Global Work Glossary

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Global mobility vs. international mobility

Why is international mobility important?

How can companies nurture international mobility?


What is international mobility

International mobility focuses on the educational, professional, social, and intercultural skills that make an individual experienced and equipped for international travel and relocation. 

These skilled workers will have an easier transition integrating with different cultures, navigating new countries, and interacting with local communities.

Global mobility vs. international mobility

While global mobility centers around a company’s ability to support its workforce as it moves to different locations worldwide, international mobility focuses on an individual’s ability to travel outside their home country.

Why is international mobility important?

As the world becomes increasingly globalized, having talent with international mobility skills is beneficial. These skills enable your company to scale that much faster, as your team will be able to work and interact in new countries and cultures seamlessly. 

Getting a worker up to speed on new customs and cultures takes time. Engaging mobile employees or contractors with high international mobility can quickly adapt to their surroundings and won’t require significant training or hand-holding. 

Additionally, international mobility exposes your enterprise to new perspectives that support problem-solving and innovation and helps to improve diversity within your organization. Deploying a team member to operate in a new location enables them to bring fresh perspectives to your company.

By hiring people with international mobility skills or nurturing your team members to be more internationally mobile, your company will become more agile and prepared in case of a skills shortage. Your team will be ready to capitalize on any new opportunities that open up in a foreign market or flex and diversify in case of market volatility. 

Setting the foundation for international mobility ensures that your team members are prepared for any scenario and will not delay their arrival to a new country. 

How can companies nurture international mobility?

If you want to globalize your workforce, you don’t necessarily have to drop everything and start recruiting people with international mobility skills. Instead, you can nurture the international mobility skills of your current staff.

There are two primary ways that a company can foster international mobility for its team members: international mobility programs and immigration programs.

International mobility programs

Companies can develop international mobility programs to support professional development by enabling their employees to relocate and travel with work. The international mobility programs could involve temporary or short-term assignments, long-term assignments, or cultural exchanges. 

Start by gauging the interest of your current employees. From there, you can set up learning modules so they can begin developing the skills they need to work in another county. These modules can be a part of your global mobility strategy. If your employees have the chance to work towards a goal of an assignment in a foreign country, they’ll be more engaged with their work and will likely have a more positive overall employee experience

Immigration programs

Companies may provide immigration programs to enable workers to relocate to different countries to gain experience or become permanent residents. Companies must check eligibility and assist with work visa procurement for the program to be viable.

Immigration programs are increasingly popular now that remote work has become a successful business model. The biggest thing to consider with immigration programs is how the company handles global employment laws and international taxes.


Is international mobility a desirable skill? 

Yes. International mobility is a desirable quality in today’s world of work. Workers with international mobility experience increase their chances of receiving an offer of employment since they possess the skills to support a company’s global expansion plans. 

International mobility skills include the following: 

  • Language skills

  • Cross-cultural communication skills

  • The ability to adapt to social rules and expectations

  • Interpersonal relations and improved social intelligence

  • Empathy towards different cultural and social backgrounds

  • Intercultural understanding

  • Familiarity with other economic and social contexts

  • Cultural awareness, sensitivity, and intelligence

Can a worker develop international mobility skills?

Yes. Whether a person receives training through their employer or pursues skills development elsewhere, they can take steps to increase their international mobility.

How can workers improve their international mobility? 

Workers can improve their international mobility through professional and personal experiences. Development opportunities could involve:

  • Traveling to another country for cultural immersion

  • Learning a new language

  • Educating themselves about the workplace culture in a foreign country

Which professions require international mobility? 

Arguably any profession requiring the individual to travel, relocate for work, or interact with a foreign market requires international mobility experience. International mobility is essential for companies that want to increase their global reach.

I have internationally mobile employees–how do I keep track of them?

One of the most challenging aspects of international mobility (and globalization) for most companies is staying on top of the various international regulations. The most effective way to keep track of a global remote workforce is to use a global HR and payroll system. A platform like this enables organizations to hire, pay, and manage international employees and contractors without opening legal entities while keeping you compliant.

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