Monday, June 30, 2008

Good morning from the front row!

So far the communication between Chinese office workers is different than that in American offices. In the morning the workers do not chat about their lives or work they just get down to business. Since I sit in the front of the office I often don’t notice when they sneak in, when I look behind me I am sometimes surprised to see that they have all arrived!

On the phone the communication is very fast; I can’t understand what they are saying but I can tell that immediately after the “hello” they are off an running with their question and hardly stop to take a breath it seems, no “So how are you today?” to start things off!

Our office is arranged in a typical Asian layout. By that I mean that the important people sit in the back and the new comers are in the front. My desk is in the front row! The managers here do not get offices or their own cubical; their space is just as big as everyone else’s. As you can see from the picture the dividers are very low so you can see what others are doing.

Even though we can see all of our co-workers the Chinese don’t just shout across the room if they have a question. Everyone in the office has MSN messenger so they are constantly typing away to their friends asking questions about work and non-work related things. I was surprised to see people sitting about 5 feet from each other sending messages on the computer. If it were me I would just turn my head and ask them directly! I have heard from my co-workers that instant messaging is not allowed in other companies. Instant messaging may be used primarily by logistics companies.

I also think that the guidelines that the workers follow are a lot more open to interpretation. I have not seen a manager or worker layout what they wanted and the steps to achieve that goal. They just give a general idea and sometimes the end result is unclear! My manager asked me to do a task for her but I had to ask her many questions before I felt like I knew what she was asking me to do.

1 comment:

Teo said...

Hello Eric,

I saw the phrase 'My manager asked me to do a task for her but I had to ask her many questions before I felt like I knew what she was asking me to do.'
I think this is common for all enterprises from all over the world:)
The degree of incertitude depends of the size of company, and the culture. Corporation are more structured, more beaurocratic, small companies are more flexibles, sometimes a employee makes many functions and he doesn't need paper work.
From the cultural point of view, I think that the chinese language is not precise as the european languages.
For example: european languages have the verb tenses, that can specify when a action was made while in chinese you don't have this.
So the english of a chinese person is influenced by the gramatical structure of the chines and sometimes their english is not so straight forward for us.
I think is better to ask writen specifications, in this way you will avoid conflicts.