Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Three quirky workplace customs that every expat should know

Like with cultural practices, workplace customs vary from country to country so if you want to settle in smoothly, it’s important to do your research.  Here are three workplace customs that vary country to country.  

Image Source: Creative Commons/ Flazingo Photos

In the UK and US especially, time is considered an extremely valuable resource; waste someone’s time by arriving late and you will be considered rude and unreliable. If you miss an appointment with somebody it is also unlikely that you will get another shot.  Business deals are made with rapidity in high pressure environments.  In the Middle East however, business moves at a slower pace.  It may take weeks for business deals to be made, with careful deliberation taking precedence.  Furthermore, it is commonplace that people will arrive up to an hour late for meetings, so carry a book to keep yourself entertained.

Image Source: Creative Commons/Google Images

Anyone who has worked in an office in the UK will know that tea making is a frequent and important part of the day. The British tea etiquette – ensuring you offer everyone sat near you (within reasonable distance) a hot beverage as well – is very important to people.  Making a cup for yourself alone is often viewed as inconsiderate and even unfriendly. 
Unlike in the UK, when people may be glad for you to turn down a tea, in Asia and the Middle East the refusal of refreshments from your host is perceived as an act of disrespect, and an insult to their hospitality. 

Image Source: Creative Commons/ Ewan Roberts

Business Cards
In the UK and US, a business card is perhaps is merely a token used to pass on contact details, which we tend to shove in our back pocket.  However, this would not be a wise move when sealing a deal in Asia.  Particularly in China and Japan, a business card is taken very seriously, and viewed as a depiction of the individual in question.  Rather than tossing it aside, the business card should be received with both hands and reviewed with obvious interest. 

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