Furniture rental: A fully furnished approach to expatriate engagement?

When is a sofa more than just a sofa? When it means relocating families need to move just once, saving stress and the cost of a serviced apartment while household goods are shipped. Karen Counterman of Roomservice by CORT spoke to Ruth Holmes about why furniture rental has never been more relevant.

Relocate magazine summer 2019 issue
This article is taken from the latest issue of Relocate magazine.
– the must read for HR, global managers and relocation professionals.With the focus in global mobility firmly on emotional well-being andengagement, as well as the perennial cost control, the perhaps little-known world of quality furniture rental is in vogue.As the range of assignment types and individualised requirements grow, so too do the permutations of support and services in-house global mobility expertise and self-managed movers need access to – furniture rental among them.

New Solutions for Global Assignments 

While there is evidently a need for all the services you would expect. Serviced apartments, shipping companies, educational specialists, language and cultural service, and of course furniture rental, thorough consideration of all options, can help boost engagement and understanding of the challenges a relocating family will go through.This was one of the many observations to come out of the rich multi-disciplinary thinking and discussion at the Festival of Global People, held in May at the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel.Having heard during the panel discussion how quickly people are being relocated from India to the UK – where the average time from work permit approval to arrival is five days – and how assignees are looking for more support and hand-holding, as well as more generous packages, nimble approaches like this could ease relocation and global assignments for everyone.

Putting Control and Comfort In Assigness' Hands 

Furniture rental is a very agile solution. Established providers such as Roomservice by CORT (a Berkshire Hathaway company) can fit out and furnish an entire home, from more than 300 lines of furniture, homeware, linen, electrical items and even white goods, lighting and kitchen equipment, at short notice and to individual budgets. A full turnkey service, home from home.Customers can also tailor their packages and choose different styles and colourways to meet the ever important budget. At what is often a very unsettling time during pre-departure, such personal involvement could make all the difference in helping relocating families and individuals connect with their new home and feel in control. “Our service has been around for more than 30 years, both in the UK and globally. We have a long heritage and an established reputation,” says Karen Counterman, director of sales and marketing at Roomservice by CORT.“Most people already recognise that furniture rental can be a really cost- effective way for expatriates to furnish a long-term rental home overseas while waiting for shipment and clearance of their household goods. However, assignees who rent furniture for the full duration of their assignment can also shorten their pre-departure period and minimise the stress of moving in a cost-effective way. Best ofall, when the assignment comes to an end, we simply take it all away, hassle free” says Karen Counterman.“Our service is available for terms of 1 to 36 months, which makes furniture rental really flexible, less expensive and disruptive than staying in serviced accommodation or hotels until their own furniture arrives,” she adds.

Is Furniture Rental In Your Relocation and Global Mobility Services RFP? 

One of the great benefits of bringing all the apparently disparate elements of the global mobility and relocation worlds together – from destination service providers (DSPs), relocation management companies (RMCs), serviced apartment operators, intercultural and peer-to-peer support, executive and transition coaches, international schools and education consultants, to academics, in-house global mobility expertise and assignees themselves – is that it builds a strong evidence base so everyone can consider the shared challenges through different lenses.For Karen Counterman, speaking to Relocate Global at the Festival of Global People, one of the challenges is raising the profile of furniture rental. With short-term assignments on the rise – not to mention the rapidly escalating sustainability agenda – renting furniture can make a lot of sense, practically, commercially and ethically.However, within global mobility itself, part of the challenge is getting the service into the relocation and global mobility supply chain. “Many employers’ relocation and global mobility supply chains have yet to move on to keep up with their people’s needs,” says Karen Counterman. “We have many longstanding partnerships with our clients who recommend our service when appropriate. This is always the best way for the corporate client to be given all options and choose the best path for their employees.“Yet, I recently spoke with an in-house global mobility specialist who hadn’t considered furniture rental as an option for RFP before now. Educating corporate mobility personnel is absolutely key for our service,” she explains.

Opening up Conversations around Flexibility and Choice 

Highlighting again the cross-functional approach and how problems in one area can be solved by looking at it from another perspective, Karen Counterman’s involvement in the Festival of Global People’s roundtable discussions about engagement enabled people to see the opportunities.The conversations revealed more fully the challenges relocating families face and, by having this much broader appreciation of the services on offer, how each service provider can be more solutions-focused. “Today’s employees want choices, convenience and the opportunity to customise,” says Karen Counterman. “Corporate mobility programmes also increasingly expect flexibility and choice from their external partners. This is where Roomservice by CORT excels and where we believe we must be included as a consideration for all relocating employees in future.”To learn more visit
Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory ©2019. This article first appeared in the Summer 2019 edition of Relocate magazine, published by Profile Locations, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Profile Locations. Profile Locations accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.