Envoy surveyed its customers from March 25 to April 9 to better understand the impact COVID-19 is having on their immigration and mobility programs
Employers are feeling a notable impact to business operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions and changes to immigration policies have halted global mobility and employment-based immigration, and many organizations are adjusting to a full-time remote work situation until conditions are deemed safe enough to return to offices.
Envoy Global surveyed over 100 of our customers to better understand how HR teams and mobility leaders are responding to these challenges and adjusting processes to maintain a positive employee experience.
Four key takeaways from Envoy’s COVID-19 customer survey
Nearly all customers have implemented a work-from-home situation, and the overwhelming majority found the transition to be smooth
Companies in the U.S. and abroad have adopted blanket work-from-home policies to help slow the spread of the virus and keep their employees healthy and safe. Our survey reflects this trend as nearly all (97.01%) respondents indicated they are currently working remotely. Only 2.99% are still reporting to some sort of physical office.
Depending on the industry and line of work, the transition from working in an office to a remote setting can vary in terms of feasibility. Thirty-nine percent of our customers said the adjustment has been “very easy,” followed closely by 32.84% who said it has been “somewhat easy”. Fifteen percent felt neutral about the transition, and 8.21% indicated that it has been “somewhat difficult”.
Immigration and mobility professionals are relying more than ever on technology to manage teams and processes while working remotely
Survey respondents reported that their companies are using tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and GoTo Meeting, Slack, Google Hangouts and email to schedule video calls and ensure frequent communication with their foreign national employees. Some are using Docusign for signature requirements and JotNot to convert documents into PDFs.
Customers are also leveraging the collaborative capabilities of the Envoy platform to help keep their programs operating as efficiently as possible. Customers specifically mentioned the Communication Center, reporting and analytics and their ability to schedule regular check-ins with their legal team to be most helpful.
“Honestly, the platform is just as easy to use remotely as in the office. Communication has been essential as things have shifted in our environment,” one respondent said.
Other respondents also pointed to GIA attorneys and Envoy staff as an important resource during this time. “We speak directly with Envoy’s team to discuss specific cases and how they are impacted by COVID-19,” the respondent said.
Employers are prioritizing employee experience and are going above and beyond to help ease foreign national anxiety
Foreign national anxiety can be heightened during these uncertain times, and many employers are getting questions from employees that they may not be able to answer. According to our survey results, most foreign nationals are concerned about travel (54.92%) and extensions (55.74%). Starting the green card process is also of concern (37.7%), as are dependents (9.84%). Respondents also reported receiving questions about furloughs and layoffs and how they could impact someone’s status, as well as USCIS delays due to the pandemic and Consulate and field office closures.
To help reduce foreign national anxieties, survey respondents have gone above and beyond to ensure that employees feel as secure as possible. Over 70% of respondents said that their leadership or HR team is sending Covid-19 updates to employees at least once a week.
Most notably, respondents said they are providing additional resources from Envoy and other government websites coupled with increased communication and prioritizing any questions that come through so employees get answers quickly.
“The Envoy platform connects us with attorneys to ask questions, and we use tools like Slack and Zoom to stay connected to employees with immigration needs,” one respondent said.
Against a backdrop of uncertainty, customers remain optimistic that their immigration and mobility programs will resume in the coming months
Looking ahead, 75.21% of respondents are optimistic that global travel and outbound assignments will pick back up in Q3 of this year. In addition, 83.9% of employers said that their organization is not planning any layoffs or reductions in force (RIF), although nearly half (48.3%) have instituted a hiring freeze at their organization.
Although the pandemic has created a unique set of challenges in the realm of global mobility and immigration, employers and HR leaders appear to be taking proactive strategies to protect the foreign national employee experience and ensure that their organizations can effectively resume immigration and mobility programs once conditions improve.
Want to receive updated insights on how your peers are handling mobility and immigration at this time? Participate in our latest employer survey to receive a free report of the findings. To stay up to date on current travel restrictions and policy changes, as well as best practices for employers, visit our comprehensive Covid-19 resource center.
About Envoy Global’s Customer Survey: Envoy Global’s COVID-19 Impact on Immigration and Global Mobility survey was fielded from 03/25/2020 to 04/09/2020 and included 134 human resources and global mobility professionals across industries.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.