What questions do you need to answer today?

When you start your workday, do you know exactly what you’ll be facing? Or do you begin with a to-do list that flexes and shifts based on immediate needs that arise?

For most of us in this industry, it’s the latter. Our responsibilities tend toward core deliverables that expand to include the tasks, follow-up, processes, and communications that ultimately get the job done right.

That’s why having great tools is a must. Every device you use, every platform you employ, every process you undertake, and every service you subscribe to has to advance work that’s been entrusted to you – be it relocations or another role.

We’ve been asking questions in the global mobility space for more than 35 years. More importantly, we consider the questions you might be asked, and find the answers before you need them. Whether it’s walking someone through a first-time relocation abroad, or helping a remote worker schedule a meeting across four time zones, we’ve done the research, developed the content and curated the links that are going to move your work forward and support everyone’s goal to ensure a more successful global experience.

So if someone comes to your team wanting to know how to take their dog to Iceland, someone else is looking for housing market info in Australia, and another person asks about mobile wallet options in Vietnam… we’ve got you covered.

Corporate employees also rely on our cultural content to inform and guide them through the local business practices and social customs.

Thoughtfully organized content leads users logically through their relocation journey. Intuitive layout and language get you to target topics easily. Special features like our Search function help you find a topic, in one destination or across all. Use our Create my Report feature to easily isolate and share specific pieces of content. Our Help Desk puts you in direct contact with our Content Team, which serves as a resource for further questions you may have.

In this complex, changeable relocation world, count on us to help you answer the questions you’re facing today.

Curious?  Request a trial demo here or click the button below!

 

Written by Ellen Harris, Product Manager, Content Group

What to Expect When Returning Home

A lot goes into planning for an assignment abroad. Most people are aware of potential culture shock, research possible pitfalls, and are eager to gather information about their new home.

Often, the other side of the coin – repatriation – comes up with much less fanfare. When an assignee is returning to their home country, how could there be problems? It’s their home, after all.

Surprisingly, reverse culture shock can hit as hard as the initial surprise of living in a new country, and it may have even greater impact because often people don’t prepare for it. You may feel out of step with old friends and their latest accomplishments. You yourself may have changed during your time overseas and feel frustrated that others don’t seem to appreciate your new outlook. Moving back to your native country may even have you seeing your previous home abroad with rose-colored glasses, and your native country measures up unfavorably.

I dealt with all these things when moving back from Japan. I missed the food, my friends, the wonderful public transportation. I missed the international community of Tokyo. In some cases, I even missed knowing what was going on:  popular U.S. apps like Venmo and hit T.V. shows that weren’t licensed overseas weren’t a part of my life. But gradually I adjusted. Being unable to see friends was balanced by being able to see family. I found Asian grocers so I could cook the food I couldn’t find. I don’t think I’ll ever get over not having good public transport, but it’s something to look forward to when I go back to visit.

Another thing that’s helped is getting involved in local intercultural events. You may wish to volunteer teaching ESL or your second language if you’ve become fluent, reach out to international friendship societies, or offer to show local scouting groups souvenirs and pictures from your time abroad. As a global citizen who has experienced not just visiting but living in a different culture, you can bring a valuable perspective and help others find a place in our international world. Giving back is one of the best ways to turn the negatives of reverse culture shock into a positive for both you and your community.

If you’re preparing for repatriation, or just want some ideas for when the time comes, Living Abroad has you covered with “Cultural Adjustment” resources, one of many valuable sections in the International Relocation Center.

 

Curious?  Request a trial demo here!

Written by Kate Havas, Content Manager

The Morphing of DE&I

The Evolving State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Over the past two years it seems that every company is focusing on ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) standards, which include Inclusion and Diversity. There’s a new emphasis for inclusion to be meaningful, authentic, and measurable.  Since the pandemic, the options we have for work vary greatly for each organization.  The hybrid worker is now the norm, not the exception, as we move away from the traditional work model, and this is adding more complexity – especially for inclusion.

This creates an interesting dilemma.  Companies must look for ways to lead inclusively. Certain groups including parents, people with health issues, and people with disabilities are more likely to choose remote work options. Some would argue that supporting remote workers is a way to support the diversity of experience.

In an inclusive hybrid work environment, employees are offered stretch opportunities and promoted in the same way as a site-based employee. Inclusive teams also find ways to include these remote employees in unplanned meetings. Various technology is available and effective for supporting all staff – remote, hybrid, or on-site. These allows managers to lead in an inclusive way.

Social justice issues are even more in the forefront thanks to mainstream news, and more companies will be expected to make statements on their stance. Prospective talent will continue to look for organizations with strong employer brands that focus on ethics and make a positive impact on society. Companies must reevaluate their core values, and then align them with ESG standards.

As many companies continue to claim themselves as both green and inclusive, accountability is often required. ESG management software is readily available, and companies can now share their ESG goals and ratings, which is quantifiable. Organizations can use this technology to accurately report and benchmark ESG results.

Other future trends include:

– Diversity hiring at the leadership level.

– DE&I execution focusing on managers who run programs that look out for bias on a daily basis.

– More continuous discussion programs instead of the “one and done” approach.

– Employee resource groups will take on a higher level of relevance.

– Organizations need to recruit candidates differently by examining the process for bias and setting interview targets, not hiring targets.

DE&I was initially designed to increased business results, but the benefits have shifted to the employee, their sense of belonging, and how they can best be supported. DE&I initiatives need to be purposeful and people-first. Today, more companies are comfortable stating that ethics alone is the driver and the “right thing to do,” when discussing their DE&I initiatives. Others are including DE&I in their core values.

Living Abroad’s Culture Coach Online service is a great first step for DE&I programs. In conjunction with Go Culture, a new Learning Track on Diversity & Inclusion is now part of the online training program. If you’d like to take a spin, please let us know!

A Year in Reflection

‘Twas the week before New Year and all through the world
dreams of progress and hope for ’23 were unfurled.

While the past few years brought us news that was sober,
This year we gathered at ERC in October!

Our resilience, creativity, and optimism kept us hopin’…
With good reason: with time, most countries’ borders would open.

Such signs of recovery our stresses did ease; a
chance to work anywhere with a Digital Nomad Visa!

Nearly 50 countries now offer this perk.
How lovely to choose your location for work.

Just check with tax experts; on them place your reliance
to be sure that your company stays in compliance.

Having flexed and innovated as much as we’re able,
we’ve earned Global Mobility a seat at the table.

A good thing, since issues arise without relent:
Supply chain, inflation, and the war for talent.

Sustainability, DE&I, remote work –
Now’s not the time for anyone to shirk!

And yet…

Year-end is also a time for reflection.
To assess and step back, invite recollection.

And also to gather, be grateful and give
of ourselves and our talents to those where we live,

As well as to those beyond our home borders.
Of our own blessings, we are the recorders.

For the gifts you have shared, we stand and applaud,
and say Happy New Year from Living Abroad!

 

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Team

How to Ring in the New Year – Japanese Style

When living in Japan, one of my favorite end of year customs was “oosouji,” the “big cleaning” that takes place between mid-December and the New Year’s holiday. Rooted in Shinto concepts of purification and the belief that gods of fortune won’t visit dirty houses, it’s also practical: New Year’s is when the family gathers, and it’s better to welcome them somewhere clean, and to not have to take time from visiting with loved ones for chores. Schools, offices, and homes are cleaned top-to-bottom, and everyone is expected to get involved: students at school, bosses at work, and even children at home pitch in to care for their shared space.

The benefits of this are mental and physical. Many chores like cleaning curtains or gutters live in the back of our mind as vague irritations; we know we should do them, but unlike dishes or laundry, we rarely have to tackle them at a particular moment. An end-of-year cleaning puts the pressure on to get around to everything that’s been ignored, and you can leave the niggling thoughts of what you should be doing in the old year, coming into the new year with a clear mindset.

Tips for making the most of end-of-year cleaning:

  • Make a schedule to divide up larger chores rather than trying to tackle everything on one day or weekend.
  • Take advantage of holiday sales to replace things that are broken and stained.
  • Clean out your closets, and take unnecessary winter items in good condition to local homeless shelters and other charities. Coats and gloves are in demand in many locations.
  • Get creative with what counts as cleaning. Are you someone whose mail bubble has a frighteningly high number of unread messages? Getting to inbox zero is another form of clearing out what you don’t want to take into the new year. Going to be moving abroad in the next year? Get your paperwork sorted now, so all you have left is to look forward to the adventure.

Happy holidays, and happy cleaning!

 

Written by Kate Havas, Content Manager

The Best and the Worst

I’m always curious when I hear a news organization post an article about expats rating the best and the worst places to live and work. After all, we create destination reports for a living. So, I was excited to see that Bloomberg recently posted the top 10 best and worst cities for expats. The study came from InterNations who surveyed almost 12,000 expats living in 181 countries or territories!

Beautiful Valencia in Spain was the top pick with expats rating the quality of life, public transportation, and the opportunity to play recreational sports as the reason for its number one ranking. Close behind was Dubai, which boasts a lot of leisure activities as well as a great place to work. In third was Mexico City, a surprise because it is still highly unsafe. However, it’s very affordable and Mexicans are very welcoming to foreigners.

Here are the top 10 destinations:

  1. Valencia, Spain: Great transit, friendly, affordable, and safe.
  2. Dubai, UAE: Opportunities for career growth, ease of driving, and social life.
  3. Mexico City, Mexico: Friendly, affordable, and lots of dining options.
  4. Lisbon, Portugal: Amazing climate, quality of life, feel welcome.
  5. Madrid, Spain: Great weather, excellent culture and nightlife, easy to assimilate.
  6. Bangkok, Thailand: Fantastic cost of living, affordable housing, and friendly culture.
  7. Basel, Switzerland: Financial opportunities, easy travel options, and quality of life.
  8. Melbourne, Australia: Great work-life balance, friendly, pleasant urban environment.
  9. Abu Dhabi, UAE: Excellent health care, worry-free bureaucracy.
  10. Singapore: Great digital access, satisfying financial status, and career opportunities.

South Africa, with its share of problems, ranks at the bottom of the list based on unaffordability and safety concerns. Frankfurt, Germany also rated at the bottom of the list because of lack of infrastructure supporting digitization, and language concerns. While Paris, France, a beautiful place to visit, is extremely expensive especially for housing, which is why expats rated it so low.

The bottom 10 destinations are:

  1. Rome, Italy: Lack of public transportation, poor healthcare, unstable economy.
  2. Tokyo, Japan: Hard to navigate, expensive, high quality of life.
  3. Vancouver, Canada: High cost of living, lack of affordable housing, and residents not so friendly.
  4. Milan, Italy: No work-life balance and lack of career opportunities.
  5. Hamburg, Germany: Low life satisfaction, language barrier, housing shortage.
  6. Hong Kong, China: Politically unstable, bad air quality, and tough working conditions.
  7. Istanbul, Turkey: Low job satisfaction, poor economy, bad working conditions.
  8. Paris, France: Expensive, residents unfriendly, safety concern.
  9. Frankfurt, Germany: Difficulty settling in, lack of services online, and language barrier.
  10. Johannesburg, South Africa: Bad public transportation, safety and security concerns, low personal career opportunities.

I find these ratings very useful especially if you have employees requesting temporary or short-term assignments.  But – while interesting – remember that these are based on subjective perspectives and people have different experiences. One of the best things employers can do is set expectations about life in the host country. The good news is that Living Abroad covers every single destination listed above.

We support your assignees, their families, and business travelers no matter where they relocate – for better or worse.

 

Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T, President

Year-Round Daylight Saving Time?

How would you like an hour of extra daylight in the afternoon?
Would you be willing to trade an hour of morning light for it?

A tide of support for keeping clocks on Daylight Saving Time (DST) year-round is growing around the world. In 2018, an EU-sponsored survey of 4.6 million respondents revealed that 80% favor leaving clocks on DST year-round. More recently, the U.S. Senate approved a bill in early 2022 that would make DST permanent in this country. While it still requires House of Representatives approval, it seems that a majority of Americans favor the change.

Many people have strong opinions on one side or the other, voicing thoughts on later winter sunsets to school children’s safety on dark mornings, disruptions in sleep and general health effects of changing the clocks twice a year.

But what would this mean for time keeping around the world? People are fairly used to dealing with time zones and differences in DST observances, even within a single country. The U.S. states of Hawaii and Arizona keep Standard Time all year. Electronic calendars and digital apps have made it easier to keep track than in the old days of scheduling manually and confirming by telephone. But syncing shared calendars for recurring events — or across time zones during a period when a DST change might happen in one region and not another – takes extra care.

A few suggestions:

  • Get to know your shared calendar features so that you understand whose time zone will remain fixed for the scheduled event, and who can expect a time shift for part of the year.
  • Keep up with pending legislation in countries, states, and territories where you do business. Confirm any one-time events with all parties to sync your schedules.
  • Refer to apps and sites like Timeanddate, World Time Server, or World Time Buddy to view time zones around the world at a glance, check the time in a specific location, or to choose a meeting time across a visual scale of options and cities.

Note that Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center shows the current capital city time on every country report homepage. Also use our global ‘World Maps and Time Zones’ resources to keep yourself informed and on time, wherever you do business.

Personal aside:
Speaking of time, I heard an interesting NPR interview with Oliver Burkeman, author of “4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” about how to make the most of our limited time on earth. I haven’t read it yet but am picking it up at my library today. If anyone has read it already, drop me a note to let me know what you think!

 

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group