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Expatriation: How To Integrate At The Workplace?

With over 1.2 million Britons living abroad and with the UK attracting more and more young people to its borders  each year, expatriation has become increasingly popular. Moving to a different country allows you to discover new cultures, gives you the opportunity to travel and not to forget – all the benefits at the new workplace. But it could sometimes get a tad bit difficult for expats to integrate professionally without them understanding the working culture of that company or country. You might not understand their sense of humour (if you’re someone new to the UK, trust us, this is very common!), or the references, or the constant need to talk about the weather… Whatever it may be, we have some tips to help you integrate yourself into the workplace.

Here’s a list of countries which attract a large number of expats every year

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According to Expat Insider – Ecuador, Mexico, Malta, and Singapore topped the list of favourite destinations. Luxembourg, New Zealand, Thailand, Panama, Canada and Australia are not too far behind either.

Where do the British expatriate? 

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An estimated 5.5m British people live abroad permanently i.e. nearly one in ten of the UK population. This emigration has happened in cycles over 200 years and the trend only seems to grow stronger as the years go by. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, the countries Britons move to the most include Australia, Spain, United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and France.

Understand the cultural differences:

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Erin Meyer in her book The Culture Map: Breaking Through The Invisible Boundaries Of Global Business talks about how cultural differences can cause significant misunderstandings within an international team. She came up with a tool called cultural map, which provides us with a comprehensive view of the misunderstandings that can occur in a multicultural professional setting. The card has eight points: communication, assessment, persuasion, leadership, decision, confidence, disagreement and planning. With the help of this map, it’s easy to understand and compare how different countries interact with each other in the work place. For example, the US business culture is much more explicit than the French culture, emphasising transparency, repeating key points, and recapping in writing. Ever so often, employers only focus on one of two aspects while neglecting all the issues that are equally important. With the help of this, it might be easier for employers to focus on all 8 aspects. You can read more about this here.

Key things to do before the big move:

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  • Prepare several months in advance – If you know of your move well in advance, it is often suggested that you start planning and preparing for it a good three months in advance, to ease you through the process.
  • Educate yourself – Use existing networks of friends, acquaintances and colleagues to get all the answers you’re looking for. You might want to know about the weather, about the culture, about eating habits, about banks – anything. If you don’t have access to a wide array of people, worry not, because the Internet is here! You can contact people via Facebook groups and who knows, you might make some friends before you’ve even moved!
  • Paperwork – Read up on all the paperwork that’s needed and sort everything out in advance. This reduces the hassle that comes with moving locations.
  • Get help from HR – Don’t be afraid to reach out to HR at the new company to ask for help. Like you, there must have been lots of other people that have moved base and it’s always helpful to have a chat with someone who has been through the experience already, to help you understand the culture and norms of the host country better. Most companies’ HR teams can often help with helping you find language courses (if it’s a barrier) or putting you onto the right people to find accommodation. So, don’t hesitate. Just ask.
  • Stay positive – Moving homes is hard enough.. imagine moving countries! But stay positive, know that it will get better, and you’ll eventually settle down. Communicate and learn from the locals as much as you can, and you’ll have a ball exploring a new city, a new country.

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Here’s what you should avoid:

  • Prejudices and pre-conceived notions
  • Constantly comparing your home country to your current country (which hopefully someday, you’ll call your home country)

Fancy working abroad? Adzuna can help you find the perfect job in Brazil, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Poland, Russia, France, India and South Africa. What are you waiting for? Go on and pack your bags!