With my Australian born company, I got the best of both worlds. Half of the office is ex-pats and the other half are all native Chinese; this has allowed me to experience both cultures simultaneously and understand how they interact with one another.
Although there are some drawbacks, including the ambiguity of instructions seemingly adopted by all my Australian supervisors, go figure, I definitely prefer this weird melding of cultures to anything else I have experienced. The long lunches, flexible arrival and departure times, the optional napping, and the vague answers you get when someone means “no” are all strictly Chinese traits picked up by my technology company. On the other hand, because we cater to mostly Western businesses looking for access to the Chinese market, all meetings and emails and PowerPoints are to the point, no nonsense language which I love. I hate the idea of companies wasting clients time, which leads me to my next point: transparency. This is something SmartTrans has remained solidly Australian. Because we are a small office of about a dozen people, everyone knows every step we take and each direction we decide to go with a project; there is no dishonesty or questionable deals because they couldn’t get away with it. I think this stance also has a lot to do with the environment we’re in. The lack of cubicles and open floor plan does much to facilitate the communication of coworkers.
The Chinese work culture here is obviously very different than in the United States, but the Australian culture is mostly aligned with what you would expect. The only glaring difference I’ve found is the slang used. I can now tell you what a “cat’s eye” is and have picked up several phrases such as “no worries” and “cheers”, a personal favorite.
To be honest, I don’t think the culture has changed my approach at all. I came here with an open mind and flexible viewpoint and I think that has worked in my favor throughout the past month and a half. The key to succeeding now in an ever-globalizing world isn’t finding the “best way” to do something, but to realize everyone has different ways to accomplish a goal that are equally valid.