Business Culture in the Philippines and What You Need to Know to Succeed

July 20, 2015 | Sharon Cheong

This multicultural environment has a very ethnically diverse population that offers incredible opportunities for a new start-up or offshore plant. The vibrant and dynamic business atmosphere combines inexpensive labor with low-cost commercial property. As one of the largest markets in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has enjoyed progressive economic growth with a highly skilled work force.

The strategic location makes this island nation a gateway for investors who are searching for a wider Asian area. Today, numerous multinational companies take advantage of the modern conveniences of Makati City, which constitutes a large portion of Metro Manila. This area is known as the financial and business center and many local and international corporations have positioned their Filipino headquarters there. With international embassies nearby, the region is also known as the diplomatic center of the Philippines.

Offshore Operations in Makati City

The Philippines, especially Makati City, is fast becoming an offshore home for manufacturers of electronic components, clothing, machinery, petroleum products, foods and drinks, metals and minerals and many others. Business outsourcing services have become a booming segment of business and industry. New start-ups come to this area each year, along with major manufacturers who are looking an offshore office for their company.

Welcoming Expats

Expats coming to the Philippines should do adequate research to learn about the ease of doing business, investment opportunities, taxes and the business culture in this area. Though the Filipino professional ethos has adapted well to the confluence of West and East, those who are serious about becoming successful should know a few important things. For one, this area is geographically part of Southeast Asia, but has strong American and European ties. These affect everyday social interactions and the country's business culture.

Languages and Customs

The two main languages are Filipino and English. Many of the business practices have been westernized due to the influences of offshore corporations. Some of the Eastern traditions have survived and still play a key role in everyday company exchanges. Families have always been very important in Filipino culture and still are today. Many of the local businesses are family owned and operated. This causes business relationships to be more personal than in other countries.

Business structures are logically hierarchical and the executives generally make the big decisions, but the feelings and views of the group are important, especially since family members may be involved. In some negotiations, an agreement may be reached without dealing with senior executives or owners.

Business Meetings

Filipinos are very polite and known for their hospitality, even in the workplace. When just meeting a Filipino business person, it is acceptable to exchange polite conversation. Your tone should be neutral and always avoid direct questions. It is best to also avoid talk of religion, politics or other negative topics. Instead, discuss friends and family, as well as other light subjects. Business discussions can seem to go quite well and yet not really reach a definitive answer. Though this can be confusing to newcomers, it may be more beneficial to wait until a second meeting to ask for a confirmed yes on your proposition. Pushy language or assertive gestures can quickly end the deal.

Saving face is another important factor in both personal and business dealings. Never attempt to expose or ridicule a Filipino publicly. Self-esteem is important and arguing never profits in meetings. Though it's important to make eye contact during business meetings, avoid making fixed eye contact for long periods of time as this is seen as too aggressive. Avoid embarrassing situations at all costs.

Getting the Best Office Space in Makati City

You may be new to this area and need an impressive office space in Makati City. Servcorp Services Offices give you the best in luxury meeting rooms, board rooms and office space. Get all the amenities necessary to start and run any business such as internet, phones and mail forwarding. Servcorp has a longstanding reputation in Southeast Asia as the top provider of luxury office space and provides services around the globe. Please call +63 2 755 6500 for more information.