3 Ways to Support the Professional Future of Relocating Spouses

In a recent opinion piece, Katharina von Knobloch, an Expat Partner Coach supporting women in transition around the world, shared her insights on the career dilemma that many relocating spouses face and how the digital nomad approach can help.

She states: "Several surveys indicate that approximately 20% of expat partners are able to either take their job with them or find a new appropriate position abroad. The rest are focusing on family matters or struggling with aspects such as work permits, social norms, acknowledgment of certification, or simply the bigger barrier of a foreign job market and the absence of a support network.

What is the digital nomad approach exactly and how can it help relocating spouses? Katharina describes it as a “portable career”, which groups global mobility, family planning, and career ambitions all under one umbrella. According to increased media coverage, digital nomads have coined this phrase by taking flexible working to the next level, she explains.

Based on her specific career planning research among digital nomads, she found that digital nomads not only created a unique form of remote work but also brought along a very interesting mindset. According to her, digital nomads can be seen to be paving the way for expat partners by pushing the limits of work and promoting a lifestyle of independence. "While the background of the person and work permit restrictions might mean it is not possible to simply copy this approach, it can provide a source of inspiration to relocating spouses. It does not only offer an alternative approach to a well-known problem, but also advocates for a solution-oriented mindset that can help international companies to create better relocation packages."

3 Ways in which Employers Can Better Support the Professional Lives of Relocating Spouses

  1. Globally operating companies should start to rethink their career support for expat partners focusing on how to empower the partner to start a location-independent career. In that sense, employers are not only supporting the spouse but can build long-term loyalty to the company by increasing the flexibility to move abroad again.

  2. Employers should ask themselves what kind of skillset they can foster to equip the partner with digital nomad know-how. For example, are there local networks of digital nomads and creatives they can access to connect the partner with an empowering community? While a portable career can add freedom and flexibility, it can be socially isolating. Hence, connecting the relocating spouse with local networks will become more important than ever.

  3. Companies establish long-lasting career plans with their employees even for the time after returning from a foreign assignment. Why not do the same for the partner by focusing less on a specific language skill and job support for a limited amount of time, and more on investing in online courses that help the partner to change their career path for good?

Read Katharina von Knobloch's complete In My Opinion and get all her insights on the career dilemma that many relocating spouses face, as well as how the digital nomad approach can help.