Every nationality has its own culture. And when you’re looking for virtual assistant services, this is something you’ll want to keep in mind.
Ensuring that everyone in the workplace is on the same page is crucial in any business. And when you work with virtual staff from a completely different continent, there are going to be some hiccups.
Filipino employees have their own cultural quirks that influence how they conduct themselves, interact with colleagues and complete their tasks. Understanding these is the first step towards working around them and building a team that gels together.
Here is a brief insight into some of the cultural aspects of Filipino life.
The importance of family and relationship building
In Australia (and much of the West), when we hear the word “family”, we think of the nuclear variety. Parents, kids, maybe a dog or cat…
The Philippines is a completely different story. Filipinos have large extended families – it’s quite normal for a husband and wife to live with their parents from either side. There’s even a chance that siblings and their kids might live under the same roof.
While strange from a Western standpoint, this is a perfectly normal Filipino living arrangement, especially if the house can easily accommodate everyone.
The daily interactions among family members create a hierarchy based on respect. Filipinos are taught to add the word “po” as a sign of recognition. “Opo” is a respectful way of saying yes. Older siblings aren’t addressed by given name, but with “kuya” for males and “ate” for females.
Long story short, they’re more formal than we are when it comes to relationships. And this carries over to the workplace too (more on that below).
Like we mentioned above, Filipinos place a strong emphasis on recognizing hierarchy and status. There’s a deeply-rooted habit in Filipino virtual assistants to use Ma’am or Sir when addressing superiors or clients. Honorifics and titles find their way into even relatively casual conversations from time-to-time.
Of course, this doesn’t mean however that Filipinos prefer a rigid and formal workplace environment. Filipinos like positive, easy-going workplace just like the rest of us. Don’t make the mistake of treating them like automatons or insisting on excessive formality!
This can be a tad off-putting for Aussie business owners – not many of us like being called Ma’am or Sir. I’m no sociologist, but I’ve noticed that no matter how many times I ask my team to just call me by my name, they always defer to Sir Neville.
Just like anybody else in the world, Filipinos prefer work environments where they can interact with their co-workers. Everyone enjoys banter or gossip – it’s just human nature!
Filipinos go a little bit further, however. “Pakikisama” or camaraderie is an important attribute in the Philippines. Essentially, this is the idea that people should be helpful to their family members regardless if they live together or not.
And that bleeds into Filipino working culture too. Filipino virtual assistants tend to go above and beyond to help out their colleagues, sometimes at their own expense (whether it be time or money).
This translates into Filipino’s going beyond the call of duty to get things done. It’s this hard working pool of talent that we tap into when providing virtual staffing services to businesses like yours.
Western language, Eastern reaction (saving face)
Did you know? Around 75% of Filipinos are fluent in English. English education is a constant from from primary school all the way to university – the country’s laws are in English and all commerce and contracts are in English.
This is what makes the Philippines the perfect location for virtual assistant services, if you ask us!
You can chalk this down to its colonization by the United States from 1898 to 1946. Even today, the Philippines is close to the US – American products comprises about 8.9% of its imported goods, including the U.S.A.’s unofficial top export, pop culture.
The result? Not only are Filipinos highly fluent, but they’ve also got a strong grasp of English slang and colloquialisms too!
However, in spite of the heavy Western influence, Filipinos still maintain an Eastern disposition. Case in point: saving face is an important aspect of the culture.
Here’s an example. Its safe to say: “please go through that with me one more time, I am not sure I got it” in Australia. This is seen as a loss of face in Filipino culture. As a result, some virtual assistants won’t ask for help until much too late.
When providing virtual assistant services, we thoroughly vet all applicants and select workers who we believe will thrive in an Australian work culture. Our recruitment process is tailored to match your business – you can be as hands-on (or hands-off) as you want.
Aiming to please, depending on the time
Filipinos tend to say yes when they mean no and vice versa.
Don’t worry, this is not from a place of deceit! Rather, they do this with the intention of appeasing someone, especially those higher up in the workplace.
Generally, Filipinos are people-pleasers – they like to avoid giving an outright rejections or appearing to be in hard disagreement over something. Instead, they tend to opt for gentler phrases such as “maybe”, “let us see”, “probably” and “I’m not sure” instead of a categorical yes or no answer.
This can be challenging to work around initially. Once you know what to look for however, it can be worked around.
This type of caution doesn’t extend to being punctual.
Filipino’s punctuality is well-documented – historical texts as far back as the Spanish colonial period chronicle Filipinos’ propensity for tardiness.
Fortunately, it’s not from a place of laziness. More often than not, traffic is the main culprit. Having visited Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities in the Philippines several times, I can personally attest to that!
“Filipino Time” has become something of a cultural phenomenon as a result. Luckily, you can get around this by employing a work-from-home system for your virtual staff. Talk to your virtual assistant services to see if they can offer this type of arrangement.
By cutting the commute out of day all together, you can avoid Manila traffic altogether. Coupled with the keen willingness and ability of Filipino staff to get work done, makes our work from home staffing solution ideal to help you get your work done.
Need virtual assistant services?
Working around these cultural quirks is one half of the equation. If you want virtual staff that work with your business, you’ll need the right virtual assistant services.
And that’s where we come in.
VirtualStaff365 specialises in connecting Australilan businesses like yours with competent, skilled virtual assistants that fit perfectly into your organisation. We don’t draw from a pool of workers – instead, we hire for your job description, enquring the perfect fit for your business.