Having a Team in the Philippines, the Difference from an American Office

By Ian Fernando

I am settled here in the Philippines, specifically Manila, and I decided to settle here for a while. I have always been a person of movement. I am always moving from one place to another and not staying in that specific location for a long time.

Now, I am in Manila and I am enjoying the lifestyle here. Recently, I setup an office here in the Philippines and figured I would talk about it and the struggles and difference there is from an office in the US. I love the US, I am just here to enjoy the travel/work lifestyle.

As you know, I have grown so much and also have had my downs. Believe me, my office growth is a good reflection of this internet lifestyle. Now I have a new office with several new employees that are local to the area.

Here is a quick scan of the office, 360 view:

It is far smaller than my past offices. There are big differences when opening an office here than when in the US. I am going to list and give a brief explanation of it.

  • Team members in the Philippines don't care for personal space.
    Back in the US, big desks are what your employee wants. They have their desk plus their personal space. They will even have drawers and lockers which is part of their desk. Here I find all they need is a place to sit and do their work. Yes they will bring some personal items from home to make their desk theirs but they don't mind the small space because they know they are their to work. Companies spend money to make their workplace feel very comfortable and provide the vibe to encourage thought and comfortability. I agree it is needed. For some reason, I find they do not care much for it here. I have seen office spaces with 5 people crammed together yet they are able to work and when talking to them they don't mind. In the US their would be a human resource issue.
  • Americans want all the perks in the office.
    With not caring much about personal space. Office perks is really not asked, unless it was brought up. Whereas in the states, it is almost standard to have a fridge, kitchen, water, coffee, etc. I didn't have a water dispenser, fridge, coffee machine, microwave until last week. Each of these items can be bought down the street at a MiniStop or 7Eleven. Even each employee would bring their own cooler to the office. They solved their own problem and didn't ask me if we are going to get one.
  • Majority of employees, need a blueprint.
    One problem, is most employees here are not 'go getters' meaning that they need ME to think for them and THEY just do. So creative employees are hard to find, you pay someone to do overseas while you pay americans to think. Well it works both ways, I find Americans would rather be challenged in work to help themselves grow and to be better, whereas here in the Philippines, they just do the work and that is it. Granted there are Americans that just want to do the work, but they will think about the best way to do the work in a short amount of time and still get paid for 8 hours. Creative.
  • Simple Life, Simple Office
    The office is simple, there are the basic needs: the desk, chair, computer, electricity and AC. That is really it. More recently I did add a fridge, file cabinets, microwave, water dispenser, etc. Prior since May, it was just the bare necessity. Everyone here in the Philippines, lives a simple life. There is no competition to one another because everyone is seeking employment and they will work to the best of their ability to make the business proud.
  • Wanting to work, instead of just working
    To continue about wanting to work, I feel each person that I add to the team is eager to work and expand themselves, not like a typical american employee. I felt some employees we had just do the work and that is it and even try to cheat the time clock (creative). From my current team now, I feel they enjoy the project they are on. They like the challenge and I also think that they are happy they have a job that can provide for their families.

I am not saying their is anything wrong with the job force in America, but with the protest for higher wages and not self progressing is absurd to me. I feel overseas, even when I outsource the quality of work is better. Yes I have had a great team in the US prior - but it had its headaches. I may re-encouter that here when I also grow but for now, it has been much easier to coop with the team I have now as their are much less restrictions than that of the US.

Ian Fernando
Involved in the internet space since 2002 and have been through the ups and downs of this online industry. I am a traveling digital nomad, media buyer, online strategist, and many more online titles.

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