You are here
The Asia commute gains popularity
11 May 2014
They fly off from Sydney or Melbourne on a Sunday night and return to their families late on Friday or even Saturday morning.
A slowly growing number of IT, accounting, banking, sales and other execs in the $300,000 to $500,000 salary range are opting for an international commute after seeing the number of opportunities available to them at home decline – particularly in financial services. They have hit a ceiling and bounced off their career trajectory.
Demand for their skills in Asia is strong. Executives from Australia have experience operating in a very safe economy that is on the edge of one of the most exciting and rapidly emerging regions in the world. They understand the processes and regulations associated with a mature market, which is increasingly applicable especially in markets like China.
While moving family to Asia no longer adds up financially, the cost of travel has come down making the commuter life an option for execs even where they have to pay for the airfares themselves.
The thinking in Asia is that the most successful organisations and individuals are the ones that treat their environment like a mature market rather than an emerging market.
Talking to my recruitment network in Asia, particularly in financial services, there are those with a very clear strategic plan for tapping into the Australian talent market to fill roles in the $300k to $500k range so I see this trend continuing.
Sounds great except for the fact organisations in Asia have been under pressure to reduce the costs associated with securing expatriate talent. For most people this means the end of the traditional “expat deal” – where the cost of housing and educating an executive’s family are met by the employer.
So while moving the family to Asia no longer adds up financially, the cost of travel has come down making the commuter life an option for execs even where they have to pay for the airfares themselves.
For local talent this means a tough choice: take a lesser role in their home city and experience the frustration that comes with that or maintain their $300k to $500k salary by living away from their families five days a week in China, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta or Singapore.
The expat commute is not being used as a short-term career strategy either, with many executives electing to keep up the long distance relationship with their families until their children finish high school or even university. This means it’s vital that anyone contemplating the commute career strategy spends time working out their work life balance game plan with their spouse and family.
I’ve seen some people take on the long distance option without giving it a lot of thought only to wake up in six months to find it’s having a detrimental impact on their life and what they are trying to achieve.
Before making the move you need to invest in the appropriate resources to help you look beyond salary to all the many issues involved. These include looking at how the long distance commute will impact your value system and physical health. Would-be expats also have to think about how they will maintain a good relationship with their family across time zones and even the best time to take a break given the different vacation seasons in Australia and Asia.
Australians commuting to Asia is a trend that is definitely gaining momentum – and no doubt there are good salaries on offer – however, the better people I am sitting down with have a game plan and are managing that plan taking into account a holistic picture of their life and all key aspects.
The number of execs opting to commute to Asia for work while their family stays in Australia is increasing.
Executives considering this are wise to consider the impact on their families, their health, work-life balance and whether the trade-off for a higher salary and more opportunity in Asia is worth it.