Mobility Trends Post COVID-19 (by Rene Stegmann, Relocation Africa Group MD)

Navigating with the ideological crystal ball (a superpower I wish I held in the C19 World) and looking at the World ahead what permanent changes do we see in delivering DSP services in Africa.

We all carry scars of this new COVID world, and it has heightened our awareness of our environment. In South Africa we had a complete lock-down, no exercise, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no movies, no sporting events, and no driving to work for a period of 5 weeks. When they relaxed the rules and we were allowed to go to the shops, I experienced anxiety around “when did I have to put my mask on” “what was it protecting me from”, and it took me a little time to feel comfortable, I ran out the door for exercise with this strange mask on my face and when it dropped people shouted at me saying put your mask back on.

We then slowly returned to the office and there was new protocol at the office – someone coughed – how do I react?, at shopping facilities with others, I wondered if they were standing too close to me, and pre-COVID these did not take up any of my thought processes.

I tell you this because I felt anxious about walking around my own neighbourhood, so it occurred to us that assignees moving to different countries are going to be experiencing this much more acutely. We are needing to ensure we manage, protect and comfort the assignee to feel safe with everything we do. I remember Bill Graebel saying at an Alliance meeting in 2019 “treat the assignee like your Grandma” – now I feel like this phrase means something completely different – not only are the assignees fragile and need more comfort they are also now more at risk. The simple things we do – we will now do differently.

COVID 19 has projected the world into a world of VUCA which is Africa normal a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This has given the world a common purpose and common understanding which will have a profound need to fundamentally change the way we treat the environment, human society, and the mindful way we look at the economics of the world.

These all relate to personal situations.

On the other extreme, government regulations are impacting our industry. For example: Due to unemployment in the US President Trump has signed an executive order to block various visa categories to ensure their local employment is safe guarded. Other nations like in the EU have restricted some countries from travel to protect the spread of the virus. These are trends of protectionism. These are two independent examples of how our industry is materially impacted.

Time is not always linear in the same way email leapfrogged us forward from faxes, COVID will leapfrog us to a place we don’t even understand yet.

The additional regulatory and legislative landscape are going to require forethought, planning and collaboration. We are going to have to review and align what can be provided vs what cannot be provided. What does this mean for all of us – We are going to need to be thinking proactively and almost consider the What if scenarios and be steering clearly away from What is in this for me! Perhaps starting a move away from extreme capitalism to a more inclusive and thoughtful way of working. May not sound realistic yet but my crystal ball buzzes at the sound of sustainable options into the future!

We perceive our clients are going to become more cost conscious, therefore this may have an impact on what they are willing to pay for certain services. We will be required to develop new ways of delivering the services (R&D) as well as adhere to additional precautionary measures and regulations which will make services we deliver more expensive. This is going to push the entire supply chain to find solutions ensuring we integrate the high personal touch with technology to achieve a potential lower cost solution.

In some of our African markets it is challenging and risky to offer some lower cost solutions like Self Service type delivery, we are going to have to look for solutions that meet compliance, duty of care and considerations to create efficiencies. But not all is lost – if we look as a DSP at providing a virtual orientation video/tour while the assignee is in their home country – the client would be saving costs on flights, visa’s, accommodation costs and most important time! There certainly will be an upside if we combine the use of technology for certain services but not compromise on the suppliers like your DSP’s who you entrust your assignees care.

In Africa due to property ownership being poorly regulated offering the obvious solution such as the DIY or Self Service would expose the assignee to various risks and neglect of duty of care. In countries like Angola one may be required to pay rentals of up to a year upfront. As this is a poorly regulated property ownership environment, assignees may be using a broker who has no jurisdiction over the property that he has been paid for. These mistakes can be to the tune of $60 000. In order to achieve the balance of cost savings vs self-service in Africa these DIY programs are more complex than may be perceived. Our focus is to ensure we are addressing the clients heightened senses of the impact of VUCA to ensure a sense of comfort and certainty while on assignment.

We know that technology alone will not fulfil the revolutionary push to completely digitise the mobility industry as there are people involved, and we all know moving people is more complicated than moving boxes. Therefore, we are going to need to enhance processes and reduce admin time through technology and digitisation but ensure that we are conscious of the “Happiness” and “Humanness” of the assignee at all times.

We predict that with digital offerings, companies are going to need to offer additional support to the assignee through methods which will support their need to be comfortable and certain of their process so a need to have a consultant and/or a call centre available 24/7 and possibly build video support (5G is coming) to ensure each stage of their relocation is supported and a resource available that can be referred to, to give them the required comfort and certainty.

There are also many safety issues, as Africa being a predominantly developing region, there are more desperate people. We are needing to ensure our communication around security gives assignees comfort and security to move to Africa confidently. Of course, due to this pandemic, their health security will be top of mind for most assignees and it is our responsibility to ensure they are informed that there are indeed high levels of medical resources in many African Countries but we do need to ensure that their evacuation solution is appropriate.

In conclusion, no-one knows what the future holds, but we do know Africa, and we have nearly 30 years’ experience dealing with assignees moving into Africa, and the challenges that COVID has thrown up have forced us to evolve rapidly. We are pivoting our solution with new innovations like our virtual orientation tour, which we were already working on prior to COVID due to the Amazon request for the integrated program in 2018/19 which had seedlings of what is to be our virtual orientation programs. We are confident that with heightened levels of communication we will be able to ensure as smooth a transition for all assignees into Africa.

In our business we are generating a Virtual Orientation Tour which will be presented to clients in a video format which will give them from their home country or from their Quarantined Accommodation a view of the city they are relocating too, it will cover all aspects of a traditional Orientation ensuring it encapsulates the full experience. This will potentially assist clients who are considering talent to be relocated to either convince them to consider the assignment without a physical orientation tour. Look out for the launch in August 2020.

The impact on the customer experience would be to reduce duplicity through efficient digital integration and enhance experiences such as orientation tours virtually, however relocating an assignee to a new host location with a virtual orientation tour, virtual property tours and possible sight unseen scenarios of properties which will lead assignees to potentially be feeling even less comfortable and requiring more human interactions with the local ground team. We need to ensure we are providing Certainty in the new style of delivery and not only concerned about the costs, the assignee’s well-being should be at the forefront of any company’s mind.

With all the unknowns we are going to have to remain flexible and agile to ensure that we adapt to each unique circumstance as we have learned in the past month’s things change rapidly. Communication will be key; we need long sensitive feelers and hyper responsive capabilities at all levels of the organisation and process to ensure we act quickly and appropriately for some of these eventualities. Don’t let fear get the better of us. Learn as we go. And we need to be doing this together and collaboratively with all stakeholders.

Rene Stegmann’s bio

I am Rene Stegmann, I live just below Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.  I am the owner of The Relocation Africa Group covering Immigration, Destination Services, International Payroll and Expense Management as well as Research on Housing and Cost of living Surveys across the continent of Africa of which there are 54 countries. We have been in business for 28 years and continue to expand and diversify on the continent of Africa with our main purpose being to Help our clients Embrace the Unknown

I hold a Masters in Strategic Marketing and did my thesis on Expatriate Hurdles in Africa, I have recently completed a Cambridge Program in Sustainable Development in the Post Capitalist World, as I hold some of these strategic thrusts close to my heart and value and hope the world can achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for our plant and our children’s sake. I am married to Andrew and have two children aged 18 and 15 and 2 fur Boxers.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2], [3].

Wits University Begins COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

The trial subjects will come from hotspots where the risk of the coronavirus was the highest.

Two thousand South African volunteers are set to be given the Wits and Oxford Universities vaccine for COVID-19 over the next two months. And by the end of the year, scientists will know if it works.

Wits University is expected to launch the clinical trials on Wednesday while 7,000 more people in the UK and 10,000 in the US would also take part in the trial.

Of the 2,000 participants, 1,950 are HIV negative and 50 people are living with HIV and all are between 18 to 65.
Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University Shabir Madhi is leading the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

“We are trying to see whether there is at least 60% protection against COVID-19, it might be higher or lower. If it is lower, our study would not have the power to conclusively say whether the vaccine works or not,” Madhi said.

The trial subjects will come from hotspots where the risk of the coronavirus was the highest.

“As the world rallies to find health solutions, a South African endeavour for the development of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is testament to our commitment of supporting healthcare innovation to save lives,” said Professor Glenda Gray.

The study will cost $150 million and is funded by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Bill Gates Foundation.

Watch the announcement of the vaccine trial below.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Expat Perspective: How to Create a Happy Wardrobe

This article was originally published by Vivian Chiona of Expat Nest.

If you’re emigrating, presumably many factors in your life are changing. There’s a big adjustment period you may have to go through, and this can be stressful. For some, their wardrobe is a reflection of their personality, or even their mental state. A happy wardrobe may help you get through the cultural and lifestyle changes involved with becoming an expat.

What you wear and how you feel about your clothes can affect your mood, attitude and confidence. Image and style consultant Neha Bhandari discusses why and offers some simple tips to creating a wardrobe that you feel good about.

Clothing is about so much more than just “throwing a few items together”. The way we dress is a form of self-expression, and our “look” also influences the way others perceive and respond to us.

Studies affirm that what we wear also affects our psychological state. For example, when you catch sight of a garment that you’ve been complimented on before, all the good feelings that you experienced at the time return. You feel positive about that item, and positive about wearing it! Conversely, opening your wardrobe and being confronted by clothing you don’t like or that doesn’t suit or fit you well fosters negativity. And most of us will avoid an outfit we were wearing when something negative happened, such as an accident, breakup, or job loss.

Our clothes can bring up strong emotional associations – some positive, some negative. The good news is that we can actively enhance our happiness by wearing items that evoke positive feelings, elicit positive reactions from others, or remind us of positive experiences. We can all think of instances when we have chosen an outfit with the deliberate intent to change our mood – for example, to bolster our confidence before a job interview or a date.

Fashion is a powerful tool in your everyday life. As well as enhancing our psychological state, how we are dressed can improve our performance of tasks. We achieve more when we feel we are dressed appropriately for an occasion.

It’s all about style – your style

In our materialistic society, the fundamental purposes of clothing – like protection against the elements and self-expression – can be lost in the relentless pursuit of the next trend. Fashion trends come and go… style is forever and for everyone! Whatever shape or age you may be, you deserve to look and feel your best. You deserve to empower yourself and enjoy your wardrobe.

Attaining body confidence can be difficult, though, as it is influenced by how you view your physique and by your belief systems. We are our own worst critics; we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves!

Here are simple ways to feel more positive and confident about the way you dress:

  • Emphasise your best feature(s) in the way you dress – this will immediately boost your confidence. We all have at least one feature that is fantastic.
  • Choose clothes that work for you and for your body instead of blindly following trends.
  • Choose pieces that make you feel like your best self. Sometimes the wrong size or an awkward fit can trigger insecurity.
  • Treat yourself to a visit with a personal style consultant – it’s fun to explore different options with an expert and you’ll learn what does and doesn’t work for you.
  • Invest in a colour analysis done by a personal stylist – this will help you make better and quicker shopping decisions.
  • Start with building your foundation/basics wardrobe – doing this will help you create multiple outfits with a combination of basic and high fashion pieces.
  • Analyse your lifestyle to decipher how you spend your time – your wardrobe should represent your lifestyle. For example, if you go out or party 20% of the time, your party clothes shouldn’t exceed 20-25% of your wardrobe.

Create a happy wardrobe

Your clothing can make you feel frustrated…. or it can ignite an amazing sense of confidence and self-love, and give you the opportunity to show off your unique style and personality.

Everyone has a particular type of clothing that they gravitate toward when browsing through the items on display in a store – something you cannot walk past without stopping to touch it. Cosy wool knit, fierce leopard print, dazzling sequins or soft cashmere? Pay attention to your emotions when you shop and identify what makes your body and senses react. If you’re happy when you buy it, chances are you’ll be happy when you wear it!

Your goal is to create a wardrobe that you love dipping into every morning, and that makes you feel incredible. I like to call it a happy wardrobe. But remember, you’re never fully dressed without your smile!

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Relocation Africa Immigration Interview With immVest’s Roderick Cutajar

Lynn Mackenzie, our Immigration Lead, recently had the privilege of interviewing Roderick Cutajar, Co-Founder and CEO of immVest International, which, based in Malta, provides a one-stop shop for immigration by investment advisory services (B2B & B2C) to those aspiring to find a second permanent residency or citizenship. Roderick is also a member of the Investment Migration Council.

To listen to Lynn and Roderick’s conversation about immigration in the current context, click here to view the recording, or view it below.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Roderick for his insights. We hope you enjoy the recording.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Are Companies Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Business leaders are currently facing two high-level challenges: the need for business model innovation and identifying how best to use the next generation of technologies.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) gaining momentum, companies must prepare themselves to do things differently.

Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings

“Typical innovation approaches will no longer be enough as we move into the digital future. Only companies that master the profound technological challenges 4IR is creating will remain relevant – and they need to do more than merely adopt technologies because their competitors are doing so. Businesses looking to survive, and thrive, need to master the technological challenges and transform them into opportunities.”

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report predicts that leaders and organisations will need to understand and learn to harness four major technologies – 5G, cloud technology, big data and AI. Firth points out that the biggest challenge for businesses today is handling the emerging business models and evolving customer expectations created by technology leaders.

We are living in a world where unforeseen technological innovation is the new normal, and companies are grappling with how to best use new technologies such as AI and big data to create real value. They are also struggling to balance product innovation against business model innovation. At the same time, customers are demanding real-time, personalised experiences. Consumers can no longer be viewed as the end users of products, but must be seen as active participants in the supply chain. As a result, any new technology must be implemented as part of a strategic decision to solve today – and tomorrow’s – customer demands.

Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings

“We are already seeing applications of artificial intelligence in supply chain management and customer service interactions, but the technology is still in its infancy, relatively speaking, and we have a long way to go before it delivers the value businesses and customers expect from it. That being said, companies that embrace AI and integrate it into every element of their business and technology strategies today, are the ones that will be leading the future.”

Firth adds that developing and nurturing a future-focused workforce is also essential. “Investments in technology should be synchronised with investments into people. Your people are going to use and interact with these technologies on a daily basis, so they should have the appropriate skills and knowledge to ensure that any transformation initiatives a company undertakes is successful. If a company only focuses on the technology, it is missing an opportunity to close critical skills gaps and future-proof itself.”

Almost all organisations in the future will be digital, and 60% of all global GDP will come from digital sources by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum. In light of this, Firth says that companies not keeping on top of emerging technologies and understanding how to harness their capabilities may as well already close their doors. “The coming decade will be a pivotal time for organisations to make themselves 4IR-ready. The successful businesses of the future will be the ones that can take decisions at light speed, and act on their insights equally fast,” he concludes.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].