As the world becomes more globalized, and a large number of companies are building their branches overseas, it is important for us to know and understand what is common and valued in other cultures. In Singapore, there is a record of a growing trend in Japanese Company setting up here. This means that there are various of job opportunities for you to work in Japanese work environment as well. Since what Japanese workers do on a daily basis can be quite different from us, today I would like to focus on cultural differences in Japanese work environment. There are several customs and untold rules you need to know before you start working in Japanese work environment, but for this time, I will focus on rules of sitting in working occasions.
The first thing you need to know about Japanese work environment is where you should sit in working occasions. In Japanese society, they have high regards in the sitting arrangement as it represents your status and seniority depending on where you sit. Some other cultures also follow such rules, but in Japan, this is known as common sense and everyone has to follow. It is often valued to respect not only the top person but also your other seniors. In every occasion such as meetings, dining, and even when you take a taxi, there are specific rules of where to sit. Of course, when you happen to be with your Japanese clients, you should follow their culture of the sitting arrangement.
For example, in a meeting room…
There also are rules when you take a taxi…
This also ① is where the top person sits in a taxi. However, there will be differences which depend on whether the driver is a normal taxi driver or not. If the driver is someone the senior knows such as his/ her personal driver or one of your colleague, ① will sit in the passenger seat.
This can be complicated but in traditional Japanese restaurants…
If you work in a Japanese company, there might likely be occasions in formal Japanese-style restaurants. In this case, the sitting positions change. The top person will sit nearest to the “Tokonoma” where the picture is usually hanging on the wall or flower is displayed, and it is one step above then the floor level.
These numberings also apply in which person to serve the drinks or food firstly, so it is good to know if you are going to work in Japanese restaurants as well. Those rules are often known as common sense in Japanese society, so people hardly will teach you on the sitting arrangements. However, because those untold rules are very strict and most of the business people follow, you will be seen as “rude” or even “uneducated” if you sit wrongly.
Perhaps, in other culture also, those rules apply in some of the business occasions. In some culture on the other hands, letting female colleagues sit in the ① place can be seen as a good behaviour. Knowing how you are expected to behave in a certain culture is crucial these days. If you could interact well with more people, more opportunities are open for you!
EPS Staffing Service Group Inc. is a trusted HR partner in the Philippines and a part of EPS Group that has been operating recruitment and contract staffing services over decades in SEA.