Difference between working with Asian vs Western companies


Unfortunately being yelled at by an employer or employee is a possibility in Asian workplaces. Shouting matches are counter-productive because it only adds fuel to the fire instead of unearthing solutions. Emotional maturity is still in its infancy within the Asian work culture with mindfulness seminars slowly gaining momentum.


While “ass kissing” is not a common practice with either party, some amount of it can be found in both western and Asian companies. Some managers enjoy having their employees constantly trying to impress them, regardless of the managers’ background and education level. Regrettably it is a personality trait. That said, western employers may not be as apparent with this need in comparison to their Asian counterparts.


As far as internship is concerned, the goal of both Asian and Western companies is to groom interns so they may flourish in their future careers, regardless of whether or not it is with the host company. Nevertheless, some companies employ interns simply to take advantage of their respective government’s tax benefits. While others take the entire process very seriously and train the intern in every skill that is related to their field of expertise. In general, this can happen with any company, unnecessarily related to where it is located in the world.


The contrast between the relationship of Asian colleagues and western colleagues is undeniable. Employees in certain western countries tend to keep the professional relationship purely professional. The relationship ends at the office and there is no such thing as dinner invites to the homes of colleagues and more often than not, a life long friendship with your co-workers is not forged. You might be expected to attend coffee breaks in the pantry so you may socialize but it tends to end there. That said of course, this is a cultural thing and does not occur in every western company.


More often than not, your allowance or benefits are based on your pay grade. In Asia, you may receive meal cards, food allowances, petrol allowances, so on and so forth. In Belgium where I am, most (if not all) companies provide meal cards to all employees. And these meal cards are not restricted to meals eaten during work hours but also to be used for groceries. On top of that, there is also the thing with eco vouchers.


Hierarchy is very important within Malaysian work environments. I will not generalize by saying this is an Asian custom but Malaysians have a practice of giving respect to those who are in a higher position. Similar to the knighthood in UK, Malaysia has the “Datukship” that is very important within Malaysian work environments.


It is not uncommon to see job postings in Malaysia which state that the company is specifically searching for an individual who can speak a certain language. Some people regard this as discrimination and despite constant complaints, it is still rampant.


Asians are generally seen as hardworking individuals due to the fact that competing to be the best and stand out has been drilled into us from a young age. But the dark side of this is an unhealthy work-life balance.


You may find employees in certain western countries do not have the same competitive nature most Asians do. It might surprise Asians to see their western counterparts lacking ambition even. These countries have fantastic welfare benefits and therefore do not encourage such strong competition in life and in work.

Freelance Technical SEO Consultant. Previously @Zapier @Monster. Internet ninja. Food lover. Certified introvert. Music advocate. World Traveler.

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Asad Zulfahri

Asad Zulfahri

Freelance Technical SEO Consultant. Previously @Zapier @Monster. Internet ninja. Food lover. Certified introvert. Music advocate. World Traveler.

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