Given the jaw-dropping advances made in modern technology over the last few years in areas such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI), it’s important to consider which of these advances can be leveraged to make the moving experience as seamless and efficient as possible — for both employer and employee.
Many new technologies in the employee relocation sphere are effectively personalizing the relocation process, meeting candidates where they are while keeping costs at bay. Let’s take a look at a few:
1. VR Comes to Relocation — Slowly, for Now
While VR has found many applications in employee training and development programs, some organizations are beginning to find ways to incorporate VR tech into relocation as well.
For example, the ubiquitous 360-degree cameras that are highly compatible with VR headsets provide the perfect tool to showcase any property, anywhere, anytime. A panoramic presentation of a new home, office, or city is about as close to the real thing as you can get. Employees introduced to their new locales via VR may be able to form stronger emotional attachments, upping their commitment to relocation.
Some real estate agencies have begun to film their listings for use in VR, as opposed to simply photographing them. However, in our view, this tactic has not yet proven itself worthwhile, in terms of ROI. The upfront costs of filming a single property are significant, while the market demand for such a feature is relatively low.
2. AR Becomes a Staple of the Process
AR, which enhances experiences by combining virtual components with the real world, seems poised for the moment to better serve the relocation industry than VR. In fact, it is already in use helping individuals ease into new locations.
A great example of AR use is in the furniture selection process for new residents. Users can visualize how a sofa might look in a new living room and make purchases through a laptop, smartphone, or tablet app. The ability to personalize new surroundings before arrival can make moving less stressful and more enjoyable.
3. AI Presents Big Opportunities
AI opportunities are progressing at incredible speed, with chatbots being a prime example.
As chatbots evolve from carrying out simple assignments to moving massive amounts of data through a system, they become incredibly useful partners in the relocation process. For example, a chatbot can automatically populate cost of living budgets or gather valuable needs-assessment data through questionnaires — a much easier process than the endless forms and emails of old. Chatbots also give relocating employees peace of mind, as they are available 24/7 to answer questions.
Some European city registrations are already relying on chatbots to remove the burden from human personnel while driving efficiencies and improving the overall user experience for incoming residents. The shift to more chatbots represents the industry’s desire to give the modern worker what they crave: convenience and efficiency through a handheld smart device or computer.
4. Virtual Consultations Are Here
Virtual consultations have become an established technology tool for most relocation management companies today. Move-related tasks that would commonly involve human interaction with an outside party, such as a home goods survey, can now be done virtually. Not only does this virtual process come at a lower cost to the employer, but it also improves the experience for assignees, who can now complete requests on their own time and at their own pace.
It is important to note that AR rulers can now be used through any handheld device to measure household items set for shipping — another advanced technology that makes moving easier than we could have imagined just five years ago.
5. Cost-Friendly Meets Environmentally Friendly
Used effectively, advanced technology can help cut down on relocation-related costs for employers by serving as a substitute to traditional preview trips that would require pricey flights, hotels, and incidental costs. Moreover, these tools can also ease the consultative process for the arriving assignee while cutting down on unnecessary human personnel.
Another benefit to advanced relocation technologies is the potential for environmental savings. As a reference, electronic signatures completed through DocuSign have avoided the felling and processing of almost 15,000 trees while also driving efficiencies and improving visibility of the audit trail.
6. Apps Are Here to Help
We are seeing many entities — including cities themselves — step up their mobile app offerings to help out transplants. A few standouts:
- Praguer is an app from the city of Prague that provides easy access to relevant information for residents, including tips, links, contact details, and an SOS feature for emergency situations.
- AroundMe is globally available and allows users to search for the nearest restaurants, banks, gas stations, hotels, entertainment options, and other valuable resources.
- DuoLingo is a way to learn new languages through gamification.
- TripIt holds all your travel plans in one place. It is a great app for creating itineraries, monitoring flights, and accessing special discounts.
7. The Impact of Tech on Relocation-Industry Workers
As with most widespread disruptions, advanced relocation tech may replace some jobs — but new roles will also be created.
But what will these new roles look like? Thanks to research from Accenture, we have an idea. New jobs created by new technologies are likely to fall into three categories:
- “Trainers” will be required to teach AI systems how to perform.
- “Explainers” will help bridge the gap between technologists and business leaders.
- “Sustainers” will ensure proper functioning of the new technology at all times.
8. The Most Important Trend: Striking a Balance Between Human Touch and Tech
Now more than ever, it is important to ensure that the technology we offer is as customized and personalized as the services offered by real-life human beings. This is the only surefire way to meet every assignee’s needs while keeping budgets in line. In order to stay in complete lockstep with the wants and demands of the modern employee, we must move beyond fear of advanced technology and use our human ingenuity to determine how to leverage new tools to create the best possible relocation experiences.
Patrick Kenning is client intelligence hub director for Crown World Mobility.