Employee relocation: How to overcome time-zone communication challenges

Domestic employee relocation is relatively straight forward in terms of communication, even in countries that span multiple time-zones, like the USA.

However, international relocation can be a completely different kettle of fish. You might be tempted to think that a relocation from Germany to the UK wouldn't throw up too many communication challenges, but what happens at 6PM when the employee in Germany needs to get hold of the UK-based HR or relocation team? Well, it's 5PM in the UK and the majority of folk are heading home. That query will just have to wait until the following morning, regardless of how important it may be.

Moving outside of Europe can present greater challenges as the "window of opportunity" for communication begins to shrink. Imagine a business based in Sydney, Australia, that is relocating people to it's office in London. At 9AM in London it is 6PM in Sydney. Given the vast difference in time, there are really only a couple, or three hours at a push, where it is acceptable to call between the two locations without it becoming obscenely unsocial.

How is an HR team supposed to manage relocation and communicate effectively with it's relocating employees and relocation provider?

We have recently started working with a business head-quartered in Australia and with an office in London and this is just the issue they have been experiencing. The HR contact ended up working long hours to make sure everything was as it should be. This can be managed in the short-term but is not sustainable or good business practice in the long-term.

How did they solve the problem?

The client was looking for a relocation provider that could work flexibly with them; not working to just the standard 9-5 working hours in either location. Remember that diminished window of opportunity? It doesn't cause a problem for our client as we are always "on". As a result, they have been able to get answers to questions without having to wait until the following day, which is often the norm when communicating inter-continentally.

They were also looking for a relocation management system that provided them with the comfort that their relocations were being handled in a systematic and secure way, with the option to track, communicate and share documents in a live environment. It was important for them to be able to log in whenever they wanted to and send the relocation company messages from within the application. Efficiency was key.

Our system combines task management with a real-time workspace for collaboration, discussion and document sharing for all key stakeholders in the relocation process, giving relocating employees and HR teams a complete view of active relocations at any time. It is also available to download as a smart-phone app, so you can keep tab on your relocations, and your relocation provider, any time and any place, without the need for email.

About Celsium

Celsium is an employee relocation services provider based centrally in the UK. We provide international relocation solutions and domestic and inbound UK relocation services to organisations relocating employees globally.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK