Home sweet (temporary) home

Best practices for assessing accommodations for relocating employees
By Brad McDonald
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/03/2014

Human resources needs to make several key decisions with relocations, and one of the most important decisions is where the relocating employee will reside. Since this will be the person’s new home, it is important to take the time and necessary steps to accurately assess accommodations.


It’s a decision that impacts the company as well as the employee. Providing accommodations that satisfy her needs enables greater satisfaction and productivity, while making the wrong selection — accommodations located in an undesirable location or with few amenities — can jeopardize the success of the relocation.


By knowing what to evaluate, having realistic expectations and considering variances between accommodations, the likelihood of surprises on move-in day can be reduced and you can set the groundwork for a more successful relocation. Here are some tips:


Get started early. The assessment of temporary housing should begin long before the relocation is initiated so you already have a vetted list at your disposal.


Know your audience. Temporary housing provided for an executive and his family might vary from that of a single, entry-level employee. So consider the various employees who will be covered under the company’s relocation policies and keep in mind what might be appropriate for one employee might not be for another.


Be realistic with budgets. Cost is often the number one factor when assessing accommodations. Housing costs can vary widely based on whether the destination is a primary, secondary or rural location. If a selected location exceeds the housing allocation, it can quickly strain the budget.


Location, location, location. Next to cost, location is one of the most important factors when assessing temporary housing. Look for accommodations that are reasonably accessible from the work facility, accounting for commute time or proximity to mass transit. For example, in Silicon Valley, it can take several hours to commute 20 kilometres. Similarly, in large cities such as New York City, accommodations should ideally be close to the subway or bus.


Consider employee needs. The employee’s housing preferences should also be considered as these might differ from those of the company. For example, not every employee wants to live close to the office. By having a range of options, it will be easier to co-ordinate with an employee regarding her preferences. A variety of lifestyle factors should also be considered, such as whether accommodations are pet-friendly or near restaurants or entertainment options.


Amenities matter. Amenities also play an important role when it comes to employee satisfaction, especially since their relocation might last for several weeks or several months. Does the unit have a kitchen to prepare meals? Does it offer onsite laundry facilities? Is there a business centre and secure parking? Are there onsite recreational activities? Amenities can create conveniences that help make temporary housing feel more like home.


Finding the right school district. For employees relocating with children, living in a particular school district might be the biggest factor when considering the offer. However, this can be one of the toughest housing challenges as certain types of accommodations, such as multi-family housing units, may be unavailable in particular school districts.


Consider all property types. Most often, it is preferred to secure temporary housing with corporate apartments or extended-stay hotels because these typically offer high-quality accommodations with popular amenities. Unfortunately, these accommodations might not always be available, especially when relocating people to secondary or rural locations. Therefore, it is important to consider all property types, including bed and breakfasts, vacation properties and economy hotels.


Challenges

With the multitude of temporary housing accommodations across the globe, it is difficult to accurately assess all the accommodations available. Consider having a temporary housing provider do the legwork for you, and be upfront about your budget, expectations and goals.


Temporary housing providers can also offer expertise and resources in atypical instances, such as working with unconventional temporary housing in rural locations, which often require more communication in order to ensure expectations are met. Unlike temporary housing in larger primary and secondary locations that operate under accepted industry standards to guarantee customer satisfaction, rural areas may require more relationship- building and monitoring.


Just because temporary housing is designed for shorter stays, it does not mean you should make a hasty decision when selecting accommodations. By considering the aforementioned best practices, you can establish a strong network of both vendors and properties and be more prepared to meet the temporary housing needs of your company and its relocating employees.


Properly assessing temporary accommodations can mean the difference between providing employees with a place where they have to live and a home away from home where they want to live.


Brad McDonald is manager of corporate housing for SIRVA, a provider of global mobility services delivering integrated relocation and moving solutions. For more information, visit www.ca.sirva.com.

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