Here’s how to make it work better
Taking a short-term work assignment in a different city can be an exciting opportunity: It can give your career a boost, help you meet new (and useful) colleagues in different parts of the country or world, and living in a new city for a few weeks or months can give you a perspective that a short vacation never can.
At the same time, however, any relocation – even if it’s only for a limited time – can be stressful. Here are our tips for how to make it easier so you can get the most out of the experience.
Know exactly what’s involved with the new job
At some companies, a short-term relocation is associated with a specific project or hours; for others, it’s handled more as an ‘employee exchange’, where you and your counterpart are effectively switching jobs for a few weeks or months. Before you go, find out (from HR, your current manager, or from the office you’re going to) exactly what your role will be, and what’s expected during the time you’re there.
Understand what’s being paid for by the company
One of the biggest frustrations for employees involved in a short-term relocation is a lack of clear information about expenses. Is the company paying for your accommodation and food while you’re in the new city? Are there limits? Will they be paying for visits home (or for family members to visit you) during your stay? What about transportation and moving costs? Asking these questions well before you make the move will reduce your stress considerably.
Find accommodations close to the office (if possible)
In a short-term relocation – especially when the company is paying for accommodations and a per diem for food, or where you’ve been sent to work on a specific project – it’s not uncommon to be expected to work a little more than you would at your ‘regular’ job. And it may be difficult to take or rent a car. So finding somewhere to live that’s close to the office can make a big difference – you don’t want to be losing two hours a day on your commute.
Make connections in the new city
Yes, the people in your new office will probably make an effort to take you out to lunch or invite you to after-work social events to help you find your feet in your new temporary home. But in case they don’t (or in case you feel the need to hang out with people not from work) you may also want to look at your Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. An old college roommate, a cousin you haven’t seen in a while, even a former co-worker may be living in the city you’re about to visit. Let them know when you’ll be arriving and invite them for lunch or a drink during your first couple of weeks. It’ll help you feel grounded and connected to your new place.
Think about what you can’t live without – and take it with you
For some people, ‘home’ means having a picture of their spouse by their bed; for others, it means having just the right shampoo or a favourite pair of pyjamas. Figure out the two or three things you need to make you feel comfortable, and then make sure to pack those things first. After all, it may take you a week or two in your new home to find out where to buy that special shampoo. (Of course, we do provide shampoo – and some snacks – when you arrive at one of our suites. And if you don’t have time to grocery shop, we can help with that as well.)
Walk the city
There’s no better way to get to know a new city than to walk it. You’ll see more, you’ll interact with other people, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and find stuff (like that special shampoo!) that just aren’t possible when you’re in a car or in public transit. It’s a good way to start feeling part of your new city.
Take a (small) first-aid kit
You know what it’s like: You’re having a bad day, you come home and start making some dinner, only to cut your finger on the paring knife. Suddenly you feel a little bit more alone. That’s when it’s helpful to have a tube of Polysporin and a bandaid. You can fix up your finger, sit down on the couch – and order pizza. And now it feels a bit more like home.