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Hitting a mobility home run

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Crossing the seven seas is no longer a thing of the past, as employees are travelling further for global assignments. Natasha Ganesan goes on a journey to find out how companies are managing their mobility projects.

The iconic shells weighing down the backs of turtles are more than a defence mechanism: they are their homes. But unlike our sea-bound friends, global assignees cannot move from one place to another with their homes attached to their backs – thus, the need for corporate accommodation continues to be on the rise.

According to Strategy Analytics’ “Global Mobile Workforce Forecast”, the global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.88 billion in 2023, accounting for 43.3% of the global workforce. With a future comprising a mobile workforce on the horizon, there continues to be a conversation around accommodation options, and their pros and cons.

As more and more employees cross the seas for global assignments, companies need to scour for suitable corporate accommodation that will be an apt fit for their staff.

In this feature, we speak to two industry experts on their top considerations, followed by some data and research around employee mobility trends.

Oiling the wheels: Wasco Energy Group

Serviced apartments are usually not an option for oil and gas company, Wasco Energy Group, says Vivian Tay, head of group HR. “Being an oil and gas company, some of our work locations can be pretty out of the way, so it is tough to find serviced apartments in these areas,” she explains. Thus, the company turns to rented apartments.

Another important consideration is the surrounding area of the accommodation. “The place has to be sensible in terms of safety. We typically try to avoid unsavoury locations, which the on-ground team is well-placed to advise on,” says Tay.

Narrowing down the options, Wasco Energy scouts apartments rented locally, either through Airbnb or word of mouth from on-ground contacts. “Some considerations when looking for suitable apartments include heating and air conditioning facilities, furnishings, laundry, and basic kitchen appliances,” she adds.

For long-term assignments, i.e. those that exceed beyond six months, renting an apartment is more cost-effective as well as comfortable, for both the company and the assignee.

“At the end of the day, it really comes down to the employee’s welfare and comfort. We make a choice on the basis of their needs and requirements, as well as the on-ground support typically available, and in that framework, we hope to provide them with the best temporary home.”

Keeping it crisp: Kellogg’s

On the other hand, food manufacturing giant Kellogg’s turns to corporate hotels most of the time when it comes to choosing accommodation for its business travellers.

Grace Lin, HR business partner, AP snacks at Kellogg’s, shares that quality is key when coming up with a list of corporate hotels for employees.

There needs to be more frequent updates of the hotel list as some travellers may have come across newer hotels with good deals and service standards exceeding that of corporate hotels. 

“We consider whether the hotels are well-known in the market for providing quality service and bundle services such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast and other necessary services.”

Managing corporate accommodation is a close partnership between the HR and procurement teams, Lin says.

The teams collect valuable feedback from employees on what they expect from corporate hotels and then approach international chains using this feedback as the criteria during the selection process.

“One key learning point is that there needs to be more frequent updates of the hotel list as some travellers may have come across newer hotels with good deals and service standards exceeding that of corporate hotels. Hence, every six months, we get employees’ suggestions on new options.”

When it comes to picking the best accommodation out of two top-notch choices, Kellogg’s leans towards the hotel with which the company has an existing partnership. Having said that, the team doesn’t shy away from boutique hotels either.

“If such hotels can emulate the high standards of international hotel chains, then why not?” Lin says.

Photo / 123RF

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