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#SydneyStabbing: Companies should help employees choose housing

Last updated on: March 16, 2015 18:49 IST
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We had asked you, dear readers to tell us what you think about the #SydneyStabbing incident.

Here, reader Sidharth Narayanan who has spent 15 years in the IT industry, shares insights from his personal experiences.

When abroad Indian professionals have to fend for themselvesEvery year thousands of young IT professionals from India travel abroad on what's come to be called 'onsite' assignments.

These assignments are much sought after by professionals for many reasons.

Live abroad, earn more, save more, experience new cultures and cuisines, travel and see the world, etc.

As a young professional over a decade back, I made my first such 'onsite' trip to Germany and the six months gave me my first glimpse of Europe, to which I returned many times later.

The savings from that assignment got me my first car plus a little extra in the bank that paid for my management education later.

Yes, these opportunities change the life of a professional in many ways. Unfortunately for Prabha, it ended hers and the dreams of a young family.

There are many aspects to the IT professional's onsite mission.

In most cases, the person is left to fend for himself/herself with respect to finding accommodation, local travel options, food options etc.

A pre-travel briefing with some generic dos and don'ts is done at some of the bigger companies.

After that it is assumed that your allowances and higher salary will take care of you.

Typically help is sought from other colleagues who have travelled to the city earlier or colleagues staying in the city on other projects with the same client, on finding accommodation and familiarisation with the city.

In most cases, the professional also has to report on duty at the client site the day after arrival and get a maximum of one week of hotel stay. After that, you are on your own.

The aspect of saving as much money as you can during such trips is always a consideration for every professional, especially those going for the first time or those early career professionals for whom the savings would be considerable.

This does lead to wrong choices in terms of localities picked up for accommodation.

Rent is typically the biggest outflow when living in a developed country and professionals do end up renting apartments in shady neighbourhoods to save on rent.

Taxis cost a lot more than they do in India and so, if your locality is not connected by public transport, you walk.

That walk could take you through a deserted park, a shady alley or a unpleasant neighbourhood.

Indian professionals put themselves at risk without realising the security deficiencies of the neighbourhoods they choose.

Both the individual and the organisation sending the person onsite has to take on the responsibility for the security of the Indian professionals.

Travellers need to be well educated through more detailed pre-travel briefings on the dos and don'ts of the city they are going to.

Companies need to ensure that employees get help in choosing the right neighbourhoods to rent apartments in, choose the right modes of transport when working late and know the right cultural practices of where they live.

Apart from this, it is also very important that the individual knows what to do at a time of crisis.

While most people know that they can dial 911 in the US, the emergency numbers for the police, ambulance etc become handy when going to cities other than the US.

My heart goes out for Prabha and her family.

Thousands of Indians go on such assignments each year, leaving their families back in India.

I hope the murderer will be arrested and justice served soon enough.

Lead image used for representational purposes only

Photograph: Savita Kirloskar/Reuters


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