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How Employee Relocation has Changed over the Years

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Compared to other industries like agriculture, manufacturing, or hospitality, corporate relocation is still quite new. In the past few decades as the need for relocation services was realized, the industry grew rapidly.

A Historical Perspective 

Moving a group of people a far distance to accomplish a specific task has been a common occurrence throughout history. Consider years of nomadic peoples who traveled to follow food sources, exploration missions as nations battled for new territory, or assignments to gather particular resources. For years, pioneers have been crossing great distances and interacting with new cultures in an attempt to facilitate business. It seems that humans have been relocating for "work" for centuries, but relocation as we know it really began in the 1950s. 

The Mid-Twentieth Century

After the end of the second World War, businesses were seeking ways to expand beyond the borders of their own countries. The war had fostered new partnerships between cultures and the world was now exposed to this sense of interconnectivity. Large corporations began sending their best employees abroad on international assignments. 

In 1964, the organization that would become the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (WERC) was founded. This group "evolved to become the premier trade association for talent management and global mobility knowledge" (worldwideerc.org). 

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Air travel rapidly became more accessible, as did the technology to communicate overseas in a short amount of time. Countries such as China, Japan, and Brazil leapt to the forefront of the global economic stage with nationwide initiatives focused on manufacturing and exporting. 

A New Millennium 

Computer technology improved year after year. Instant messaging features and teleconferencing closed gaps that were previously filled with costly in-person visits. Human Resources professionals began witnessing the benefits of short-term international assignments for employee development in building successful cross-functional teams. 

The importance of settling-in services like Destination Services and Intercultural Training was finally recognized after large blunders resulted in failed deals. The 2000s brought about a new focus on the employees as an individual, as well as ensuring the comfort of any accompanying family members.

Illustration of a computer, phone, and emails being sent around the world

Today and Beyond

Today, some of the most popular countries for international corporate relocations include Switzerland, China, the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, and Canada. In such a fast-moving global economy, the most successful companies are the ones with agile relocation partnerships. Dwellworks is poised to facilitate quick and efficient moves since a suite of services is offered through one interconnected company. 

As with most other industries, the ongoing technological revolution has touched the way corporate relocation operates. Services like cultural training can now be offered anywhere, and any time to fit the busy schedules of relocating employees. Cultural trainers and Destination Services Consultants tailor their services with the help of technology to provide the most targeted, efficient assistance to new residents. 

Image of button do you need cultural trainingAnother trend in the industry that is predicted to continue are lump sum moves. A lump sum move is when a relocating employee is given a certain amount of money to move, but the employee is responsible for spending it how they see fit. This differs from the previous method of companies providing employees with a relocation "package," which covered very specific aspects of the move. Today, ambitious employees compete for opportunities to be sent abroad, always requesting new assistance from relocation professionals. 

As the relocation industry continues to change, Dwellworks is excited to see what new technologies and preferences bring to employees moving around the world. 

Image of an airplane with a city backdrop

If you enjoyed learning about the history of the relocation industry, you may like these other posts about relocation:


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