Your destination, chapter and verse

A news feed item caught my eye the other day. It was about finding a particular book when you can’t recall the author or title. It made me smile, bringing me back to my college days working in a bookstore, and the occasional, inevitable vague question about a book… “that’s got a pink cover. Do you know it?” Often, after questions for the customer and with my knowledge of our inventory, I could find it.

I got to thinking about how similar this can be to an assignee going abroad. They know they’re looking for something, but they don’t always know how to define it. What should they be researching about the host country? What questions should they be asking? There’s a rough outline in their minds about the blank pages they need to fill, but arriving at concrete information is elusive.

That’s where we come in.

The Content Team at Living Abroad has been immersed in destination information for a collective 37 years. Much has changed during that time, which is all the more reason why assignees and international travelers need to rely on people dedicated to staying abreast of what they need to know.

If Global Mobility resources were a bookstore, you wouldn’t head straight for the Travel section or spend all your time in the Geography/History section. Nor would you find everything you need to know under Business, Education, Cooking, Finance, Language, or Sociology.

Yet the components you need to prepare for living and working successfully in another country touch on each of those areas. The great news is that you get all that, comprehensively covered but concisely written specifically for a business audience, from Living Abroad.

Our thoughtfully curated online content flows through a typical chronological journey, providing overviews, details, links, and tools to guide the assignee or business traveler. But it’s also a custom experience, with users able to pick and choose their topics, revisit any part of the process at any time, and chart their progress with proprietary features like our Move Planner.

So, whether you’re a seasoned traveler who just needs to brush up on a new destination’s immigration regulations, a first-time assignee looking for the right school for your children, or something in between, come to Living Abroad and you’ll find answers to questions you didn’t even know how to ask.

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

Plan ahead to get what you want

It’s no secret that the global pandemic has caused great disruption to manufacturing and logistics — supply chains — throughout the world. Many merchants are urging online shoppers to plan ahead, especially with demand as high as ever. For example, Singles Day — the November 11th holiday which had already become the biggest shopping day in the world — still broke previous years’ sales records in 2020.

Here are five things you can do to make the most of your online shopping experiences:

1.  For your online purchases, use a globally accepted credit card that does not draw funds directly from your bank account. Review all credit card issuer documentation, as well as your invoices when they become available.

2.  When purchasing items via auction or marketplace websites, evaluate seller information and policies before bidding. Know what resources the service provides for buyers, and what recourse is available to you if needed.

3.  If shopping on a website in another country, familiarize yourself with importation laws and restrictions in the country where items will be received. Your purchases may be subject to inspection and tariffs, and the recipient may need to pick them up at the customs agent. Know that in many countries it is against the law to ship items abroad without an enclosed invoice.

4.  Be wary of email requests, even if the sender claims to be representing a legitimate business or service. You may want to contact the service directly to confirm the request, via telephone or on-site chat service, before clicking on any links or responding to it.

5.  Choose merchants who ship using trackable methods. When possible, use a shipping address that allows for indoor, monitored delivery. Some larger online retailers offer the option to pick up items from a local store or locker service.

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager

You’ve got skills

The skills that make us successful in our jobs have changed due to continued remote work.  And remote working – in some form — is not going anyway any time soon.  A KPMG survey found that 80% of U.S. workers would turn down a job opportunity if it did not include flexible working option.  So how can we be successful and thrive?

Here are some skills you need to be a good remote worker:

  1. Teamwork – Most workers continue to be part of a larger team, so even though you are remote, you are not working separately.  Finding a balance between video meetings, phone calls, and emailing is important so overwhelm doesn’t set in.  Shared documents and project management software are a good way to let teams share updates and documentation.
  2. Clear communication – Working remotely means that almost all the communication between a team is through email or messaging apps.  Being able to communicate clearly and succinctly will go a long way in getting your ideas across.  Good communication skills are a foundation for team success.
  3. Time management – Self-motivation and time management often go together. It’s easy to get sidetracked working remotely.  Many productivity coaches suggest carving out a period for intense work followed by a break.  If you’re used to working in an office, you would have been able to chat with co-workers during a break.  Now, plan you breaks in advance so you have something to look forward to.
  4. Focus – Distractions are numerous working from home.  From outside noises of a garbage truck, construction, or lawn mowers to indoor sounds of children, pets, or other adults, the list of distractions is endless.  Learning how to remain focused is a skill to develop.  Setting up a quiet space, devoid of clutter, and some good noise cancelling headphones will go a long way to maintain your focus.
  5. Adapt – Challenges will always come up and how you deal with them will affect the success of your team.  Maybe a big storm will knock a colleague’s internet out right before a big project is due.  Flexibility and creative problem solving will lead to a solution.  If you’re suddenly assigned to a new team, you will need to adapt to their way of working.
  6. Trustworthy – Research has found that employees who are trusted are better at teamwork and more productive.  When working in a team, the most important aspect is to set clear goals and objectives, be transparent, and communicate often. Feedback during the process is very important.

The KMPG survey also found that employees believed that working remotely increased their focus and productivity. As we continue to hone our skills of teamwork, communication, time management, focus, adaptation, and trustworthiness, the future will be filled with much success for employees, their teams, and ultimately our companies.

The skills that make us successful in our jobs have changed due to continued remote work.  And remote working – in some form — is not going anyway any time soon.  A KPMG survey found that 80% of U.S. workers would turn down a job opportunity if it did not include flexible working option.  So how can we be successful and thrive?

Here are some skills you need to be a good remote worker:

  1. Teamwork – Most workers continue to be part of a larger team, so even though you are remote, you are not working separately.  Finding a balance between video meetings, phone calls, and emailing is important so overwhelm doesn’t set in.  Shared documents and project management software are a good way to let teams share updates and documentation.
  2. Clear communication – Working remotely means that almost all the communication between a team is through email or messaging apps.  Being able to communicate clearly and succinctly will go a long way in getting your ideas across.  Good communication skills are a foundation for team success.
  3. Time management – Self-motivation and time management often go together. It’s easy to get sidetracked working remotely.  Many productivity coaches suggest carving out a period for intense work followed by a break.  If you’re used to working in an office, you would have been able to chat with co-workers during a break.  Now, plan you breaks in advance so you have something to look forward to.
  4. Focus – Distractions are numerous working from home.  From outside noises of a garbage truck, construction, or lawn mowers to indoor sounds of children, pets, or other adults, the list of distractions is endless.  Learning how to remain focused is a skill to develop.  Setting up a quiet space, devoid of clutter, and some good noise cancelling headphones will go a long way to maintain your focus.
  5. Adapt – Challenges will always come up and how you deal with them will affect the success of your team.  Maybe a big storm will knock a colleague’s internet out right before a big project is due.  Flexibility and creative problem solving will lead to a solution.  If you’re suddenly assigned to a new team, you will need to adapt to their way of working.
  6. Trustworthy – Research has found that employees who are trusted are better at teamwork and more productive.  When working in a team, the most important aspect is to set clear goals and objectives, be transparent, and communicate often. Feedback during the process is very important.

The KMPG survey also found that employees believed that working remotely increased their focus and productivity. As we continue to hone our skills of teamwork, communication, time management, focus, adaptation, and trustworthiness, the future will be filled with much success for employees, their teams, and ultimately our companies.

Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T, President

 

Prepping for travel? Don’t forget your psyche.

Of all the questions you ask while preparing for travel abroad, how many of them have to do with mental wellness? Probably not many. Chances are the bulk of your focus is on tasks and logistics. Documents, regulations, accommodations, packing, and transportation take up a lot of mental bandwidth.

But just as important is creating space in your new environment for peace and contentment. How do you establish this? One of the best ways to start is to inform yourself about your destination. Knowledge and preparedness have never been so vital for travelers.

As part of your trip preparation, seek out past, present, and future information about your host location:

  • Understand a little about its history and traditional culture to shed light on things you’ll encounter, from interesting architecture to people’s behavior.
  • Identify sources for current news, weather, events, and emergencies so you are plugged in to your surroundings, keeping you safe and engaged.
  • Inform yourself about what to expect and how to get through a business meeting or typical weekend. This can reduce anxiety immeasurably.

We believe that informed people have a better chance of thriving and being successful abroad. Employers can help employees settle into a new locale by providing this information and setting expectations based on company policies and benefits.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, many companies intentionally made a point to check in with employees, specifically to address their mental health. The isolation of working from home, along with health worries, caused emotional stress for many. Now that people are traveling and moving again, we’ve learned a thing or two about paying attention to our psyches and making mental wellness a priority.

Sometimes, solace is found in forming new social or business relationships. Learning the local language can open doors to understanding, deeper communication, and ease of daily life. Finding ways to stay in touch with people at home is key also. Human connection bridges gaps and feeds the psyche.

Other times, you want to stay home on your couch and allow yourself some space. Maybe you’ll look for a grocery store that delivers or crave the comfort of some home-cooked cuisine. Mindfulness practices, meditation, or going for a run are all solitary pursuits that can ease anxiety.

All of these topics are covered in Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center. You’ll also find a wide variety of articles on our blog, many dealing with wellness-related issues. For example – and for a little fun – this one about therapeutic screaming in Iceland.

At whatever volume you care to say how you’re doing, we hope today is a good one for you!

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

Tea, anyone?

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Click here for the answer!

How to become contactless

Contactless payment methods, such as Apple Wallet, Google Pay, and PayPal Tap to Pay, have become much more popular over the last year for public health reasons. But did you know contactless payment methods can also help keep you safe digitally?

In most contactless transactions, the customer’s device emits a short-range signal that sends a code to share encrypted payment information with the merchant’s reader. This code does not include any customer information, and the code changes for every transaction. This makes it more secure than presenting a physical credit card, where swiped information can be stolen and reused.

Think it’s time to make the jump to paying with your smartphone? Here’s what you need to know:

Make sure your device’s operating system is up to date.

This is important not only for functionality, but also for transaction security.

Research contactless payment methods.

Questions to ask yourself: What types of devices do you have? Where do you shop in person most frequently, and what is accepted there? Are there any additional features or services they provide that affect your decision? We’ve provided specific resources below for several of the most popular contactless payment methods in the world, but there are others — and your chosen method should provide a similar level of support and security for its users.

Make sure your contactless payment method is accepted in your country.

Countries with Apple Pay

Countries with Google Pay

Countries with PayPal

Add a contactless payment method to your device or app.

Instructions for Apple Wallet

Instructions for Google Pay

Obtain the PayPal app

Make sure the merchant accepts your payment method.

Emblems for contactless payment methods have joined those of credit cards and ATM networks on store doors, counters, menus and other merchant spaces. If there is a contactless reader present but no emblems, it’s always appropriate to ask if your payment method is accepted.

How to pay:

Instructions for Apple Wallet

Instructions for Google Pay

Instructions for PayPal

Tips and tricks:

  • Practice helps! Consider making your first contactless purchases in low-stress, queue-free environments.  Because they participate in contactless transactions regularly, cashiers and clerks can be very helpful.
  • While pointing the top of your device toward the contactless reader is the most common payment action, you may need to position your device differently for different readers.
  • System outages, broken readers, and devices with depleted batteries can occur. As with all purchases, be prepared with a backup payment method.

By the way, you’ll find much more information about paying for purchases around the world — electronically and otherwise — in Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center.

Why EQ is so important today

Do you feel like the world is in flux? Between the pandemic, social injustice, global human rights, and environmental and climate-related issues, we all have much to consider.  In pre-pandemic offices, seeing a colleague face to face and noting their body language would tell us a lot about how they were feeling.  Working remotely, we all must try a little harder. That’s why Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is even more important than ever. EQ focuses on understanding our emotions and the emotions of those around us and dealing with them in the best way possible.

How can we evolve in this changing work environment to best support our mobile workforce?  The key is employee engagement. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the relocation world.  Those involved in employee relocation experiences must have a high EQ given the challenges of a move. From household goods shipments and real estate transactions to immigration approval and tax compliance issues, all must be handled with a level of sensitivity.

Successful mobility programs utilize these EQ traits:

  • Empathy and active listening
  • Emotional maturity
  • Awareness and inclusion
  • Honesty and humility
  • Anticipation and intuition

With experience and communication, these traits can be learned.

High EQ mobility professionals know it’s important to work with service providers who share the same philosophy.  Some things to consider:

  • Do they communicate new developments, identify challenges, and solve problems in a timely manner?
  • Are they flexible and open to a mobile employee suggestions, requests, concerns, and feedback?
  • Can they express empathy, so mobile employees know that they are emotionally and logistically supported?
  • Will they show compassion in the face of extreme stress during relocation?

By virtue of the job, Global Mobility teams already respond to mobile employees with the empathy and support that is necessary for a successful relocation. Continuing to champion the same EQ traits in dealing with remote and mobile employees will help HR professionals weather the current state of global business, bringing much success to relocation programs in the future.

Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T

Traveling with a Disability

While lots of us were locked in place over the past 18 months, a great many people found themselves changing locations. They took advantage of the freedom to work from anywhere. Or they are now choosing among the many employment opportunities, trying something – or someplace – new.

Deciding to move, or merely travel, involves more implications when you or a family member has a disability. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources. For example:
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ETIAS: Step-by-Step Guide to Traveling with a Disability
European Travel Information and Authorisation System resource for Schengen countries

International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT): Traveling with Accessibility Needs

Mobility International USA: Advancing disability rights

United Nations: Disability Laws by Country

Wheelchair Travel: Resources and Destination-specific

In addition, consult agencies and organizations that provide guidance on pertinent issues for you, including:

– Mobility and transportation accessibility at airports, on trains, city sidewalks, and public spaces.

– Regulations for travel with prescriptions or medical equipment.

– Physicians or treatment facilities on route or at your final location.

– Travel and quarantine requirements for service dogs or emotional support animals.

– Local availability of therapies and trained support professionals.

– Advice/networks to assist in preparing for and meeting the person’s physical or emotional/behavioral needs in transit and at the destination.

Find these resources, and others, in Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center in our ‘Healthy & Safety’ section under Best of the Web.

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