Customs and Cultural Differences across Countries Catch Business Travellers off guard: Survey Says

April 27, 201610:23 am612 views

Business professionals around the world have revealed some of the most surprising and unsettling customs they’ve encountered while travelling abroad. These findings demonstrate that the right local culture is often far from plain sailing.

From heavy drinking or smoking in meetings, to dress codes and acceptable physical conduct, the latest Regus study, which canvassed over 40,000 workers worldwide, has identified a wide range of customs that catch business travellers off guard.

The peculiar workplace customs that unsettle international professionals the most include – working with the lights off after lunch, which can leave people feel perplexed – and perhaps more than a little sleepy! Frequent cheek kissing and not wearing shoes in the office are also a little startling to some respondents.

Key findings include:

  • Crooning away at the karaoke during a business meeting left one respondent speechless
  • Introductions to the whole family as a preamble to business and discussing personal lives are also sometimes a surprise
  • Lateness, bowing and attitudes to sneezing and coughing in the office are also sometimes destabilising
  • Pets in the office and suits with shorts also give rise to some embarrassment

“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. Navigating the complexities of human relations while doing business abroad can become time consuming and complex. Fortunately the open-mindedness and experience of business people worldwide means that these rarely amount to any serious embarrassment.” Wong added.

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