On the road again! It sure feels good to be traveling for work again after an almost 3-year moratorium! Recently, I was lucky enough to attend and facilitate the Jasper Mobility Event in Perth, Australia. Jasper brings global mobility professionals, HR specialists, and industry experts together in Australia to discuss the most trending topics in mobility.

Arriving to Perth was great as I no longer had to deal with any pandemic-related restrictions or quarantine rules. As soon as I landed in Australia, I noticed that nobody was wearing facemasks, a stark difference to Hong Kong where facemasks are still required in public.

After settling in, catching up with our Australia & New Zealand partner Lorraine Jennings, and meeting a few clients throughout the week, we finally started the event with a delicious lunch and brief networking opportunity. Katie Leliard, the director of Jasper Events, then officially opened the session with a recognition that we are on indigenous land, something that was new and interesting to me as a visitor! We then moved onto an icebreaker exercise that had participants at tables allocate $5 million dollars to any parts of a mobility program. This was great to see and hear as many of the participants voiced their real concerns and pain points of current mobility trends.

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We went onto to hear from four different corporate participants on attracting and retaining talent, as well as the need for flexibility and agility in mobility. Both sessions were incredibly engaging and insightful, and participants were able to ask their peers questions which allowed everyone to learn something new.

Next, we broke into groups and every sponsor of the event discussed a roundtable topic in their designated area. Lorraine and I discussed how to manage a remote workforce and included findings from our recent benchmark surveys. We first started sharing what we are hearing in the market about remote work, which is that it is becoming even more popular, in a post-pandemic world. This raises challenges such as talent retention and tax compliance.

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We discussed the detail of what sort of arrangements are supported, such as typical work from home, short-term work from anywhere, or even long-term arrangements. Many voiced their concerns that in-person meetings in offices were considered important, and so some talked about how they now designate one day a week to be in the office, whereas others do not have such a requirement since their staff do not seem to miss the in-person meetings.

There are challenges with cybersecurity and tax compliance when working from anywhere. One participant shared that their assignees are allowed to work from anywhere for extended periods of time, but the responsibility of tracking them falls on their mobility head. With a full-time role as an HR professional this added task was proving difficult. Another shared that one of their assignees took annual leave to assist their ailing relative, but in a country where internet security is considered unsafe. They are struggling to get the assignee back to their home country as they chose to elect the work from anywhere policy and did not have time to be briefed about internet security. Qualifications, approval processes, and compensation were hot topics. In fact, one of our sessions had so much interest that all participants could not even fit around one table!

Finally, our closing keynote session was from the Government of Western Australia, which discussed goals and challenges of attracting talent to Perth and other key cities in the state. Both speakers shared immensely interesting information, such as how there are many incentives to bringing in outside talent to Western Australia and how visa restrictions are changing to make Perth the next innovation hub. Overall, participants were very happy to hear that local government has many of the same interests as local businesses.

We then finished the session with networking drinks at the top of the QT Hotel rooftop where I got to learn more about what makes Perth special. It was a productive and fun event, and I look forward to the next one! Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi oi oi!

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