As the pandemic has created a surge in remote workers, companies that offer housing as a benefit could be on the cutting edge. Travelers Haven has specialized in housing for the nomadic workforce for over a decade, so CEO, Carlos Abisambra weighs in on the perks of offering this type of accommodation.
The pandemic-induced digital revolution has made it so that employees are no longer chained to one office space, and they’re taking advantage of their newfound freedom.
By mid-2020 in the U.S., the digital-nomad population — or highly-skilled workers who either do not have physical offices or most frequently are away from their office — jumped to 10.9 million from 7.3 million, according to MBO Partner’s 2020 State of Independence in America report. That hike represented a 50% increase from 2019.
“The world has changed,” says Carlos Abisambra, president and CEO of Travelers Haven, a company that specializes in providing housing on demand to nomadic workers. “Before, [employees] could spend a few days or a few weeks figuring out where they wanted to live. Now we are seeing deals happen within hours.”
In healthcare, there are over 100,000 nomadic specialists, made up of traveling nurses and technicians, according to Abisambra. In the infrastructure industry, nomadic specialists include about 400,000 dry-wallers, carpenters and electricians; when considering industries such as government, military, education and entertainment, the number of nomadic specialists is more than one million.
But that kind of mobility can be a challenge to employees, and increasingly, there’s a call for housing support from employers, Abisambra explains: if companies want to stay competitive, they’ll need to offer their employees a benefit they’ll actually use.
“People have to get creative to retain talent, and talent mobility is at an all-time high,” he says. “One of the things that really got flipped on his head is this concept of work-life balance. Work and life used to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but what people are realizing is that you can have both.”
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The opportunity to capitalize on offering flexible housing as a benefit is there — in the first quarter of 2021, Airbnb reported the amount of long-term stays booked on its platform nearly doubled year-over-year, according to the company’s 2021 Report on Travel and Living. Travelers Haven, which works directly with employees as well as employers who can provide the company’s service as a benefit, is currently coordinating about 7,000 temporary leases a year, all for transient workers. The average lease term, according to the company, is about six months.
“People are thinking about how they can get a good professional setting without having to sacrifice their needs to explore, to spend time with family or do whatever it is that makes that person tick,” Abisambra says. “Benefits that aren’t being utilized aren’t really benefits.”