Want to know what it’s really like relocating for work?
Toby Roger, lead product marketing manager, Culture Amp. Image: Culture Amp

Want to know what it’s really like relocating for work?

19 Feb 20181.44k Views

Relocating for work can be both exciting and daunting in equal measure. Want to know what it’s really like? Ask someone who has done it before. Toby Roger has done it twice.

Sometimes, successful employees can be offered the chance to relocate for work within their company. Alternatively, you could come across the opportunity of a lifetime in a completely new company abroad.

But relocating for work can feel a lot more daunting than simply moving job. There are a lot of components to think about, from the city you’re moving to and the cost of living there, to how you can maintain your relationships at home.

Toby Roger is originally from a rural village in England. He first relocated from Zendesk’s London office to its headquarters in San Francisco.

He then relocated for a second time to the other side of the world. Roger moved to Australia to work for employee analytics start-up Culture Amp. He spoke to Siliconrepublic.com about his experience of relocating and shared his advice for those thinking of making the move.

Where are you from?

I’m from a tiny village in rural Kent, England, called Brookland. My family are raspberry farmers so I grew up in a very different environment to the one I find myself in today. It’s a sleepy village where sheep outnumber people and the only amenity is a local pub.

How long ago did you relocate and what prompted your decision?

My career started with Zendesk in 2012 when the team was around 200 people globally. In 2015, I relocated from the London office to the company’s headquarters in San Francisco. The biggest draw was to learn from and to be closer to my peers in the product marketing team.

Additionally, the lifestyle of northern California was a big draw and the opportunity to experience something new. After five years at Zendesk, and with the company being 2,000 people strong, I made the decision to relocate again from San Francisco to Melbourne, Australia, to join a rapidly growing start-up called Culture Amp.

I was drawn to the chance to enjoy a better quality of life, to work in a more diversified city and to join a company at an earlier stage to maximise my impact.

Describe your role in Culture Amp.

My day-to-day focus is on what we call buyer and sales enablement, which ultimately involves a bunch of initiatives to help our buyers to buy and to help our sales team to sell.

Examples of these initiatives include defining how we pitch our platform, creating assets that help inform our buyers, conducting competitive research, and measuring the success of sales in terms of their win rates, how long it takes to close deals and the time taken to ramp up new salespeople.

I can also leverage my years in the Zendesk product marketing team to offer guidance on our product launches, and other strategic functions of the team.

What do you like most about your job?

I’m really motivated by Culture Amp’s mission to help companies around the globe learn faster through their employee feedback. We have all experienced working in a toxic environment and often, it can be boiled down to a lack of candid feedback between fellow employees and management.

Unfortunately, a poor working environment takes a significant toll on our personal lives. When I can help a company like Culture Amp to further their mission, I feel empowered to know there’s a chance we’re making people’s working lives – and, hopefully, their personal lives – better.

What were the biggest challenges of relocating?

The biggest challenge is the impact the relocation has on your personal relationships. However, you can mitigate this by making a concerted effort to regularly stay in touch with friends and family back home.

When relocating with your partner, for the relocation to be successful, you both have to be successful. Often, a relocation occurs because one of you has secured a new job. That involves a lot of uprooting for your partner, and it is actually more stressful for them as a result of the numerous unknowns.

Whatever you can do to help your partner succeed – be it introducing them to your colleagues’ network in the new location, or simply being emotional support when things are not working out as expected – will pay dividends.

The physical relocation process isn’t that hard. Granted, it’s a lot of menial tasks, which suck up time and initially seem daunting. I personally find packing a nightmare. However, it’s a good opportunity to figure out what really matters to you and for you to prioritise what’s worth keeping in your life.

What are the major differences between San Francisco and Melbourne?

There’s a greater mix of people in Melbourne than in San Francisco, whether that’s people working in different industries, from different backgrounds or past experiences.

It’s nice to meet people who do something entirely different to you. I think that is also a contributing factor to why I find the quality of life to be better in Melbourne than in San Francisco.

How do your working life and other supports help to make you feel at home there?

I work with a great team in Melbourne. The office is such a positive environment that it only seems natural to bring your whole self to work.

Teammates have welcomed me with open arms, allowing me to meet new people and make friends with ease, in and outside of the workplace.

Additionally, my partner has been a great support. There’s always someone you can speak with who knows exactly what you’re going through.

What do you like most about your adopted home?

Melbourne has a relaxed, healthy vibe. Work is not the only thing going on in people’s lives and people make the time to stay fit and mentally balanced. I also like the crazy weather. It can go from 40C to 18C in a few hours.

What advice would you give to others who are planning to relocate for work?

It obviously depends on your personal situation but, if it’s feasible, I say you should jump at the opportunity. Nothing compares to having the experience of working in a new country and adapting to your new surroundings.

When evaluating your offer of employment in a new location, I have found it helpful to look for local salary benchmarks for the role and to speak with any contacts you have in the location to validate how it compares to the market rate.

Additionally, I would also research the cost-of-living indexes and do a simplistic yearly budget based on expected costs in my new location to see how my take-home pay would change as a result of the relocation.

Part of the offer to relocate should include a relocation package. The more you can get from your sponsoring company, the fewer headaches and financial costs for yourself.

In a relocation package, I would aim for full coverage of visa costs (ideally for yourself and your partner), return flights to your new location, tax preparation services for at least your first year in the new location, a relocation allowance to cover shipping costs or packing services, and assistance with finding a new home upon your arrival. I would expect this package to multiply if relocating with children.

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