Interior Design Company Cultural Differences

Advice for the interior designers in China who would like to work in the US:

Working overtime voluntarily in Asia is often portrayed as the workers’ strong devotion and dedication to work hard for the companies while working overtime frequently is a sign of inefficiency in the US.

Most of American businesses are running based on 3 principles, Efficiency, Innovation, and Elimination of Competition, so every company policy was designed exactly for achieving these 3 goals. For instance, many people think American businesses do not like their employees to stay at work late or work overtime is because America has more stringent labor law and many American companies do not want to pay for the overtime pay. Well, yes, it might be part of the reason, but there are more to it.

1. Efficiency: First of all, the companies I had worked at in the US, none of them actually paid for the overtime pay, but how come none of my ex-employers ever asked me to work overtime? in fact, throughout my 14 year career in the US, I probably had worked overtime less than a week if you put all of my overtime hours together. American companies believe the longer you work, the less efficient you become, when people get tired, they have hard time to stay focus, and their pace will get slower but the chance of making mistakes will increase. American businesses expect you to work with 100% efficiency when you are at the office, if you are not performing at the top condition, you are just wasting time. That is why the US companies also do not like their sick employees to show up at work. Because they do not want a dizzy zombie-like person at work who probably will waste a lot of time on blowing his/her nose or rushing to the restroom every other minute and give the virus to other workers and make them sick and become ineffective. Basically you can just call in and tell the company you are not coming in to the office just because you do not feel like working today in the US, why? because American companies think if your mind is not here when you are working, you are not effective, you are wasting time here in the office. Many American businesses give their employees 5 sick/personal days in addition to the 2-week paid vacation days is exactly for that purpose. Now, for increasing the productivity, some companies are giving employees extra time to take a nap after lunch.

2. Innovation: Research also shows most of creative and innovative ideas happened when people were outside of offices during non working hours. So, American companies want their employees to enjoy their personal lives. They do not believe keeping employees at the office for longer working hours has any positive impact on being creative or innovative.

3. Elimination of Competition: Sung Zu’s The Art of War says The best way of defeating the enemy is to defeat the enemy without sending out a single troop. American businesses definitely follow this ancient principle from China. The best way to defeat your business competitors is not to compete with better products or services but not even let the competition happen at the first place. Many American tech companies often filed suits against their foreign competitors over the copy right issues to keep the competition out, and many products made by foreign competitors can not even be imported to the US market because of the violation of copy right. Endless lawsuits also weakened their business competitors’ ability to compete because their competitors had to spend more time and resources on defending themselves at the court but less on developing new technology. American businesses treat their employees not only as partners but also as competitors, prolonged working hours creates dissatisfaction towards the working environment which usually caused employees to quit their jobs and work for other companies or start out on their own, no matter what, these employees eventually will become the competitors directly or indirectly. Many states in the US requires commercial interior designers to have state issued licenses in order to practice, it is also another way to keep more competitions out.

Of course, high health insurance cost in the US is also a major factor that American businesses have to make their employees work very efficiently because keeping the numbers of full-time employees down will save money on the employees’ health insurance premiums, and they definitely do not want their employees to get sick all the time because of long working hours which will also drive up the employees’ health insurance costs.

So, if any of you have the opportunity to work in the US, do not think your employer will be happy and appreciative to see you or people working under you working overtime constantly because it will only make your employer think you have very poor time schedule or project management skills. The last thing you want your employer to think is you are not efficient or creative, and a competitor creator.