Globalisation has brought the world closer and professionals are now able to get a better idea of foreign cultures, but that still does not eliminate the chances of getting cultural shocks.
From dogs in the office, to dress codes and meetings in a karaoke place, the latest Regus study, which canvassed views of over 40,000 workers worldwide, has identified a wide range of customs that catch business travellers off guard.
To begin with, don’t be surprised to find workplaces in Taiwan without lights after lunch because it is nap time. Bringing pets to work is common in California, so please don’t scream if you see a dog running around the office when you visit the area.
For dress code, workers in Rio de Janeiro like mixing and matching shorts with suits. Professionals in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand may not put on shoes in the office while the Japanese prefer slippers.
In Asia, it is common for businessmen to go for karaoke as after-dinner entertainment but there maybe a chance that business meetings are held there too.
“Although business travel has certainly contributed to broadening people’s horizons and lessening the impact of culture clashes, there are still some elements of business etiquette that can surprise travellers and leave them looking sheepish,” said Natina Wong, country manager of Regus Hong Kong.
“For some cultures, physical contact such as cheek kissing is out of bounds, while in others even a handshake can cause embarrassment. Fortunately the open-mindedness and experience of business people worldwide means that these rarely amount to any serious embarrassment,” Wong added.