Seattle: 18 to 29 March 2013

So I’m in USA now, working from the Seattle office. This is such a great opportunity to be able to work from the Seattle office. Today is my second day in the office.

While I will do up a proper post soon, this is a short post on my top line observations about USA.

1. Nice and welcoming people with exceptional service: I think Americans are generally warmer and nicer as compared to Asians. When I went to a fish and chips place alone, I struck up conversation with a couple of patrons next to me and we had a mighty conversation about how some people are so ignorant about the Internet. The service staff also go to lengths to make sure that you are taken care of. When I was at AT&T trying to find a prepaid solution that suits my needs, Jose Galvez, the service staff was an absolute angel.

2. Working styles and dynamics: I think a lot of time we take our Singapore office set up for granted. After spending just merely two days here, I realise how much of a luxury it is to have everyone consolidated in one place. In the Seattle office, due to geographical boundaries, a lot of meetings take place via calls and video conferencing. Whatever happened to instantaneous responses that we are so used to?

3. Relationships vs transactions: Clients tend to be more of a “relationship” as opposed to being more transactional. I think a lot of times, clients call us for things that they need/want. We talk about building trust & relationship with our clients all the time but if client interactions are merely transactional, this trust will surely need some work. When I happen to hear client calls, they’re more like, “Oh hi, how are you? I hear that…” instead of our, “Hi XXX, just wanted to check with you on…”

4. Space and noise: The Seattle office is a lot more spread out than Singapore’s office simply because well, land is cheaper than Singapore’s. Singapore’s compact office layout facilitates more conversations as opposed to Seattle’s more spaced out layout. I can go for hours without having a conversation here which is not possible in Singapore.

5. Time: I think the Americans are a lot better with time than we are because they are more focused with meetings. Each meeting seems to come with an agenda, with each discussion point allocated an X amount of time. Also, lunch appears to be mostly brown bags at your desks. Well perhaps, people tend to bring lunch from home (as it is cheaper to cook) and also, it is more efficient to eat and work I guess. You work while you eat, you get to work on time and you get off work on time.

6. Language nuances: We follow British English which has different names for certain stuff. E.g. an elevator is a lift. Also, we say to “top up” a prepaid card and here, it is to “refill” a prepaid card. I have to remember to say “danz” class instead of dance class.

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