Voices from the Road and Home:

The Personal and Family Side of Short-Term International Assignments and Extended Business Travel (Sponsored by Dwellworks)

In Phase II of this study, we surveyed the at-home spouses of employees on unaccompanied short-term international assignments and extended business travel. We first examined the work context factors (that is, factors that employers have control over) that could potentially affect a family's adjustment or the outcome of the assignment itself. Did families feel adequately supported financially during the assignment? Were there any unanticipated and/or unreimbursed financial costs during the absences? Was feeling well-supported financially related to the family's acceptance of and adjustment to the assignment? Did those who had more input into the length or timing of the assignment or of visits home have better outcome? What support services did families see as most valuable?

Second, we asked about the intra-family context and how it might affect the outcome of the assignment. How was the decision to take the assignment made? Did the couple, or the spouse, feel pressured? Did the family experience any lifestyle advantages to the assignment and if so, were they related to outcome? How did the physical separation affect marital satisfaction? How was the availability of social and emotional support related to the spouses' ratings of the assignment? Some spouses were more worried during the assignment than others -- what difference did that make? How did couples manage getting household and child care tasks done during the absence, and did this change during return visits home?

Finally, we asked participants for their advice to employers and to other couples considering or planning for such assignments.


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2014, The Interchange Institute

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