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Commuter assignments less disruptive than long-term assignments, says KPMG expert


More employees than ever are being expected to live out of suitcases, working abroad in the week and then returning home on weekends, a report by KPMG suggests.

This is increasingly replacing the more traditional business model, where employees were sent to another country for up to three years and expected to build a new life there.

The trend is set to increase, with 75% of chief executives surveyed expecting to send more staff abroad in the next five years.

Marc Burrows, partner and head of international executive services at KPMG, told HR magazine this new way of working may benefit employees.

"If you can travel home at the weekend to see your family this tends to be lees disruptive than uprooting your whole life to another country. Technology like FaceTime also helps as if you have children you can talk to them during the week too," he said.

This view is supported by the research. Only 15% of young professionals starting work see relocating overseas as good for their career. Fears about job stability back home may be a factor in this.

"If you're on an assignment for three years you might come back and find there is no longer a job on your return. People with clearer career goals tend to fare better in terms of employee wellbeing," Burrows said.

For some companies, commuter assignments are only now becoming the norm. However, in some industries this has been happening for some time. Employers who are only now adapting to this model can learn from them, Burrows said.

"At some consumer products companies, such as Nestle, this has been the norm for around a decade," he explained. "A lot of the staff in these companies have seen extensive travel as part of their role for a while now. They do some interesting things, clever things, to ensure these staff feel looked after."