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Multicultural work environments

It is 17:00 in Valencia (UTC+1) a good time slot to meet with our clients based in San Francisco (UTC-8) and Berlin (UTC+1) and part of our team in Detroit (UTC-5) as well. 

A German, an Italian, an Asian, a couple of Spaniards, a Frenchman, two North Americans and a Mexican lady located in the United States. It could easily be the beginning of any old joke, but this is a most common business meeting in recent times. People of at least seven nationalities gathered simultaneously from four locations on the planet. 

Telematic meetings are a great tool, they have been with us for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has ended up generalizing them. Today, it is possible to eliminate borders and establish fully effective and productive meetings from anywhere. Make no mistake, videoconferences do not fully satisfy the experience of a face-to-face contact. I will not elaborate now explaining why, but it must be recognized that without a doubt they offer a series of incredible advantages. They reduce costs and travel time, with the consequent benefit for the environment, improve productivity and enhance the union between relocated work teams.

Multiculturalism brings together a diverse set of people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds in the workplace. Where different cultures converge, there will be different ways of tackling problems. Within a multicultural team, everyone looks at situations through a different and sometimes unique perspective. The wealth of viewpoints brings a wide range of ideas that benefit any team. 

Another interesting topic is that having a multicultural workforce shows a different face to the public. Clients have the opportunity to speak with someone who knows their mother tongue or understands certain customs. A multicultural workforce involves even a small business in a global market. 

Relating to people of different nationalities daily brings you closer to cultures and customs different from yours. It makes you see the world from another perspective, increases your empathy and ultimately helps you to be more tolerant. In some cultures, there is linear thinking and they are used to doing things in order. Any change or deviation from what was planned is a point of disagreement; Other cultures are more flexible or circular and break this order almost naturally. There are many ways of dealing with a problem and each one has its degree of validity. A multicultural team complements each other, it is true that initially it takes effort to face the cultural barrier, but finally synergies are created that definitely influence creativity. Creative teams are characterized by considering other alternatives other than the way things are traditionally done, and multiculturalism in a development team enhances this.

On the other hand, understanding with like-minded people who think similar to us is simple. The challenge is to do it with those who have ways of thinking and acting very different from ours. New communication skills are developed. You learn to communicate in a more effective and understandable way, and I do not mean only to speak the same language, but also to interpret the body language of each culture, very diverse in many cases.

Being part of multicultural environments allows us to learn things that no textbook will teach us. Growing as people, breaking paradigms, leaving the comfort zone and ultimately being more complete professionals capable of adapting to different environments. It also allows you to see things through other people’s eyes and is a way to see the world in one place. All cultures have something to teach us, it is in the differences where the true value and learning lies.

Finally, we cannot ignore that we live in a highly changing and increasingly global society, where ethnic and cultural diversity does not stop increasing and adapting to a multicultural work environment helps people to feel appreciated for who they are and not just for the skills they offer. Employees who feel valuable tend to be happier in their jobs, and therefore more productive. 

In Eines and throughout the Konica Minolta group we are more than proud to promote respect and integration among our workers of different ethnicities and nationalities as well as commercial relationships with customers and partners around the world as one of our bases. 

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