Culture in the Workplace: Eastern vs. Western

There are many differences when it comes to culture in the workplace, not to mention working remotely. When freelancers first begin working with western companies or clients, these differences may come as a surprise. Let’s identify those differences to help ease the transition between east and west.

Eastern companies generally have traditional-style enterprises, which are established through a family business and passed down from generation to generation. Due to the majority of Eastern companies founded by one person, many of the company’s final decisions are based on of the highest person in charge. At times, employees are limited in terms of personal development and their ideas or comments are not as openly welcome. In this case, culture in the workplace environment can hinder employees from expressing their opinions or beliefs.

We’re all individuals.

When it comes to Western-style companies, individualism is encouraged. Managers and employees all have a say and these companies welcome ideas and differences to be shared on all levels. This type of culture in the workplace reflects positively on its employees. If you have an idea or a suggestion, don’t hesitate to bring it to someone’s attention. It may not only benefit the client but also the company itself. This is encouraged in most western companies.

When there is a problem, Western co-workers tend to analyse and assess the situation before making a decision. In Eastern workplace environments, coworkers are more timid and shy. If you have questions along the way or encounter a problem, contact the client and ask for more clarification. This will be extremely beneficial in the long run.

Punctuality is key.

Punctuality is important in the Western workplace. Eastern companies may be a little more relaxed when it comes to starting times and deadlines. Freelancers who are new to working with Western clients must make a note of this. You may come off as careless or impolite if you are not on time to Skype meetings or project deadlines. If you think you may miss a deadline or be late to a meeting, communication is key. Be open and honest with what’s going on. Clients will be more proactive if you are transparent from the very beginning.

With freelancers located all over the world, it helps to understand the culture in the workplace and to be able to adapt. When you do this, not only will you grow and learn in these different environments, but both parties will benefit too!


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