flexible global relocation

Why Flexibility is the New Norm for Global Relocation Strategies

Technology, changing economic landscapes, and the motivations that drive a younger generation are making flexibility the new norm for global mobility specialists crafting packages and strategies that will lure in the next batch of promising talent. The traditional expatriate arrangement, which has an executive staying for years in one location in return for a fixed rate and the usual perks, may soon be disappearing. It will give way to a shorter relocation period and a less luxurious reward scheme, but offer appealing incentives in the form of more flexible hours and an output-based structure with the possibility to earn more.

A report by The Guardian forecasts that Internet devices and the boundary-breaking evolving form of communications will make the virtual workplace a necessity rather than a quirky exception. Assignees will be able to work in their relocated apartments instead of reporting daily to the office. Since performance is no longer contingent on working in a particular physical environment, rewards and compensation packages may depend on impact and quality of the work done, instead of the hours recorded.

In another report by Sirva, assignees who miss their families who are still based in their home countries may ask for a more flexible work arrangement. They can take a reduced salary in return for frequent trips several times a year to their loved ones.

Millennial assignees who thrive on change and a different environment may ask for intra-regional assignments. They agree to a lower compensation package in return for a limited time in a certain location. The payoff lies in that they can get reassigned to another city or country after a short period. For example, he might take an assignment in Northern California for six months with a reduced rate. After the six months are up, he is assigned to New York City for another six months. This arrangement starkly contrasts with the traditional assignee arrangement which would have relocated him to work and live in California for an entire year.

Another flexible arrangement will “localize” the assignee. Instead of being classified as an expatriate, he will be accorded the status of a local executive in that particular country. While his package may be less compared to the expatriate industry standard, he can avail of the privileges that are only granted to the citizens of that country. In regions that value diversity like Northern California, California Corporate Housing helps the global mobility specialist make the transition for his assignee.

The overall impact of flexibility in the global mobility landscape will take time before it can be truly measured and appreciated. At the rate that technology and cross-border employment are evolving, generations may be caught under its influence. Take the case of Robert Cormier, group director of strategic development for The Paramount Transportation Systems. He and his family had relocated because of work several times, in places as diverse as Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong before settling down in North Carolina.

While Mr. Cormier’s experiences as an expatriate executive will always draw in a crowd, this time it’s the stories of his 13-year-old son Max who is keeping his relocated colleagues and bosses enthralled. In several conferences, the teenager tells an honest but positive tale of how to adjust and take full advantage of living in a foreign country. He eventually plans to write a book about his escapades and network with other children who move from one place to another because of their parents’ employment arrangements.

Max maintains that understanding and immersing himself in other cultures was a fun learning experience. He enjoins his counterparts and kindred spirits to do the same.

Max and others like him might be the forerunners of a new brand of assignees years from now. Global mobility specialists can take a page from his book, learn from his lessons, see relocation through his eyes — and craft a new foundation for their next strategy.