Of course, any kind of change has potential negative side effects to be aware of too. What these are will depend on your circumstances, but some potential downsides may include:
1. Potential for interrupted career progression
Moving overseas may mean you are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Depending on your company, not being around every day and difference in time zones may mean the good work you are doing is not as visible to centralised management. This isn’t always a difficulty, but it might be something to be aware of depending on your business.
2. Pressure to deliver
As a short-term assignee, you are likely to be under pressure to hit the ground running and achieve a lot in a short period of time. You are unlikely to have the luxury of spending the first few months settling in. There may be pressure on you to make changes quickly before you have had a chance to build relationships or get colleagues at a local level on board.
3. Culture shock
The risk of culture shock is even higher with short-term assignees because you may not have the same time to adjust as your long-term counterparts. Comprehensive pre-departure training is important, so you have as much information as possible about life in your temporary home.
4. Expat loneliness
If you decide leaving family in your home country is the best option then there is a chance you may suffer from expat loneliness while you are away. Building new and maintaining existing relationships while overseas is really important. If you feel lonely , check whether your international health insurance has an expat assistance programme that provides you with access to a trained professional for assistance.
5. Maintaining relationships at home
Your relationships with friends and family at home are important. Leaving may prove difficult but technology makes it easier than ever to stay in touch.
6. Relationship issues
If you decide to take the assignment, your partner may have to remain at home for work or family commitments. This can impact your relationship. While you struggle with a new role in a new country, they are left carrying the emotional load at home and often completing all the tasks you used to help with.
Do not underestimate the challenge of returning home once your assignment is complete. Particularly if you settled well and enjoyed the work. Changes may have happened in your home office that mean:
• You are not returning to the same role you left
• Goals and objectives may have changed since
• You may have to readjust your ways of working once again
Agreeing to an international assignment is a big decision for a range of professional and personal reasons. We hope this will help you to work out what yours are so you can make the right decision for your circumstances.
If you do decide to accept an assignment, don’t forget you will need international health insurance to access private healthcare should you need it while you are away.