The Switch Blog

Gain valuable insights about how temporary housing works, including the most popular locations and what the future holds for the industry.

By Switchplace • November 22, 2017

Navigating the Soft Costs of Temporary Housing

While there are several steps involved in arranging temporary housing for guests before they arrive, the most challenging aspects of temp housing involve managing the “soft” costs while guests are on their remote stay. Guests deserve to have a seamless experience from the time they arrive to the moment they leave months later.

Needless to say, guests should love where they stay!

Whether they’re staying for a special project, consulting, an internship or other reasons, the cable going out, internet service going down and other maintenance issues should be the last thing on a guest’s mind. If a temp housing agency or other organization isn’t involved in managing those issues as they come up, travel directors end up fending for themselves to resolve issues for guests — and that’s not a happy time.

Employees Are Too Valuable to Distract With Housing Issues

Generally, employees asked to work remotely are paid at a premium, especially because they’re pretty darn good at what they do and extended remote stays could be a staple of the industry or a specific profession. There’s a reason they’re trusted with a special project or trusted to work remotely for an extended period. The last thing a company wants is those precious hours to go to waste waiting for the “cable guy” to arrive or an internet provider to show up to fix a minor problem with the modem.

This is not only an awful experience for the guest, it’s also a terrible reflection on the company.

Still, it’s not uncommon — if the right precautions aren’t made in advance — for employees to stray from work because of a housing obligation. On top of the travel and housing expenses already paid by the company for the guest to be there, they’re now not getting any value for the employee’s time. A/C, internet service and appliance quality can’t be ignored if they’re broken, but it shouldn’t be on the guest to do all of the heavy lifting.

Most travel directors, for the sake of an employee’s time and their own reputation, will go out of their way to make the necessary phone calls and maintenance requests to solve problems. Unfortunately, this ends up being a massive time sink that detracts from other responsibilities. Between requesting service, confirming the service was completed, and issuing payment, that’s potentially hours of time spent for just one guest!

For travel and HR managers, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Outside Help

It’s no coincidence temporary housing agencies have full-time staff dedicated to utility and “soft cost” management. In the course of guests living remotely for months, unforeseen issues inevitably arise. What separates a great temporary housing experience from a poor one is the level of contingency in place.

At the same time, companies rarely have the staff available or the time to dedicate full-time resources to managing these issues as they arise. Unfortunately, if housing issues become a reoccurring issue for guests, the blame goes to the travel director who arranged for the housing if it was done within the company independently. Any manager in this situation is set up for failure, which is why seeking outside help is often the wisest choice for any temp housing arrangement.

If you’re working with a temporary housing partner, learn more about how they manage guests and help them resolve issues. If they have a team with the software and a set process for resolving issues, you’re in the clear. Instead of calling different utility companies and fretting over arranging maintenance requests, guests can simply contact the temporary housing agency to fix problems as they occur. Not only will the temporary housing agency offer direct assistance, they can also help guests with troubleshooting.

Remember that you’re not alone, and help is there if you need it.

International Temporary Housing Makes Problems More Complex

If you’re booking temporary housing internationally, utilities and maintenance requests can be drastically different than what you’re used to in the United States. Everything from billing monthly payments to requesting a fix for a unit can be hard to navigate if guests are not residents of the host country. This can cause even more headaches for a guest if they’re left to figure it out on their own.

By getting some outside help, or outside consultation at the very least, you’ll be better prepared to respond if an employee working internationally needs your help.

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