Mobility professionals?

Talent: How will employees be deployed internationally?

Thrive: How do organisations manage risk and ensure duty of care?

For further information on how Santa Fe Relocation can help you shape your Mobility programmes, contact John Rason, Global Head of Consulting

Download the full report

Related content:

Video Teaser

Live webinar: 2020/21 Global Mobility Survey—Key findings

Global Mobility organisation

As businesses decide to re-activate their international talent deployment, mobility teams are faced with situations that are less predictable in terms of time and outcomes, such as the ability to relocate to a host country with a familiar process and structure. Immigration conditions are changing and as government employees have also been on lockdown, it is likely that there will be a backlog of cases to manage.

of Global Mobility teams expect digital innovation to result in improved management of compliance and risk through connected systems and processes.
of Global Mobility teams do not provide data analytics on total programme costs.
of Global Mobility teams are planning to invest in new technology over the next 24 months.
International work arrangements

The way we deploy and manage mobile talent has shifted as businesses have had to respond quickly to support talent already on assignment whilst also managing the pipeline of roles for mobile employees. Leveraging alternative assignment types and broadening the mobile talent pool will be critical to ensuring business and talent objectives are met in very challenging economic, public health and political circumstances. Employee health and wellbeing became the immediate priority for organisations as the pandemic hit. Looking forward, as business starts up again, the health and wellbeing of mobile employees will have an impact on business outcomes, and mobility programmes will need to adapt to ensure roles are filled and talent developed for success.

full-time and part-time Global Mobility professionals employed by organisations represented in this survey.
of businesses initiated short-term assignments in 2019 and 57% of businesses initiated long-term assignments.
of all international assignees were female.
Risk and compliance

In this final section, we explore the different dimensions of risks and opportunities for organisations. We have seen throughout the report that a holistic approach is required to ensure that internationally mobile employees can thrive and enjoy their work. Doing so in a compliant way ensures that the organisation can flourish and focus on positive outcomes rather than defensive interventions. This section highlights that risks can be people and compliance related.

of Global Mobility teams identify cultural differences as the key factor in challenging locations.
of Global Mobility teams have an immigration programme in place to ensure their business travellers are compliant.
of Global Mobility teams use Excel spreadsheets to manage business travellers.

Research Methodology

Santa Fe Relocation commissioned Savanta to conduct the Global Mobility Survey 2020/21.
We surveyed 838 professionals responsible for Global Mobility programmes across 45 countries. In addition, 55 Business Leaders were surveyed, spanning the UK, the US, France, Singapore and Hong Kong

  • check_circle5.1m total number of staff employed globally by organisations that took part in this survey.
  • check_circle675,000 internationally mobile employees managed by organisations that took part in this survey.
  • check_circle1m+ business travellers managed by organisations that took part in this survey.



This research report is part of Santa Fe Relocation’s ‘Global Mobility Insights’ series – supporting HR/Global Mobility teams manage a globally mobile workforce.
The survey will be followed by a series of webinars and whitepapers produced throughout the year by Santa Fe Relocation’s consulting team, ensuring you are kept on top of trends.



In addition to sharing the results from the Global Mobility survey 2020/21, this report also provides critical analysis and insights from our in-house subject matter experts and external industry leaders.

Julia Palmer
Chief Operating Officer (COO), Relocation with Santa Fe Relocation
A respected mobility advisor globally, Julia has 20 years’ big four experience working with clients across all regions and industries to develop their Global Mobility strategy and supporting framework. She has forged her expertise by transforming the mobility programmes of a wide range of organisations, from multinational conglomerates to brand new start-ups seeking to globalise; consistently enabling these clients to form closer links between the talent and mobility agenda, with the use of data and insights.

John Rason
Group Head of Consulting, with Santa Fe Relocation
Recognised as a thought leader and speaker on strategic international HR, talent management and Global Mobility, John has 15 years of global consultancy experience. Having previously held senior HR leadership roles in numerous global businesses across a range of industry sectors, John now works with global organisations to create value and improve the structure of Global Mobility programmes; focusing on aligning strategic objectives with operational delivery.
Peter Graham
Group Director Relocation, Immigration
Peter has worked in the field of immigration for more than 30 years. His career spans both government and private sector work. Peter spent 17 years at the UK Home Office working in both national and international immigration policy and strategy where he had the opportunity to work in every stage of the immigration lifecycle. Peter joined Santa Fe Relocation in March 2017 after having spent the previous 10 years leading IBM’s global border and immigration business. A recognised thought leader and regular speaker on border and immigration matters, Peter included among his clients the World Economic Forum, Interpol, Department of Homeland Security, Australia Customs, the Irish Medicines Board and the UK Home Office.
Montserrat López Santín
Relocation Director, Southern Europe with Santa Fe Relocation
Montserrat has worked in the business for 19 years in various functional areas, providing support to people and companies by establishing their mobility programmes from arrival to final departure. She currently manages the daily advice to companies responsible for relocating families around the world, tailoring their strategy to their specific needs as well as accompany them in their development into new offices and projects, assessing areas such as housing, schooling or registrations for destinations globally. Master’s degree in HR Management she is part of the teaching staff of the Postgraduate HR Internationalisation and Global Mobility at the University UPF, Barcelona School of Management.


check_circleDinesh Jangra
Global Practice Leader, Global Mobility Services with Crowe
check_circleErnst Steltenpohl
Co-founder, Expatise Academy
check_circleDr Phil Renshaw
Visiting Fellow, Cranfield University
Director, Coaching On the Go
check_circleRaquel Tovar
Manager Employee Mobility with CommScope
check_circleCassi Bauer
Director, Global Mobility with Oceaneering
check_circleVéronique Smets
Head of International Mobility with Engie
check_circleDavid Carmichael
Director, Global Mobility, COE with CGI
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