After a lot of companies cancelled their business trips last year because of COVID-19, 2021 will be the year to restart international projects. Sadly, however, travelling for business will never be the same. The ongoing change is perhaps best illustrated by an example of a project of one of our clients in Israel.
Our client, a large construction firm, was in the final phase of a three-year construction project. After three years of hard work, the last months would be crucial to complete the project.. The client was on course to complete the project on schedule when disaster struck. As a result of the pandemic, Israel was one of the first countries in the world to go into lockdown and implement travel restrictions.
Quick to fulfil its duty of care, the client repatriated its complete staff from the country. As a result, the project came to a complete standstill. Shortly after, company management started contemplating how and when to fly their staff back in to complete the project. To assist in this decision-making process, we advised our client to answer three crucial questions.
Is it business essential?
The first question that must be answered, when traveling in times of a pandemic, is whether the trip is business essential. In other words: is the travel crucial for business continuity, revenue and/or profits? For our client, this question was an easy one: liabilities were looming if the project was delayed. Getting their staff back to work, as soon as possible, was crucial in terms of both revenue and profits.
Is it possible?
The second question centres around national entry restrictions at the point of destination. The entry restrictions vary greatly depending on the point of destination and the nationality of the traveller. Even more important, they are prone to change without prior notice.
This question posed a real problem to our client. Foreigners were banned from entering Israel. Only in very select cases would the authorities provide a visa for non-Israeli’s. We supported our client in navigating through the complex regulations.
Is it safe?
Just knowing that you can enter a certain country, however, does not necessarily mean that you should. This is even more true when traveling in times of corona. When travelling to challenging environments in normal times, it is important to be aware of the local political, economic, social and security situation. COVID-19 added a whole new dimension to this analysis. Depending on the local trajectory of the virus, domestic restrictions are imposed, and the medical capacity can be overstretched.
The importance of thorough analysis was definitely shown in the case of our client. Company staff returned to Israel after the peak of the first wave. There were no more restrictions on the freedom of movement and medical capacity was ample. It seemed like there was nothing to worry about. This all changed when the COVID-19 numbers started increasing rapidly again. A lockdown was reimposed, and ICU-capacity went down significantly.
By providing a weekly update on the COVID-19 risk and medical capacity as well as domestic stability, our client was able to make sound decisions based on the right information. Due to our monitoring, company management knew when to stop flying new staff in and when to return home. As a result, the client could finish the project on schedule and all employees returned home safely.
Is your company facing similar problems and would you like to know how we can support you in restarting your international projects? Request a free consultation below.
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