During these unprecedented times, Global Mobility is challenged with the difficult task of supporting an international workforce amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey focuses on how companies are handling their international expatriate populations, and the steps Global Mobility is taking to address the unique circumstances due to COVID-19.
On January 30th, I arrived in Manila to start my recent survey quarter, and the Philippines had just confirmed their first case of COVID-19. I observed what seemed like a swift local response as much of the population was already wearing masks, and hand sanitizer was provided in most hotels and restaurants in the Makati area. One supermarket even advised customers to put on a mask upon entering, but it was not mandatory.
In this unprecedented time, AIRINC has created a landing page to serve as a hub to help you learn more about how your peers in global mobility are responding to the impact of COVID-19. In addition we will share advice from our team, exchange rate changes, upcoming events, blog posts related to the crisis, and relevant documents. We also plan to add information related to the COVID-19 recovery.
Last quarter, in the early stages of the global COVID-19 outbreak, I was surveying Southeast Asia. At the time of my transit through Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia had recently suspended flights from mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong. Though normally a carrier that promotes customer self-service, the airline was diverting all travellers from these locations to the check-in counters to undergo screening questions before being allowed to proceed; in fact, they were prohibited from using the automated-check-in machines as you can see in the photo below.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, and its impact to world markets has been reflected in foreign exchange. The impact of COVID-19 touches every part of the economy, and can largely be divided into three categories:
The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting us all with a period of great uncertainty. One thing we have learned from past crises is that we will likely experience economic volatility, including wide exchange rate swings and abnormal patterns of inflation. While these are early days, we have already measured higher rates of inflation in China, as well as significant fluctuations in major currencies. In addition, living conditions have worsened for many across the globe. It is likely economic volatility and restricted lifestyles will be with us for some time.
My primary responsibility is to serve as the strategic point of contact for the AIRINC clients in my region. I work with them to look for ways to help them meet their goals and face their mobility program’s challenges. The COVID-19 outbreak has been a prime example of the latter in 2020. I have been working with clients to ensure they are informed about the conditions facing their assignees and the impacts to the data that they receive from AIRINC – mainly hardship and danger pay.
As of Feb 26, 2020, the number of confirmed cases of CoViD-19 has risen to 91 with 2 fatalities. The anxiety on the ground in Hong Kong is pervasive. In my neighborhood, for example, there was a recent Coronavirus fatality. For many residents in Hong Kong, present events are stirring memories from of our lives during SARS in 2003. I was young at the time and mostly recall the extended holidays and chatting with friends online, but the fear of older residents who lived through previous outbreaks is tangible.
AIRINC recently conducted a “pulse survey” to understand how global companies operating in China who maintain expatriate staff in the country are responding to the outbreak. Out of the 110 companies who participated in the survey, 99 companies or 90% are considering implementing specific actions for assignees in China in response to the spread of the COVID-19.
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has continued to spread over the past week and the World Health Organization named the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on Thursday, January 30. As of Friday morning in China, there were 9,776 confirmed cases and 213 deaths. The WHO stressed in their Thursday press briefing that 99% of cases are in Mainland China. 60% of cases and 96% of deaths are in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak where Wuhan is located. Isolated cases are still emerging internationally, with confirmed cases in Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macau, South Korea, United States, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka.