Well, another year has past for the H&R Group (including Relo Japan) and Relo Network Asia companies and we must simply be thankful that we are managing our way through this pandemic and will be much stronger on the other side.
For Japan, it has been a particularly tough year. We have lived it in preparation for border openings, that give or take a few weeks of relaxation, never happened. With the border still closed today, all of our business lines in Japan have suffered, as our clients have not been able to move in many of their people. There have been some exceptions and we are pleased to service those clients who have been allowed entry into Japan, but it has otherwise been a frustrating year, made all the more difficult by less government support and the rising costs of doing business.
The future is definitely not doom and gloom, however, with 100s of assignees waiting outside Japan for our help once the borders do open. We look forward to getting busy soon, as we manage an influx of those keen to begin or re-start their Japan experience.
In contrast, for Relo Network Asia business has boomed. We end the year having surpassed 2019 initiations and with completed services also close to that of 2019 levels. Of course, many restrictions exist, and some countries are more open than others, but it is encouraging to see governments across Asia balancing public health policies with that of allowing legitimate business to live with COVID and move people where they are needed.
Whilst we can see that Omicron might mean a period where some restrictions take a step back, we feel confident that 2022 will top 2021 in terms of activity. Our teams are growing in line with this anticipation.
I would like to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt thank you to all our teams in both Japan and Asia. The last 2 years has been a real roller coaster, and all of you have done a fabulous job to stay both positive and flexible to do what needs to be done. I really am grateful to everyone’s dedication and commitment. I look forward to working with you all in coming years as better times are on their way.
The way we provide our services has changed dramatically in the last 2 years. Some of this change is going to be permanent and some of it perhaps a little more temporary, but we realize that we need to change our approach to be a meaningful service provider to all our stakeholders.
We are still very much on that journey, as we are challenged by a number of factors. To list a few….the time it takes to assist our clients with COVID entry procedures before service provision, lengthened times in providing services due to COVID restrictions, hot property markets with limited availability and rising rental prices (Singapore and Korea especially), rising costs of doing business due to COVID factors and/or growing inflation, the difficulty in the transfer of vaccination records between countries that effects the activities of our assignees and the constant changes in entry procedures by country or region / changes in local COVID policy (public health or other) / changes or delays in immigration procedures.
Couple this with the need to be much smarter with how we use technology both in service provision and our back-end administration, one can only feel that 2022 is going to be a very busy year!! If nothing else, we do enjoy a challenge, as we look for the best approach to continue to assist all our clients across Asia!
In closing, thank you to all our clients and partners for your ongoing support in 2021. We very much look forward to working with you all in 2022!
H&R Group / Relo Japan
Relo Network Asia