Industry April 2011

Security Is Key to a Smooth Move

Relocating an employee to a foreign country is an information-intensive activity. Personal information about the employee, their firm, family and budget is collected and sent to relocation firms, realtors and their contractors. In the past, this data was mailed or faxed overseas and filed in a physical set of drawers under the employee’s name. But now, this information is sent digitally and stored the same way.

This presents relocation providers and realtors with a new responsibility. Not only paper files need to be kept under lock and key. We need to ensure employees and their firms that we maintain digital information security. However, with this responsibility, we also enjoy new opportunities to improve quality of service by providing localised and highly customised information packages online.

Most relocation providers and realtors currently use email to send and receive employee data. Such emails should be encrypted to protect the employee and their firm but, even with such security, is the little corner realtor or destination service provider likely to have the same ability? Do you know how secure your provider is when it comes to your employee’s information?

We provide our clients with a secure login to upload private data using encrypted data interchange between the user’s browser and our security-certified server to remove fear that it will be intercepted by a third party. These documents can be viewed by our consultants through our backend, which is securely maintained and has password entry. Company policy requires that everyone change their password every three months.

Our system features additional safeguards, such as a session timeout to ensure that, if the employee logs in to their page on a public terminal, say, at the airport, the page will become unusable after 15 minutes. While a login may still be a hurdle for some employees, it is light years simpler than trying to ensure that we both have email encryption, and our security becomes immediately visible to our clients (even if you can’t see our office).

As long as our clients need to log in to provide us with their information, we decided that we would turn the picture around and create a place that encourages them to log in. What better place is there to provide your employees with information on Japan, the city to which they are relocating, the housing options available to them, and the specific information that they want to know about their areas of interest?

Our client’s account pages provide layers of customisation starting at the country level, which provides broad information about living in Japan. The second layer gives more detailed information about the city to which the transferee is headed, while the third layer focuses exclusively on their neighbourhood and includes information such as garbage collection points and schedules, medical resources, and area maps.

While data protection efforts can often counter flexibility and be expensive, if you approach the appropriate security in a positive light, there are many benefits and efficiencies that can be achieved. Through secure login sites, we can now provide our clients with digitalised formats of what they used to receive in hard copy. The employee can access them at any time through their login, and we save in not needing to print, sort and staple those packages, or resend them when they are lost. The employee no longer needs to lug around the big package of information we used to provide, and now in the car on the home finding tour, we simply provide the employee with an iPad. They log in to find their home-finding tour uploaded, with every other resource at their fingertips, not to mention all of the Japan apps to enhance their understanding of what the country can best provide.

The digital age of real estate and relocation presents many new responsibilities and challenges to the provider, but it also offers new opportunities to improve the services and the efficiency of your team. There is no going back to the old filing cabinet system, and providers that can embrace the change will prosper.