Relocation in the Digital Age

People move. Children come of age and leave parental homes to pursue independent lives. In turn, parents often find their housing needs reduced and, as a result, may move. Corporations globally are on a constant quest to recruit the best talent from all over the world. Employees, attracted by career opportunities or compelled by economic circumstances, change companies and countries. Companies send (and/or recall) employees on overseas assignments, as dictated by business needs. Without forgetting, there is an army of diplomats and officials working for national governments and international organizations who are constantly on the move. And, of course, there is a niche segment of ultra high net worth individuals establishing secondary residences in destinations offering safety and stability to their families and assets.

There is an entire industry catering for the needs of people seeking to move, with removal companies packing and shipping your goods from A to B and relocation companies assisting with navigating visa and immigration legislation, finding housing and schooling, and settlement in the new location. Alternatively, one can engage the services of an all-encompassing mobility or relocation management company that would bundle all of the above services in addition to facilitating home sale (particularly in the US), expense management, and tax advice for expatriates. For firms contracting these services, compensation and benefits, and various other HR functions, could be included in the package. Corporations are increasingly using Big Data to profile employees and ascertain the likelihood of a successful assignment in a new country. A multitude of factors come into play: family situation and spouse occupation, schooling preferences for children, dietary and climate restrictions, local branch dynamics and client portfolio profile in the host country, and so on. The list of criteria will inevitably be expanded and refined as more data is collected and analyzed. The complexity of managing a relocation has grown recently in response to the requirements of the corporate world. A seal of quality for a removal or relocation company is membership of FIDI (Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux, or the Federation of International Movers) — an organization that sets professional guidelines, trains staff, and certifies quality and compliance. While important, FIDI membership is no longer sufficient to guarantee success in this industry. Customers demand technology and supply-chain solutions, and regulators focus on data protection. A relocation provider with reputable service can be disqualified from a major tender if its technology platform is deemed not user-friendly or compliant.

At the same time, there is demand from consumers, especially millennials, to develop a one-click Uber-like solution for their relocation needs. This represents a push to simplify, commoditize, and standardize removal and relocation offerings.

Another factor that is redefining the relocation industry, among others, is the Sharing Economy, widely embraced by millennial consumers. Technological advances have made sharing easier and cheaper than owning, representing a deeper mindset shift. Think about car sharing, laundry cafés, and the rental of fully equipped apartments for parties and celebrations. As a result, people own less and relocate with fewer household goods.

The above considerations place significant pressure on small and medium-sized, usually family-owned, companies that cannot afford investment in technology. In contrast, larger firms are in a fierce technological race that sees IT budgets soar and often leads to mergers and acquisitions to consolidate resources. There is also an ever-present anxiety among removal and relocation companies that a non-industry player will master the ‘one-click solution’ space and will do to the relocation industry what Uber did to taxis and Amazon to retail.

Unlike hailing a cab or having a parcel delivered, relocating is a very emotionally engaging experience: we leave behind friends, relatives, aging parents, and the important comfort of a familiar environment. Moving to a new country and encountering a different culture can place immense strain on family relations and cause stress in children.

Failed relocations are expensive for both individuals and employers and could be life- and career-changing for those involved. Even so, a successful relocation to a foreign land could be professionally and personally enriching and may raise the individual or family’s self- awareness. Indeed, this is where relocation companies maintain a considerable edge — by offering human interaction, compassion, and tailored solutions, as well as support and hand-holding to ease integration in the new environment.

 

Unlike hailing a cab or having a parcel delivered, relocating is a very emotionally engaging experience: we leave behind friends, relatives, aging parents, and the important comfort of a familiar environment.

 

Relocation to another country is a complex undertaking and is best left to certified professionals who will handle the task with due consideration and expertise. Technology and consumer patterns of new generations are transforming this industry, like everything else in modern lives. People who still require an individual approach to and special consideration for relocating their families and their valuable household items to another country are best served by established relocation companies who have retained their personal touch while embracing technology.

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