Considering going Filipino for your VA or virtual staff? Great choice. With a Filipino VA you’ll get someone with an accent that’s neutral, or not quite as thick as other accents. And Filipinos are very exposed to American culture, their country has had more than a century of exposure and remains a popular tourist and business destination today.
So, aside from knowing that you can talk about your favorite Netflix shows with your Filipino VA, and possibly get spoilers, here are a few things you can expect with regards to the Philippine work attitude, good and bad:
Eager To Please
Filipinos are known for their hospitality and even though you’re not visiting the country, your VA will still be looking to accommodate your needs as best as possible.
This isn’t totally a pro though. It has its cons if the VA is too eager, as he or she may overpromise, giving unrealistic deadlines that might not be fulfilled. And even if the VA might meet the deadline the first few times, he or she might eventually fall short especially when other tasks come in which require balancing.
This is particularly the case with new VAs. They’re so fresh and full of energy, they don’t know how to curb their enthusiasm (or regulate it to workable levels).
So on your end, as a client, you can double-check with the VA and make sure he or she is not overstretched. You might not realize it but the VA may be overworking. The VAs might need you to tell them to just chill or work at a more measured pace.
In the Philippines, cooperation is exemplified by the concept of bayanihan, working together as one, which is visualized by images of old timey Filipino townsfolk banding together and helping their neighbors life and move a wooden hut. Like the tropical equivalent of Amish communal home building.
While VAs won’t be literally recreating such scenes, and today most Filipinos live in more modern homes, nonetheless the spirit of cooperation lives on. And healthy offices will encourage such teamwork among their staff.
For your business, this means if your VA becomes ill and is unable to work, or is otherwise indisposed, he or she can pass the tasks along to colleagues who are more than willing to pick up the slack. And if you’re planning to expand your startup sometime soon, you can leverage this into an opportunity to identify the future members of your expanded virtual staff. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
Industrious and Innovative
The iconic image of a Filipino community coming together to move a house comes with several other archetypical Philippine sights. One is the farmer with a carabao plowing the fields and ladies planting seeds. The other is the jeepney, the mode of public transportation initially born from repurposed US military jeeps from World War 2.
What do these images mean? It means Filipinos work hard. And our industrious VAs can go the distance, you can push them and they’ll push themselves… sometimes they can go too hard and it has to be reigned in.
But they’re not above coming up with clever solutions, innovating and making use of the resources around them, to solve problems while saving time and energy. If you let them, they’ll figure something out.
Our VAs aren’t factory machines, they’re people. And they’ll adapt to overcome challenges. On the individual level as well as a group brainstorming for optimal solutions, and even as a community.
And Yes Women, too.
We already said that Filipinos are eager to please, but this can go beyond that. By Western standards, Asians – Filipinos included – lack assertiveness, they don’t like rocking the boat. They might hesitate to frankly say that your idea can’t work. Or they might not report that they’re working at full capacity and are feeling the strain. They might do it subtly, because that’s how they’re used to doing it in their tightly-knit society, but such cues – tone of voice, choice of words – might not be recognized by someone with a different background.
Thankfully, this can be remedied by encouraging your VA to give his or her honest opinion to you, directly. And over time the more familiar you get with your VA, they’ll become more comfortable with giving you their two cents. This is the key to a healthy workplace. VAs have their own opinions and are innovative individuals, they’re not drones or robots, and all it takes is a little coaxing and you can unlock this and leverage their assertiveness for your startup!
Filipinos love to jam. What’s jamming? No, it’s not what you spread on bread. Jamming relates to playing music as Filipinos are a musical people and when they hang out they often pass the time by singing on the kareoke machine, playing the guitar or other instruments. Jamming is synonymous with hanging out. It’s part of community.
This means that a Filipino’s natural state is chilling, even when they’re in the tropics. Workplaces that are relaxed but nonetheless within-boundswill bring out the best in them. It’s like a spring-loaded Nerf gun. If given time to unwind, with game nights and team outings to the beach, your VA and his or her team will return to work fully charged and revved up for the daily grind, that race for productivity.
That’s how jamming can make all the difference in the world. The eager to please attitude? Industriousness and innovativeness? Bayanihan teamwork? Even the don’t want to rock the boat way of asserting themselves? Those are all tied together to jamming. This is what makes Filipinos, and our VAs, exceptional.