Temporary Housing: A Home Away From Home

Temporary Housing: A Home Away From Home

Published: Jul 10, 2015

From a relocating employee’s point of view, temporary housing is seen as a home or refuge during a stressful 30-to-60 day transition period. For some Talent and Hiring Managers, it may be viewed as an expensive line item on relocation and assignment cost estimates. However, this benefit can be a critical aspect in a move’s ultimate success.

Remote Locations and Second or Third Tier Cities

One of the biggest challenges facing the global relocation industry is that the demand in some second and third tier international cities still exceeds local market options. More remote Asian, African and South American cities are experiencing a surge of corporate temporary housing needs. The corporate housing industry is diligent about tracking trends in emerging destinations around the world and expanding services with new properties.

“The issue is most buildings have been built in the largest cities of China and other emerging countries and lower tier cities have limited stock. The markets are catching up, but it will take time,” says Gavan James, President & CEO of Nomad Temporary Housing. “We often find larger rooms with kitchen facilities which make an excellent choice.”

As we endeavor to work out the strategy, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the saying “no pain, no gain.” While it may be a bit painful to the budget, the gain in supporting your employees with a safe haven that improves productivity may be well worth the investment.

During this transition period, employees are not only adapting to a new job and learning a new commute, but probably also finishing tasks from their previous job, establishing new lifestyle routines regarding locating necessary shopping, pharmacies, banks, schools, gyms, etc., and trying to find a permanent home so when temporary living runs out and their household goods arrives, they’re ready. A wee bit stressful...

NEI works with global and independent temporary accommodations companies all around the world and has identified several important trends on the topic of securing safe and affordable temporary housing:

One area in North America where the challenge remains is found in the remote “Oil Patch” areas of Canada and North Dakota. For instance, in Watford City, ND, near the epicenter of the Oil Patch, there are projections for needing 7,000 additional housing units to complete drilling projects, but only 2,000 units are currently available.

Yet, despite an expected downturn in drilling in the future, housing and infrastructure projects are progressing rapidly. Issues persist in other areas where residential style hotels and temporary apartments are not yet built, leaving the population to reside in recreational vehicles and work camps comprised of pre-manufactured housing.

Millennials: One Size Does Not Fit All

With a new generation in the mix, what might have been appropriate and suitable for Baby Boomers and Generation X, may not be acceptable for relocating employees who fit into the Millennials or Generation-Y age group. For those in their early 30’s or younger, it’s not business as usual. Typically, they are newer to the corporate workforce, independent, single and relocating (or on assignment) for “the experience”, rather than promotional opportunities.

However, it is hard for this group to give up its connectivity. Amenities and location of permanent and temporary housing during relocation stands out as a unique difference for this group. “Apartments should offer the amenities these younger employees today expect such as free Wi-Fi, high-speed internet options, large work desks and/or high-end fitness centers to appeal to Millennials,” says James of Nomad. Millennials tend to place greater importance on experiences and often wish to be in urban centers close to where one’s office can be biked/walked to or accessed by rapid transit.

Out-of-Network Alternative Housing Options

It is important to note that in addition to our global network of standard providers, NEI also calls on temporary provider options outside our network vetted by NEI or trusted Destination Service Providers on location. At times, these can prove excellent solutions and are sometimes more cost-effective.

Our vetting of all options (and confirmation of price, terms, security, amenities, etc.) can help take stress off employees trying to do so using their own personal connections or the internet.

While it may be possible for an employee to secure a less expensive temporary accommodation or housing option, we recommend clients have a consistent policy in place for its use, including that the accommodations’ providers have the necessary accident or injury insurance in place and, if not, clearly identify that the company and the employee are willing to take such a risk.

A Recruitment Strategy

Matching lifestyle amenities such as free Wi-Fi, easy access to commuter lines, shopping, etc., at the right price is crucial to attracting the right people to your organization.

Commoditization of the industry through the use of “comprehensive booking tools” can affect the consumer by taking out much of the “human element” from counseling discussions. These discussions are important to the relocating employee’s satisfaction and ability to focus on the new job, rather than their temporary living solution.

“Temporary housing plays a very important role in the relocation process…where a company places its greatest asset —its people and their families,” says John E. Brachna, Executive Vice President, Corporate Living. “So while price is obviously important, there is much more to a successful temporary living experience.”

The temporary housing industry has responded to changes with innovative service offerings and new locations. Further options give customers the opportunity to find better short-term housing solutions for a wide variety of needs and across all locations. NEI recommends all options be regularly reviewed to ensure one’s temporary housing strategy is tied into Talent Agility and company business objectives.

“For talent mobility, companies that provide the best housing solution have an edge over competitors in attracting top talent,” says Beth Hotze, Director of Sales, Oakwood Worldwide. “If organizations fail to make the proper investment into their mobility programs, including housing, training, mentoring and assimilation programs, along with a clear plan for career success, then expats may become disenchanted and less productive.”

Success is about creating extra value. NEI and our service partners have a complete understanding of the blended approach of providing Service Exceeding Expectations while keeping a watchful eye on cost containment.

Our goal is to work closely with our service partners to cost effectively help relocating families see temporary housing as their interim home away from home.