Cultural orientation, which is a big factor to be considered in outsourcing, is often disregarded by many companies when hiring virtual staff. They concentrate more on the cost-cutting aspect of the system. Although this, undoubtedly, is still biggest reason for them to outsource, this benefit can be negated by their wrong choice of staff to hire.
Companies in the western countries may opt to outsource to countries nearer their location hoping to minimize expenses due to the geographical proximity of their source. Although this may be true sometimes, it is also true that many of workers nearby share similar standard of living as the outsourcing company. Therefore, they demand higher fees or at least the same rates as their local counterparts. This defeats the purpose of outsourcing to save on labor cost.
Another factor worth considering when you outsource is the ethnicity of assistants to hire. Often times, cultural differences among workers trigger unnecessary clashes and animosities. These may adversely affect productivity and may eventual cause the collapse of the entire organization due to misunderstanding and lack of coordination among its workers.
“East is east and west is west, and they are worlds apart” may be true but with some effort by both parties, it is not really that difficult to bridge the gap between them.
Asia is still a better place to outsource but consider these cultural differences between East and West when you hire from this part of the world:
1. In expressing opinions, people from western countries are more direct in their reply. People from the east such as the Asians, regard such attitude as too blunt, insensitive, and offensive. When a western manager, for instance, asks for the opinion of an eastern colleague, he may get annoyed for the evasive and long-winded reply he gets. He considers this a waste of time whereas for his eastern worker, this is his way of not disagreeing immediately that may hurt the feelings of the one asking for his opinion.
2. In anger management, westerners do not effort much to hide their angers. They are fast to raise their voices in annoyance although they quickly calm down after an outburst. Easterners, on the other hand, appear calmer and can hold their temper longer just to maintain peace. Asians especially, are usually non-confrontational in volatile situations. However, they can be more dangerous when they eventually reach their boiling points.
3. Just as easterners are generally patient, they are not that “cool” when it comes to discipline. Queuing for anything is almost alien to them. They lack the patience to fall neatly in-line so pandemonium often result that can easily turn into chaos. Westerners look as this attitude with disdain and consider it “uncivilized”.4. Punctuality is another area where westerners and easterners are often poles apart. “On time” means “on-the-dot” for westerners; Easterners often take this as “more or less that time”. To make matters worse and usually drives westerners to the wall is the nonchalant attitude of easterners to brush off their tardiness as “an act of the gods (Inshallah, as the mid-easterners put it)”.
5. The weather, too, affects people in different ways. Whereas westerners’ moods are easily affected by bad or gloomy weathers such as rainy days, easterners are able to keep their sunny disposition regardless of the prevailing weather condition.
6. In general, westerners appear more aloof and proud in a crowd whereas their eastern counterparts seem friendlier and smile easily. At work, these attitudes can easily be misconstrued by both parties that can ruin relationships.
7. People from the west seem more at ease when dealing with office hierarchy since they treat everyone is as their equal. Easterners, however, look up to their bosses as superiors and should be accorded the respect their positions hold in the organization. Westerners look at this as subservience while easterners consider this a show of respect.
Being aware of these cultural differences when outsourcing is a big help in avoiding unnecessary problems, especially work-related ones, which will help you benefit most from the process of hiring virtual assistants.