Real estate professionals report that relocation assistance firms have been using the Internet heavily for some time now for the administration of relocation-related matters, but that they’re just beginning to see significant Internet usage by corporate HR departments.
"It’s interesting that we’ve just started to see a noticeable increase in e-mail communications and Internet research by company HR people during the last several months," notes Donna Koring, relocation assistant for Emge-Citizens Realty in Evansville, Indiana. "Until very recently, only a few people used anything but the telephone to get in touch with us."
Koring adds that more individuals are using the Internet to contact and receive information from the real estate office—and that many of them are choosing to keep their inquiries anonymous.
"Until they’re comfortable giving us a name, or until these individuals find out they have actually been hired and are moving into our area, some of them choose to remain anonymous," says Koring.
Although the dramatic increase in the use of the Internet mirrors the astonishing growth rate of communications technology, it appears many people have only recently discovered that the speed and convenience of the Internet can be in an important tool in getting a task done.
"We often receive messages from transferees or HR people that are sent at 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening," says Marian Thomas, Emge-Citizens relocation director. "E-mail is such a time saver, and it’s available any time. People can continue to communicate and do business long after office hours, when there’s no one at the other end of the line to take your phone call."
The greatest number of survey respondents reflecting the increase of Internet use said they use sites for e-mail communications with relocating employees (27.3 percent). That correspondence includes pre- and post-move communications.
Almost 22 percent reported they use the Internet to research relocation-related matters such as real estate, trailing spouse assistance, and cost-of-living information. Slightly more than 4 percent of respondents to the Atlas survey said they use the Internet for other types of relocation matters, such as an informational site that’s available to a wide group of users.
ITEQ Integrated Technologies Inc., based in Silver Spring, Maryland, provides relocation services for private and government enterprises that are moving an entire company or facility.
"We use the Internet like a bulletin board to keep everybody who’s moving up to date on the status of the relocation," says Patricia DeAloia, ITEQ’s president and CEO. "That might mean we’re communicating with 2,000 people at once. The site updates the status of the move and gives people information they’ll need to get acclimated to the new work environment and the new city."
She continues: "Keeping employees informed on the details helps eliminate the unknown and makes people more comfortable. That’s important when a company is moving so many individuals at once—and the Internet is a great mass-communicator."
Workforce, February 2000, Vol. 79, No. 2, pp. 86-87.