Jul 26
man wearing a white shirt on the left side and man wearing a suit on stage on the right

Remote Staff CEO Shares Things He Learnt Working with Filipinos at Emergence 2022

Every year, Wholesale Investor, a leading global venture investment platform, holds an investment conference for business investors and business owners. The goal of this Emergence event is to get them to connect and exchange information to help increase opportunities for innovation and success for businesses.

For Remote Staff, being invited by Wholesale Investors to this major event was an opportunity to promote the benefits of outsourcing and the potential of Filipino remote talent. 

Chris Jankulovsi, Founder and CEO of Remote Staff, thinks that the event was a perfect opportunity to pitch Remote Staff. This once-a-year opportunity was just too good to pass up, so he and General Manager Rica Jankulovski made ample preparations for the event.   

They set up a Remote Staff booth complete with tablets and headsets for visitors to use, so they can speak with Remote Staff’s Lead Account Officers and Lead Recruiters about Remote Staff service offerings. 

Chris’ Tips for Working with Filipino Remote Workers

Given the chance to present onstage, Chris talked about outsourcing to the Philippines and the importance of hiring the right person for a job. However, the highlight of his 16-minute presentation was the things he learnt working with Filipino remote workers for 15 years. He shared culture-specific behaviours and practices of Filipinos. Here are some of Chris’ tips for making your remote working relationship with a Filipino staff more healthy and productive: 

1. Appreciation goes a long way. 

sticky note with Good job!

Filipinos love being acknowledged for a job well done. I mean, who doesn’t? We all want some validation that we are doing a great job and contributing in some way, and Filipinos are no different. In fact, their loyal nature motivates them to do even better when acknowledged by their employers and managers. Help build their confidence, optimism, and motivation to do well in their roles by showing them your appreciation with a kind word or a small token

2. Maintain cohesiveness, team spirit, teamwork, and camaraderie.

Filipinos enjoy team building activities or events where they can socialise and bond with you and their colleagues. It is important for them to get to know the people they work with, especially their employers and managers. Participating in these events and letting your Filipino team members get a glimpse of who you are make them feel a bit closer to you. This sense of closeness gives them more confidence and makes them feel more at ease when expressing their ideas and opinions at work. 

Encourage constant co-worker/team interaction by allowing your Filipino staff to create chatgroups. Yes, even watercooler ones. For Filipinos, the workplace is not only a place to work or make a living. It is also an opportunity to make lifelong friendships.  

Filipinos are also big on celebrations, so celebrating important events with them such as Christmas and birthdays is very much appreciated. It is highly encouraged that you allow them to take the time off to celebrate Philippine holidays with their families, such as the Holy Week, All Saints’/Souls’ Day, and the New Year.  

3. Enjoy a good laugh with your Filipino team. 

coworkers laughing together

Everyone loves a good, hearty laugh, and Filipinos are no exception. The only difference is that laughter is more than just casual entertainment in the Philippines; it is considered as a lifeline to sanity and survival. Filipinos get through the hardest of times by finding things that make them laugh no matter what situation they are in. They prefer to keep things light, so try to participate in the conversation to get a good laugh as well.  

The Filipino humour may be quite different from the Australian humour, and it’s okay if you don’t get it or if you don’t find it funny at all. Just know that it exists, and try to learn more about it by interacting with your Filipino staff as often as you can. 

4. Criticise in private; praise in public.  

woman balancing happy and sad emoticon

Saving face is a huge part of the Filipino culture. Filipinos do not appreciate words and actions that cause them to lose face in front of others. Others might think they are being too sensitive or emotional, but in all fairness, there is always an appropriate time and place for airing work-related concerns and criticism. This does not have to be a public affair.

Respect is key when working with Filipinos and with anyone for that matter. Try to be considerate with your Filipino staff’s feelings. How would they feel if you talk about their poor performance in front of their colleagues? If you are speaking with a manager, how do you think they would feel if you speak about their poor management skills in the presence of their team? In order to build better rapport with your Filipino team, criticise with respect and give credit where credit is due. Even if the work relationship does not live long, at least part ways without burning the bridge.  

5. Provide clear instructions and set deadlines.

woman at her work desk stretching her arms up

After all this time, Filipinos are still finding it hard to shake off the concept of “Filipino Time” associated to their culture. Times have changed, and there are Filipinos who are actually quite strict when it comes to schedules and deadlines. As an employer or manager, you can help your Filipino staff get rid of this stereotype. Start by helping them manage and use their time wisely. 

One way to do this is to set clear deadlines and hard stops. By doing so, you hold them accountable for the use of their time. They will also have a better idea on how to allot their time for their daily tasks. Check in with them when the deadline comes, so that they know you are serious about getting things done on time. This practice emphasizes the idea that time is of the essence when it comes to business, and they have to make the most of their shift to get things done well and on time.    

6. Instead of waiting, ask for your Filipino staff’s opinion.   

woman wearing denim jacket thinking

There will be Filipinos in your team who will not volunteer their ideas. When they do, they do so with caution and in a polite manner, which is mistaken for lack of confidence. It is important to note that this is not necessarily the case. Filipinos are non-confrontational. They are just not used to initiating conversations, especially in situations that call for big decisions. They are afraid of their ideas getting shot down or laughed at. 

It may take your Filipino staff some time to warm up to you or feel safe to express their ideas. What you can do is to provide a go-between mother/father figure or a Filipino representative in the team. Another option is to ask for their opinion instead of waiting for it. This reassures them that their opinions are valued and that their voice is willingly heard.  

7. Set parameters on when your Filipino staff can make decisions without your approval. 

coworkers having a meeting over coffee

Filipinos have high regard for hierarchy and authority. As their employer or manager, your word is the law that they have to abide by. They understand that you may want to hear their opinions, but at the end of the day, you have the final say. Therefore, they make sure to follow your instructions to a T in order to maintain a smooth working relationship with you.

If you want your Filipino team member to be more proactive, explicitly set and explain the parameters on when they can make decisions without your approval. With the parameters in place, they will gain more confidence to make decisions on their own and apply themselves more. They will know that they are not stepping on your toes or on anyone else’s with the decisions they make. 

8. Build a strong team on the back of Filipino family values.

family of four

When it comes to priorities, family is always at the top of the list for Filipinos. You cannot compete with this. When a Filipino team member learns of a family emergency, expect them to drop what they’re doing, especially if they are breadwinners. Breadwinners are expected to cover their family and extended relatives’ needs. It’s not that they are forced to do this, but there is an unspoken obligation that stems from loyalty. Filipinos are naturally loyal to people who take good care of them, just like their family. This is why they volunteer to take care of them in return as a way of expressing gratitude. 

Filipinos demonstrate the same value when it comes to work. If you take good care of them as their employer or manager, they take care of you ten times back. They are grateful to you for enabling them to support their family financially. In return, they want to do their best to help you grow your business. Hence, the importance of investing in employee engagement efforts.

9. Learn how Filipino indirect communication works. 

woman in blue shirt doing the ok sign

Rather than confronting you, Filipinos find it easier to stay quiet or at least be subtle about what they truly want to say. By subtle, we mean their use of indirect communication. Non-verbal cues such as raising eyebrows (or an eyebrow if they are skeptical or mildly scandalised) or smiling are commonly used by Filipinos.

Try to be more observant of your Filipino staff to familiarise yourself with how they use indirect communication. Notice their smile that can mean discomfort or confusion or that eyebrow raise that indicates surprise, disbelief, or disapproval. 

10. Don’t force your Filipino staff to call you by your (first) name.

female employee talking to male employer

Filipinos do not call their employers, managers, and clients by their first names. They call them Ma’am, Sir, Mister, or Miss because these honorifics are considered a sign of respect. If you feel uncomfortable being called Ma’am or Sir, let them know how you prefer to be called. Insist if you must in a gentle and polite manner. But remember to not expect them to get used to doing so immediately. It is normal for them to feel uncomfortable addressing you by your first name alone. 

Even after getting into the habit of calling you by your first name, there will be times when your Filipino staff will suddenly call you Ma’am or Sir. If this happens, you can either let it go or give them a gentle reminder. They will eventually correct themselves, anyway, knowing that you feel uncomfortable being addressed as Ma’am or Sir. 

If you want to hear Chris talk about outsourcing and the Filipino remote talent, watch his full presentation at the Emergence 2022 here.  

Remote Staff is not only invested in helping you find the right Filipino talent for the role you are looking to hire. We also provide ongoing support for your remote working relationships to increase your staff’s productivity, help you scale your business, and give you more confidence to expand your team globally.

If you’re interested in what we have to offer, schedule a callback with us or simply give us a call.


+ posts

About The Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × three =