Dwellworks Living Global Corporate Housing Solutions - Vancouver

How Have Duty of Care Policies Changed?

A Different World for Travel and Workforce Mobility

Business travelers are returning to the road and skies and employers are reactivating and relocating their talent, in some locations at an even greater pace than in 2019. 

Global mobility, whether for travel or relocation, is coming back to a world of changed expectations. We last visited this topic in a  previous blog post and the world has changed significantly since then.

Chief among these changes is the increased expectations of the workforce itself as well as the increased obligations of the employer to their mobile talent.

Collectively, these expectations and obligations are known as Duty of Care, and increasingly that also includes Sustainability, as investors, employees, and a broader stakeholder group are now looking at companies for their responsible actions for the good of the planet, as well as of the people in their care.

How do all these key expectations fit together? Let’s take a look at the trends.


How has Duty of Care changed?

In the ‘before’ times, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Duty of Care in relocation and business travel was primarily associated with risk mitigation and physical safety. 

Large-scale global engineering, logistics, and energy firms, for example, had well-documented procedures for safety and security for their operations, for the housing of their international travelers and employees on assignment, and for the effective tracking and evacuation of employees in the event of political unrest and natural disasters.

The concept was to provide care and support in extreme or exceptional circumstances. As the mobile workforce became more diverse and global travel became more common, the definition of risk and of risk mitigation became broader.

Companies provided more extensive training and support to prepare their employees to successfully adapt to and participate in the daily work and cultural life of their destinations, since cultural misunderstandings could also trigger risks, such as lost business opportunities and failed assignments.

More recently, the ‘rare’ instances of political upheaval, climate-caused disasters, and adverse public-health outbreaks have become much more common.

Pre-and post-pandemic, employees have made clear they expect their employers to assume greater responsibility for their health, safety, and well-being on the job…including travel, project work, short- and long-term assignments, and permanent relocations/transitions into new geographies.

In Europe, "duty of care" has the force of law, and in the US, employers are learning that they are increasingly expected to provide not only a response to high-risk events but to create an environment of well-being for their employees’ daily work.

BTN recently quoted a leading travel management executive on Duty of Care, stating: “These [pandemic] considerations have remained a priority. They are a key part of the employer value proposition – today, there’s a greater focus on employee burnout, attrition, retention, and talent acquisition.” 


Duty of Care Expectations in Global Travel and Mobility

In our industry, this topic is on the agenda at every major conference and regional gathering, including the recent Great Lakes Relocation Council in Cleveland, the GBTA Convention in San Diego, and the upcoming Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium in Las Vegas.

Duty of Care has come to mean supporting the whole person, providing an environment of physical and social/emotional well-being for a diverse, inclusive, and global workforce, working from home, working from the office, and working on the road.

Duty of Care is both compassionate and practical.

For all the headwinds we face coming out of the pandemic, employers in most global employment capitals are still competing fiercely for talent and that talent has a high expectation for support and service.

A recent GBTA update noted, “as employees return to business travel, many have faced hurdles … GBTA stakeholders most often report they and/or their colleagues have experienced confusion on travel restrictions/travel documentation (63%), are more anxious or stressed about business travel (45%) or have had challenges when navigating airports and security rules (36%).”


How can Accommodations and Destination Services be part of the Duty of Care solution?

As noted, travelers expect to be supported in a world of new guidelines and safety, beyond masks and vaccination requirements.

Employees may prefer the greater privacy of furnished accommodations versus hotels, for example. In a stay of more than 30 days, a serviced apartment will almost always be less expensive than a hotel, provide an employee with more work/living space, and have less traffic at the property. 

Hotels continue to be challenged with a full return to staff and have fewer housekeeping and dining options than before. An employee in furnished accommodations has the option to prepare their own meals and/or access delivery services.

An apartment setting is a message to the employee that the company has a ‘traveler-centric’ policy, meaning the accommodations and related benefits offered are aligned with the length of stay, frequency of travel, and personal as well as business needs of the traveler.

Similarly, employees may need familiarization and area orientation support beyond online search.

A local expert can explain why apartments in London are scarce (over 50% of the inventory was sold off during the recent real estate boom) or why the "most local" school may not be an option (priority given to local residents and recent Ukrainian refugees) or why obtaining a national identity card for social services can take up to 12 weeks (pandemic backlog and staffing shortages).

Duty of Care is a duty to inform and local resources are the most reliable way to get practical and actionable information.


How do Sustainability and Duty of Care relate? 

Good Environmental, Social and Governance practices align well with Duty of Care.  ESG initiatives – the actions taken and documented by a company to support independent assessment of its practices beyond financial results - are taking hold.

According to an industry consultant site, 88% of publicly traded companies, 79% of the venture and private equity-backed companies, and 67% of privately-owned companies have ESG initiatives in place.

The documentation and practices that support ESG initiatives will necessarily include a company’s plan for the well-being of its associates and the engagement of its supply chain, not only in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions reduction but in supporting the unique requirements of diverse employee and travel populations.

Strategic travel planning …. fewer trips, more productivity…is a trend that takes into account this dual focus on employee well-being and carbon footprint reduction, all while focused on business results.

Per GBTA, “corporate travel managers recognize sustainability will impact their travel program. The most frequently cited expectations include fewer trips per employee overall (54%) and longer, multi-purpose business trips (43%) and more rail and multi-modal options (34%).”


How do you take the first steps of Duty of Care and Sustainability? 

Most companies have travel policies, relocation policies, and risk assessment/disaster recovery/business continuity plans.

In a post-pandemic world that is more aware of risks….in public health, climate, global politics, and economic shifts. It makes sense to review all these policies through the lens of Duty of Care and Sustainability. 

Foundational steps would include:

  • Gathering input - not only from risk and legal resources, but from associates, HR, and supply chain partners aware of the expectations of your mobile workforce on the ground, in real-time.
  • Prioritizing risk and opportunity - no document can cover every risk or every opportunity – stack rank the areas of greatest risk and greatest opportunity to positively impact employee well-being and organize your policy accordingly.
  • Creating clear and comprehensive communications effective Duty of Care means making sure all stakeholders know their responsibilities and the actions to take when concerns arise, and where to find resources and support.
  • Embedding in the culture – Duty of Care is a practice, not just a policy. Offer options that support choice and recognition of individual needs, while providing a framework that defines the company’s commitments and obligations.

For more specifics, check out the recommendations in our Quick Reference Guide: The Six Pillars of Duty of Care.

Companies thrive when their talent connects with each other, their clients and customers, and the external market.

Duty of Care practices is a strong indicator to your partners and people that you’re committed to them in a new world of expectations and opportunity.


Check out our blog,  A Buyer's Guide to Corporate Housing to learn about different providers and what they offer to their clients. 


Dwellworks Living: Global Solutions for Corporate Accommodations 

Dwellworks Living is committed to providing our clients and their employees with the best possible corporate housing and serviced accommodations experience. With a global network of property partners, a tri-regional team of customer experience and supply chain professionals, and a wide range of services for global mobility and travel customers, Dwellworks Living can provide the perfect corporate housing solution for any need or budget.

Dwellworks Living is the global corporate housing solution of Dwellworks, an award-winning, business-to-business provider of global mobility and business travel services. As a global leader in corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions, Dwellworks Living is uniquely positioned to meet the temporary living needs of businesses and their employees who are relocating or traveling on short-, medium- or extended-stays. With 60,000 high-quality professionally managed properties in over 125 countries worldwide, Dwellworks Living is the preferred housing solutions partner of many Fortune 1000 and leading relocation management companies.

Dwellworks Living's corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions are designed to help businesses attract and retain top talent, support employee productivity, and ensure a smooth and successful relocation or business travel experience. In addition to our core global accommodations management services, Dwellworks Living, through our worldwide network of local experts, is uniquely capable of offering our clients expanded and related services, such as area orientations, group move assistance, destination services and intercultural training.

Whether you have corporate housing needs for an individual employee or a large team, Dwellworks Living can provide the serviced accommodations solutions you need anywhere in the world to ensure a safe and successful stay. Please contact us to learn more or visit our Properties page to begin your search for global corporate housing accommodations.

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