Will Brexit be a factor influencing the relocation of some business to EU countries?
The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed in December 2020 made it possible to avoid the worst-case scenario – "no-deal Brexit". However, predictions of many economists show some concerns about the possible negative effects of the UK leaving the single European market and Customs Union. In their opinion, this could result in higher costs for British companies, which could in turn lead to higher consumer prices, job losses and worsening prospects for exports. Some of the major challenges identified as facing the UK economy are trade difficulties resulting from the loss of unfettered access to the EU market and restrictions on the free movement of goods, as well as possible disturbance to the labour market related to the end of the free movement of people. Brexit will also influence companies' investment decisions. There is a risk that international corporations and foreign investors will no longer perceive Britain as a good base to start investing in Europe. Although now Britain seems like it won't lose its status as Europe's financial capital, some global banks are transferring, or planning to, some of their operations from London to EU countries. For many UK firms, ensuring smooth operation and seamless access to EU markets without being exposed to the negative effects of changes may mean the need to consider relocating activities or launching new investments in the EU.
Relocating business or launching ventures in new markets is always a challenge.
Arranging company's activities in a new place in an efficient way present both business and operational challenges. The selection of the market and location for future activities, simultaneously considering economic, legal, tax and administrative aspects, are certainly key issues. At the same time, the importance of the issue of relocating people, which is associated with most projects – opening new representative offices or branches, building factories – cannot be underestimated. Regardless of the roles of people who have to move, their safety, being well prepared for new living conditions and their comfort during the process of change constitute the basis of their continuing work and personal life. The importance of relocation issues is also reflected in the costs of these processes. Housing expenses and cost of living allowances are often significant, if not one of the key costs in such projects. Therefore, aspects related to the relocation of people in business projects are one of the most important issues in determining the effectiveness and efficiency of their implementation and thus should be subject to considerable analysis and adequate preparation before any further steps are taken by the company.
Consider the support of specialists when relocating employees.
The required workload, often not related to the core business of the company, the need to have access to professional knowledge and to engage additional resources in the company are good reasons for considering the use of companies with specialised expertise in projects related to the relocation of people.
Global moving and relocation service providers
Global moving and relocation service providers are companies which deal with the relocation in the most comprehensive way. These companies, operating in global markets, with an extensive network of offices in various parts of the world, offer services supporting the entire process of relocation of resources. They may start with market and industry analysis and benchmarking still at the pre-decision stage. This helps clients plan their projects to meet their business goals, taking into account regional peculiarities of service delivery in certain countries. Additionally, they may provide cost estimation services for doing business in certain destinations, assessment of legal and tax aspects, and of the social and economic environment, and finally the local aspects related to the relocation of people. Such relocation-service providers ensure coverage of all immigration issues, including arrangement of visas and work permits (which, in the case of UK citizens, have become far more complex than they hitherto were). They may provide analyses of the labour market and employment costs, as well as real estate market analyses in the context of accommodation of employees. They offer support for relocated people in the processes of arranging a new life in a new place and adapting to it, such as cross-cultural training, language training, arranging schools for children, or medical care for relocated families, and many other aspects related to the change of residence. These companies can also provide reporting services or technological support in projects implemented by clients.
This type of consulting services will be a good choice for large projects, such as building new factories, relocating or starting new production lines, company branches. They will be best suited for all undertakings where there is a need to carry out many critical activities on a large scale. The greatest value of cooperation with global suppliers is the possibility of full outsourcing of all services and comprehensive handling in a global context. And although quite obviously this is reflected in the cost of the service, it’s because these global providers are backed up by extensive knowledge and experience, as well as expert resources in local markets.
There are often smaller-scale projects that companies want to implement using their in-house resources. It may also be the case that the company already has experience in the implementation of investment projects related to relocation and its decision-making or even implementation processes are advanced. Such a company has specific, carefully selected areas in which it needs support and then it reaches for the help of companies that specialise in handling particular stages of the relocation process. These may be, for example, formal and official issues related to employees, such as handling migration issues, arrangement of residence visas or work permits.
Temporary Corporate Housing.
A special area in the process of relocation of employees is arranging places of their temporary stay – place of residence. In the process of selecting such places, there are many factors to be considered, which may determine the effectiveness of projects and, equally important, the level of satisfaction of the relocated people. The choice of the location and type of accommodation depends on the specifics of the project – whether it involves temporary, short, medium or long-term relocation. It should meet the business requirements of the project being implemented such as the location of the office, factory, and internal corporate policy requirements, as well as the personal needs and expectations of relocated people. Expenses related to rental and services related to the temporary stay of relocated people are one of the biggest costs in the relocation process.
There are various forms of accommodation to choose from – from hotel services, apartment hotels, through serviced apartments, to medium- or long-term rental of apartments or houses directly from property owners. Each of the options has got its own advantages and disadvantages. Professional temporary corporate housing agencies, cooperating on a daily basis with many real estate agents in local markets, have excellent market knowledge which covers availability of certain types of real estate, formal requirements related to the rental arrangement, and finally prices. Due to their competences, expertise and market knowledge, they can guarantee a variety of forms of medium- or long-term accommodation tailored to the needs of the project, and thus, to reduce the burden on clients' shoulders by taking over the process of relocating people together with their families, often with their belongings, to a new place. Good agencies, acting on behalf of their clients, recommend the best, most effective solutions to help them to optimise their costs, and at the same time provide safe and high-quality solutions. They assume all tasks related to cooperation with real estate suppliers, negotiating prices and terms of leases, signing contracts and carrying out all other formalities. They guarantee to meet the requirements defined by their clients. They also provide support to expats during their journey, at the moment of arrival, as well as in the process of getting settled in a new place, by providing selected settling-in services or recommending reliable partners who can help organise life in a new place.
For example, based on experience, we can say that the process of organising efficiently the relocation of a group of about 100 people, moving to Poland from one of its neighbours, engages at least five to seven people for a few hours a day for several weeks. Such a process covers the definition of the needs of the client and relocated persons, analysis of the real estate market at the destination, selection of the best solutions for accommodation, price negotiations and arrangement of cooperation with real estate suppliers, as well as taking care of basic issues after the arrival of people – including obtaining documents for relocated persons, access to banking services, insurance and social-security coverage, local telephones arrangement, etc. Companies that want to deal with relocation in-house will need to engage people and deal with the challenges resulting from its limitations in expertise, knowledge of procedures and regulations.
It is impossible to list in one article all the key aspects for the effective arrangement and implementation of people relocation processes. The above-mentioned elements only indicate their scope. Therefore, in considering how to implement such projects, it is worth comparing the benefits and costs of carrying them out with in-house resources with the alternative provided by the support of professional partners specialising in such issues.