Expats Now Have Option to Work Per Project or Commute

Global Mobility Managers are going to busy as ever as companies looking to capture a bigger slice of the international markets continue hiring and deploying expatriate professionals from all around the world for work in Silicon Valley.

But the amount of time the assignee must spend overseas is changing. Only about a decade ago, according to Talent Management and HR,  the standard assignment for an expatriate was about three to five years, with the promise of renewal.

That’s why so-called traditional expat was able to grow roots in his adopted country (or state), watch their kids grow up in an international setting—and after the assignment is over, return home with a mindset and behavior that is more globalized. If the region that the assignee is based on is as welcoming of foreign nationals as U.S. states like Northern California, then the more encouraged they are to assimilate and adapt.

But the explosion of new industries that need sharp young minds — and fresh blood — changed the landscape. Add to that how technology like the internet and smartphones have made international conferencing and project management across different regions easier and faster. Assignees or the new expatriates are not necessarily sent to the new promised land; sometimes they are commissioned to establish corporate beachheads in so-called hardship locations as their baptism of fire.

While many conglomerates still use the three-to-five-year traditional expatriate model, here are some versions as outlined by Mercer that others are resorting to. Global Mobility Managers, in their recruitment efforts, should also keep these different kinds of assignments in mind as among the slots they have to fill up, if not now then later:

Short-term assignments: Popular among millennials

These last for only six months to a year, and are dependent on fulfilling an equally short-term project. The minute the job is done, the assignee is recalled home, or sent to another location. Short-term assignments cost less than the average expatriate project and have a definite time frame for the assignee to finish his or her deliverables.

While pay may be lower than the traditional expatriates’, health benefits and housing are also provided. Short-term assignments may appeal to younger assignees who want to accumulate a lot of international experience in a short period of time. The younger more mobile workforce also prefers traveling to as many places as possible, instead of settling down in one location.

International commuting:  Home on weekends

The assignment and contract may last as long as two to three years, but the assignee only works in his new region of employment a few days a week. Then he flies or takes the train back home to his home country during the weekends–and still keep his apartment with California Corporate Housing.

As discussed in an earlier blog, this set-up arose because the workload does not necessarily need the assignee in the work location 24/7. It is also possible if the region of employment and the assignee’s home country are near each other, making transportation method very accessible and inexpensive.

The compensation package is also flexible, depending on the frequency of the visits of the assignee to the workplace. And while accommodations are also provided, these may rely on short-term leases and be functional and minimalist in their designs. The international commuter, after all, might see their new digs as a rather upscale place to just sleep in before he goes back to work or his family.