Collaboration as a foreigner


This article is a very personal story, highlighting why I think collaboration and workplace transformation have become the hot topics of discussion.

The world is becoming more and more competitive and everyone is either trading or working with someone, somewhere on the globe. The world needed to bring people closer together and collaboration has become the crucial and central tool for successful partnership between businesses – a tool that allows companies to work together efficiently, regardless of their location. With the help of videoconferencing, companies can also significantly reduce their travel costs and improve communication with others, even when people are on the move. Any device, anywhere, anytime.

I have experience of this first hand. As this article’s title suggests, I am a foreigner in the UK – I am French and have lived in England for six years. I have been in the collaboration industry for five years – not as long as many of my colleagues here at Adoptt, but enough to have experienced the positive effects of collaboration. Collaboration tools have made it so easy for me to work with our French based customers and partners. It doesn’t matter to them that I am based in England as they see no difference – my time is still dedicated to them, whether I am working from home, travelling to the office or to their site.

As companies across the world continue to work together, something that people really need to comprehend is the different cultural behaviours between countries. Collaboration does a brilliant job in opening the borders for everyone to work together and be more efficient. However, cultural behaviour and cultural differences exist and need to be understood.

For example, when I moved to England, I discovered that English people have completely different views on work culture and expectations of quality of services compared to the French. English people have very high standards regarding customer services compared to their French counterparts. That is why some people associate the French as being rude, not because they are rude, but because expectations are completely different. Vice versa, French people are often confused as to why the English seem so over-polite. In the work culture, most of French companies are still very old fashioned, where the hierarchy is strictly followed. There is still that huge gap between the management team and the employees.
After several years of working in England with plenty of British people, I have learnt how they expect me to behave in certain situation or how to work in a certain way.

What I want to highlight is that I love that collaboration brings everyone together and helps us bring the best out of each other; just let’s be open about the differences between cultural behaviour and adapt where we need to.

Collaboration means that I can make it easier for my company to work and partner with French organisations. It also means that our French partners and customers receive the same level of service and behaviour that they would expect from working with a local partner.

So, even if you are fluent in a foreign language, remember that’s just half the story. You need to be aware of cultural differences and accept that there are different ways of doing things in different parts of the world.

Maxime Le Hen

Maxime Le Hen

Responsible for designing, developing and delivering adoption services for the world’s leading real time collaboration technologies in the context of workplace transformation, change management and digital disruption. Expert user of collaboration apps. Technically competent analyst able to communicate and conduct 1-2-1 and group training sessions with people at all levels of seniority. Native French speaker.

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