- September 10, 2014
How to Do Web Development For Different Cultures
At Cofa Media, we are an International Web Development company. We have offices in San Diego, Amsterdam and Belgrade. Our team spans two time zones, three countries, four cities and we collectively speak six languages. We have embraced the different cultures we work with and in fact, believe that is our biggest asset. It sets us apart from other companies, because we have a tremendous library of perspective to choose from. It also widens the types of clients we can serve and has made us better communicators.
Our “culture first” approach celebrates diversity and influences how we work. When working with different companies and especially different cultures, we often take the time to get to know the people we will be interacting with on a daily basis. We ask questions like, How do you like to communicate? How does your team measure progress? More specifically, what are things that you have liked and didn’t like about teams you’ve worked with in the past? These questions sound great to ask any organization you will work with, but they are absolutely essential when working with international companies.
Do Your Cultural Research
Cofa Media has many different cultures within the company and so we are more sensitive when we work with companies in other countries. We know that American culture is very happy and appeasing. Confident and optimistic, in the sense that they can sometimes give themselves challenging deadlines, but may overpromise. (Disclosure: the author of this article is American ). We’ve also learned that just like there are differences between North and South, East and West in the United States, the same applies to different parts of every country.
Serbian’s are very creative, extremely disciplined and very proud. Trust is very important in their culture. It’s not something they give away easily and one has to earn it. Knowing the meaning of words in different cultures also helps. For example, in Serbian the word “Disappointed” carries a lot more weight than it does in America and infers “final” or “end” of a relationship.
We’ve found that Europeans in general are much more direct and succinct in their communication. This brief interaction can be interpreted in some cultures as being “terse” or “arrogant.” This is simply not true. In fact, we have found Europeans to be wonderful to work with.
When we work with companies from India we are engaged by their level of detail. We have found they are very literal. When commuicating with India developers, if you say you are going to do “this” than you better do “this” and not that. India management likes to see progress and loves deadline dates. These are important to them.
Research the companies you are working with ahead of time. Learn how they like to work, how they like to communicate, what are their priorities and what they don’t like.
How to Improve Cultural Communication
Working across time zones can be challenging. Communication by email and text can be misinterpreted so easily, so we try to communicate as much as possible by voice and video. The nuances in voice and video can be interpreted so much easier than in text. We actually really believe in meeting in person as much as possible. Ironically, in this day and age of digital communication, meeting in person seems like a novelty, but we find great value in it and so do our clients.
We’ve found that nothing beats examples. If you like something send us a link. Experiencing an issue, send us a screenshot. Like a color, send us a picture. Examples are very important in International communication. It limits mistakes and cuts down on back and forth explanations. Images are an International language that is easy to understand.
Every day we feel so incredibly privileged to be able to work with people and cultures from all over the world. It’s easy to get caught up in tasks, deadlines and doing great work, but we are very mindful that we are here to make our clients better.
Working with International companies, you are constantly evaluating meaning. We check ourselves constantly. Did we understand correctly? Did they understand us correctly? It’s extremely important to us that not only do our clients understand what we are doing for them, but they appreciate it and find value in it.
We are still learning and it’s an adventure every day. We are an International Web Development company that is dedicated to making our clients successful and we do that by listening, over communicating and then doing it again.