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Heightened security threats, civil unrest and geopolitical instability to be top disruptors to the mobile workforce in 2020

International SOS has published its 2020 risks forecast and the results from the ‘Business Resilience Trend Watch’, a survey of over 1,300 business travel decision-makers run in partnership with Ipsos MORI.

Top 10 health & security risks: 2020 forecast

International SOS has brought together a group of representative experts of all health, security, and safety fields relevant to the risks of travelling and work abroad to form the Travel Risk Management (TRM) Council. Combining the expertise of the TRM Council and International SOS, the forecast for the Top 10 Health & Security Risks that organizations should be prioritising in 2020 are:

  • Risks borne from geopolitical shifts will be the most important mobility challenge for businesses;
  • Mental health issues will increase in importance;
  • Physical health: organizations will be more proactive in safeguarding physical health;
  • Cyber crime is likely to grow and be an increasing risk to security;
  • Climate change will exacerbate the occurrence of environmental disruptions;
  • Infectious disease outbreaks from established and newly emerging pathogens will increase due to multiple factors, including climate change, increasing urbanisation, diminishing vaccination coverage and security instability;
  • 'Bleisure' travel: the debate about whether an employer is responsible to cover bleisure (where business travellers incorporate an aspect of leisure into their work trips) as part of employee Duty of Care will amplify;
  • Millennials and Generation Z entering the workplace with different preferences, expectations and attitudes to risk, will continue to challenge businesses to evolve their risk strategies;
  • High profile Duty of Care legal cases will increase;
  • Start-ups and SMEs that are under-resourced and inexperienced will struggle to meet Duty of Care obligations.

Business Resilience Trends Watch survey findings

Results from the ‘Business Resilience Trends Watch’ reveal the top reasons business travel managers expect to change itineraries in 2020, as 51 percent believe that health and security risks increased in the past year and 47 percent anticipate risks will rise in the coming year:

The top areas of increasing threat are:

  • Security threats (68 percent) – up 23pp on the past year;
  • Civil unrest (52 percent) – up 14pp on the past year;
  • Geopolitical unrest (52 percent) – up 20pp on the past year;
  • Natural disasters (51 percent) – up 15pp on the past year.

Along with these top disruptors, organizations are predicting major increases in the likelihood of having to modify traveller itineraries due to:

  • Epidemics (31 percent) - predicted to be up 19pp compared with actual impact in 2018;
  • Infectious diseases (35 percent) – predicted to be up 17pp compared with actual impact in 2018;
  • Detention and kidnapping (29 percent) - predicted to be up 17pp compared with actual impact in 2018.

Find out more in a series of webinars.



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