Filipinos, in general, are among the most hardworking people you’ll meet. They are dedicated and most often willing to learn. If you come from a different culture, you may be surprised with some of the cultural differences that can affect the working relationship with your VA. That’s okay – we’re all human and like any collaboration, learning about each other; what makes us ‘tick’ is an on-going process. It’s also what makes work-life interesting and allows us all to grow and see things from many different perspectives.
Here’s some of the things you may not know (yet!) about your Filipino Virtual Assistant:
English Fluency and Word Usage
About 95% of the population in the Philippines are fluent in American English.
If you are using Australian or UK English, you might have some words in your vocabulary that could mean an entirely different thing from what Filipinos are familiar with. For example, in Australia, flip flops are called thongs. If a Filipino VA is not familiar with Australian English, one would think that a thong is underwear. The term ‘flat out’ in Australia means you are incredibly busy and haven’t had time to do anything else. In the Philippines it means you’ve been ill and lying in bed!
You can see how colloquialisms can sometimes give the wrong impression and lead to confusion. Therefore, explaining things in straight-forward terms can save short-term misunderstandings. Say what you mean and if you aren’t sure if your VA knows exactly what you want performed for a task, simply ask them to explain back to you what they believe your request / communication is.
Having said all of that, don’t think you’ll never be able to use some of your day-to-day sayings or slang. Your Filipino VA will be just as interested to learn your ‘jargon’ as they will be to teach you theirs. You’ll soon be using both with ease and familiarity.
Filipinos are Non-confrontational
Filipino Virtual Assistants are respectful, polite and conscientious. Sometimes, they can be too polite and will keep saying ‘yes’ to everything even if they are already experiencing extreme difficulties. This does not apply to all, but often Filipino VAs tend to deal with the problem on their own rather than talk to their bosses because they want to avoid confrontation and the possibility of disappointing their client. It’s good practice to encourage your Virtual Assistant to speak up. You should also let them know that it’s okay to ask for help.
It’s also good to ask their opinion when discussing a task or planning a project. Sometimes they may see a better way to perform the task or notice a flaw with the current process, but your VA may not speak up as they do not wish to seem non-compliant or take a chance of ‘hurting your feelings’. If you want their input, tell them.
In relation to being non-confrontational, Filipinos also tend to be less confident to speak their minds because they are easily intimidated. Having a light conversation with them from time to time can help build trust and confidence. Remember, they are doing their best to make life easier for you – so praise them when they are doing things right and teach them ways to improve when the opportunity arises.
Work Hours and Holidays
According to the Labour Code of the Philippines, Filipinos must have a maximum of 40 work hours and should have at least two rest days in the week. It is important to discuss the schedule early so your Virtual Assistant can create a lucrative time management strategy that will work for both of you. In terms of holidays, the Philippines observe a handful of holidays in a year. Take time to know what these holidays are and discuss it with your VA. Just keep in mind that when you ask your VA to work on a holiday, additional pay must be given in accordance to the Labour Code.
Filipinos love receiving rewards as these make them feel appreciated and can inspire them to work harder. Simple things like free tickets to the movies or a small monetary bonus can go a long way. Giving rewards also shows that you care for them and that you value the work and effort they put in.