Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Work Culture


Across the world there are almost 200 countries, each one of these has its own individual features, characteristics, rituals, and traditions. These form the culture(s) of a country. The culture of a society affects everything from how people eat, work, play, and how they interact with each other and newcomers.

As a newcomer to countries, I find it fascinating to see how different cultures accept and welcome visitors. In Malawi, when you are greeted, you shake both hands with your right hand, and with your left you hold your right wrist to show respect. In Uganda, people will stop what they are doing as soon as you arrive and come see you. When you are offered something (i.e. a drink) it can be deeply insulting to say no. In France, a warm welcome would be to receive a bisou or bisous (kisses).

There are rules around these greetings and traditions that can be difficult to understand and follow for someone who is not accustomed to them. There are many similarities between cultures. Many dictate that each guest be treated with the up most respect and generosity and that their needs be met no matter what the cost. In Kenya, if a visitor were to come one evening asking for somewhere to stay, a member of the household would give up their bed and their meal for the guest.

When we move to a new and foreign place, we become aliens. The definition of which is 'a resident born in or belonging to another country'. As an 'alien' in a foreign country, that is the last thing many of us want to be. As humans, we like to fit in and be accepted, therefore it is up to the country we are visiting to welcome us into their culture and to be hospitable. As one of three interns at MeetingMatrix this summer, I have experienced some of the American culture including the American way of greeting and welcoming newcomers; and so far it has been fantastic.

MeetingMatrix has done everything for us; the only thing we had to do ourselves was step onto the plane! From the moment we were on the plane, everything was organised (transport, accommodation, meals...). For some of you reading this, you may be thinking, 'well, that's just standard, that's what I would expect of them.' If that's the case, then MeetingMatrix is the company for you because they didn't just stop there. Since our arrival, we have been sailing, gone out for dinner with the staff, given company jackets, and allowed to use the company car for a road trip. All of that was done in just over a week. Week two, here we come!

As a company, MeetingMatrix promotes a very relaxed work ethic. Staff are free to come and go as they like. They choose to work at home or at the office. As we sit and work in our 'office' which we've taken over for the next few weeks, we often have associates coming in for a chat, to introduce themselves, to see how we're finding things, or what we got up to the previous evening.

This atmosphere that is created in the company is incredible. Its one where people are motivated to work by being somewhere they want to be, not have to be. This causes a great amount of respect for management and those running the company.

Whether they know it or not, the staff at MeetingMatrix are deeply engaged in the culture of their workplace and their position as hosts. This is vital to the 'aliens' they are receiving. Their hospitality has been so sincere, that in just a couple of weeks, we don't really feel very alien at all.

Laurie Frank
MeetingMatrix Intern