long-distance commute

Should Assignees Endure the Perils of the Long-Distance Commute?

If you think long-distance commutes don’t affect our well-being, think again. Many assignees or VIPs may not realize the heavy toll exacted by long-distance commutes on their minds and bodies but to gauge its impact for a certain time period, think six months or even a year. After all, their salary is way higher than the industry standard, the perks are attractive, and the thought of living and working in a new environment can be initially exciting. Until their lives start to show some wear and tear. 

The commute hours can be tiring, the supposedly enjoyable weekends are dampened by the family’s frustration, and additional (if unanticipated) costs pile up. Inevitably, the assignee becomes unhappy in their job, and their performance is affected.

How would you classify long-distance commutes? It happens when the assignee or employee works in one location while their spouse and/or children remain in another. Said assignee then chooses to visit their family regularly within a time frame that can range from every weekend to every two months. 

Even if the decision to split the family is mutual, it’s not unusual if the assignee’s family does not want to uproot every family member, especially kids who are still studying, to the assigned job or location. What to do? 

If the long-distance commute cannot be avoided, global mobility managers should prepare their assignees for it by doing the following:

Make sure the family gets support — and this goes way beyond a daily teleconference or smartphone live video. As NetExpat puts it, everyone involved has to know what they are getting into. Toss aside those rose-colored glasses. 

The time that the assignee will spend with their family every weekend or every month will never be enough. Spouse and kids will always want more. If this is not addressed, resentment can build up, despite the hefty paycheck. 

It would help to get the family into contact with an expatriate community and their families who can help them deal with the loss. Teachers and school authorities of the children should also be advised of the situation, and discreetly check the young ones for signs of silent anger or depression.

The assignee should take good care of their health.

Scientific American enumerates the effects of long-distance commute: backaches, headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive disorders. Most of them are psychosomatic or caused by unhappiness and stress that the assignee feels because of their disconnection from their loved ones. 

To counter or prepare for this, the global mobility manager can enroll the assignee in a fitness program, or ask them to see a health consultant regularly. The assignee might dismiss the recommendation at first, but those check-ups and gym sessions will pay off in the long run. Top tech companies in Silicon Valley can also be relied on to take care of their assignees’ health and all the perks of working there. 

Google and Facebook have shuttle buses for assignees, for instance. As early as 4 pm, one sees those huge buses picking up employees from its various offices in San Jose. For those who live here, they’re everywhere. Even California Corporate Housing offers respite for the assignees who need temporary housing for them and their loved ones.

Still, look into assignee’s package and what his relocation package entails. These include accommodations, a car plan, and gas. 

But as The Executive Springboard points out, there are surprising expenses that can come with the long-commute. Small things may not matter at first but calculating them over the long-term can result in an amount that can shock both global mobility manager and the assignee. These expenses can range from meals taken during the long commute, lavish gifts to appease the family, maybe even spending for the family’s occasional trip to the assignee’s location of employment. 

Bear in mind that the contract might not cover every contingency. For example, it stipulates that it will pay for the assignee’s airfare back to their family once every month. During the onboarding, the assignee had thought that they would only need monthly trips to their loved ones. 

But once the loneliness sets in, they begin to take weekly trips. Since the contract does not cover those weekly trips, the assignee would have to pay for them out of their own pockets. This additional expense will only add more stress.

Long commutes are not easy nor convenient, but they remain a preferred option for many assignees. It behooves the global mobility manager to prepare for them and make the situation as stress-free and comfortable for the assignee as possible.