I am not an intercultural trainer. I am an experienced destination services provider with a small “i” in intercultural. My experience has allowed me to be both a witness and a participant in different cultures in countries all over the world. After 35 years in the industry, I’ve worked with thousands of assignees and their families, so I’m often called upon to act as an on-demand cultural counselor. All my experience has given me a unique perspective on the industry and has helped shape the direction that Dwellworks is headed.
Why Do Destination Services and Culture Need to Work Together?
When corporate clients need to move talent, it’s possible that they may have a candidate assessment program that helps identify whether the assignee and their family will thrive in their new environment. Most of the time, however, organizations will look at their talent pool, identify who may have the required technical skills and experience, and recommend candidates for assignment based on resume driven criteria.
From there they offer the job, discuss benefits, and create a statement of work that the destination services provider will follow to provide on the ground support and facilitate the introduction process for the assignee and their family.
If the assignee is not authorized for intercultural training, their Destination Services Consultant, colleagues, or locals will likely provide core cultural survival tips and advice once they’ve arrived. However, the assignee doesn’t always have enough time to go through everything, which can make the adjustment process feel drawn out and difficult.
How Dwellworks is Bridging the Gap
At Dwellworks, we recognize that not every assignee is authorized for one or two additional days of cultural training support. At the same time, we believe that all people who are new to a country and its culture benefit from orientation and assistance. That’s why we developed our online intercultural tool, Culture Cloud, to allow assignees to explore the culture they’re going to be living in. Within Culture Cloud we also offer Culture Compass, a tool specifically designed to help assignees recognize the cultural assumptions they lean toward and compare them to over a hundred other country’s cultures.
For those who are being introduced to a new culture, Culture Cloud is a great place to start. If an individual can understand themselves first and then the context of their new cultural environment, it’s easier to adapt and adjust. With Culture Cloud, we’re able to present self-paced overviews that set people up for success so they can thrive while they’re on assignment.
We developed Culture Cloud through the joint expertise of our intercultural trainers and global network of more than 1000 local destination consultants. Culture Cloud is offered in conjunction with our settling-in destination services and provides a real-time, real-life immersion on how life is lived in a destination city and country. Using our expertise and understanding of what assignees want to understand, Culture Cloud can get hyperlocal to life at the level where the assignee will be moving. We help people not only adjust to their new country, but also adjust to how life is lived in cities like San Francisco, Shanghai, Houston, Vancouver, Indianapolis, Dublin, and more. From local customs and traditions to informal and unspoken cultural rules, our program helps assignees understand the nuances to ensure they have a successful assignment.
Why Did We Create Culture Cloud?
Culture Cloud, like many things, was an idea born out of recognized need. A few years ago, our team supported a same-sex couple moving from an urban location in the Northeast US to a small, remote city in Northern Canada. Unfortunately, this couple found the cultural adjustment to their new location to be too great to overcome, and the assignment was cut short. From this experience, we learned that we not only need to prepare people for the physical environment, real estate market, school system, and other local amenities, but we also need to provide them with education on the cultural framework of the country and the community.
Culture is national and local. We’ve seen this situation replay itself again and again. Assignees think that having a broad familiarity with what their new country will have in common with them, like using Business English, having the same work ethic, or respecting religious traditions will help them adjust quickly — but when they arrive, they realize they miss things like the trees from back home.
Even the most sophisticated of us — the frequent travelers, the global assignees — have had the experience of being a little apprehensive toward what it will be like to live and work in a location where we’re starting as an outsider. Our destination and intercultural experts will tell you, “you don’t need to change who you are; you need to know who you are,” to which we add “and where you are.” Combining familiarity, local practice, and cultural agility allows assignees to navigate social situations and conduct business like a local.
We describe our service as “where destination meets culture,” because it’s easily woven into a company’s standard destination services policy and ties in with the services provided by a Destination Services Consultant. As an assignee absorbs the information from Culture Cloud and thinks ahead to their assignment, they’re able to understand the culture behind the daily experience. They’ll see it in things like looking at rental housing, negotiating leases, understanding schools, daily life at the marketplace, with government agencies, local services, and so much more.
When it’s offered early on or during the relocation-to-destination process, “where destination meets culture” demonstrates a company commitment to engagement success that will aid an assignee throughout the transition and adjustment process and provide extra insight and comfort in an unfamiliar place.