In the majority of relocation policies, temporary housing is a standard offering. This benefit is typically a 30- or 60-day stay in a furnished, corporate accommodation. It can certainly be longer than that; however, the durations previously mentioned are most common. Ok – end of blog post, right? Not so fast. While considered a routine policy benefit, the impact of locating and sourcing appropriate temporary housing cannot be understated. After all, your employee is going to be living there, potentially with their family, during a stressful time in their life. In addition, temporary housing is routinely among the top 5 spend categories for a relocation program.
For something that your company will be spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on, it seems to be an area that is easily overlooked. So how does temporary housing work?
THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT
The first and most critical step in the temporary housing process is a needs assessment. Relocation management companies are experts in finding, negotiating, and sourcing the best temporary housing for each transferring employee’s needs, but we aren’t mind readers, so asking the right questions is critical to finding suitable properties.
While a 30- or 60-day stint is not a vast amount of time, the first impression in the new location certainly has the potential to make-or-break the relocation. Getting a list of the needs and wants for the employee doesn’t take long, but the impact is massive. Do they have children and want to be in the school district they anticipate buying in? Do they need parks nearby? Do they have pets? Are you absolutely sure they do or do not have pets? Is being close to the office of critical important? Conversely, is being as far away from the office as possible better? Do they like the busy lifestyle a city brings or the serenity of living further away in the suburbs? All these questions and many more need to be explored to make sure the best decision is made.
SOURCING AND SELECTION
From here, the relocation management company will begin sourcing housing. Your relocation management company will send information to the suppliers they feel are best suited for these specific stays. There are typically multiple options that will fit the employee’s needs and wants based on the needs assessment. The properties will then be vetted for requirement accuracy and sent to the transferring employee for final selection. The selection process is frequently quick; however, if more information about any of the properties is needed, the relocation management company will facilitate and gather this information.
Now that the majority of the legwork is done, it is time for the transferee (and their family in many cases) to check-in. While the most routine method has historically been to pick up the keys directly from the property manager, this has certainly shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people prefer to avoid direct contact for health reasons, and lock-boxes have now become a common alternative. The family will be given detailed instructions regarding where and how to access the keys to their new living quarters. The lock-box system is also advantageous if the transferee will be arriving at the temporary housing location after hours.
Your relocation management company will always be there to assist, should there be any confusion. During the stay, the counselor at the relocation management company will stay in close contact with the family while they are searching for their permanent residence. While the stay will be booked for the set period, the majority of properties have an early-out notice to vacate (NTV). Should the family find their permanent residence in the new location early, the NTV will be utilized, which will save your company money if the employee departs earlier than the original lease. Note that on the early departure properties typically will have a 30-day minimum, so if the transferee does check out before the 30-day mark, the cost will be for 30 days. Anything after 30 days will be prorated in conjunction with the actual stay duration.
Upon departure, the family will have to follow the departure instructions laid out by the temporary housing facility. These are routine and include things such as leaving the keys on the counter, turning the thermostat to 68 degrees, and sweeping up any pet hair. There will always be a professional cleaning done after departure, but the expectation is to leave the property in the condition it was in at check-in.
Temporary housing seems to be a simple, innocuous, standard policy element. For this reason, it can many times be overlooked. However, any time you are dealing with the comfort and living arrangements of a family, no detail can be neglected. The importance of a proper and in-depth needs assessment cannot go understated. After all, if the transferee and family are happy, safe, and comfortable, they will be productive at the new location. Our goal is to always insulate the transferee and family for any discomfort so that they can focus solely on the task at hand – their new job in the destination.