Global Talent Update – March 2024

EUROPE

Germany has started a six-month four-day workweek trial that will allow employees at 45 companies across the country to work one less day per week for the same pay. The initiative, which only involves companies whose work can be adapted to a shorter workweek, is led by Berlin-based management consultancy Intraprenör together with the collaboration of the non-profit organisation 4 Day Week Global (4DWG).

Advocates of the shorter workweek hope that working four days a week will make workers happier and more productive at a time when Germany is struggling with slower productivity growth and a labour shortage. Productivity is normally calculated by dividing economic output by hours worked. After reaching an all-time high of 105.20 points in November 2017, Germany’s productivity has steadily decreased, according to data from Deutsche Bundesbank, though it remains higher than other major economies in Europe.

According to supporters of the four-day workweek and most workers who already tested it, working one less day per week would increase workers’ well-being and motivation, making them more productive. Working fewer hours per week might also convince those who are not willing to work a full week to enter the workforce, helping to reduce the current labour shortage which is affecting industrialised countries around the world. Germany is currently struggling with a lack of workers in skilled high-growth sectors.

Read more at Germany launches major 4-day workweek trial amid labour shortage | Euronews.

ASIA PACIFIC

Thailand’s business culture is characterized by intricacies and unique nuances that set it apart from many other global markets and create a distinctive business environment. The concept of “greng jai,” for example, plays a pivotal role in interpersonal relationships, fostering harmony and social cohesion. It goes beyond mere politeness; it’s a cultural norm encouraging individuals to be attuned to the needs and emotions of those around them.

In a business setting, “greng jai” often translates to hesitancy to express direct disagreement or dissatisfaction. Instead of outright rejection, people may choose silence to avoid confrontation. For instance, when you initially introduce yourself to a potential client and receive a lukewarm response or no reply to your email, it shouldn’t be seen as a dismissal but rather as an opportunity for negotiation or further clarification.

Understanding greng jai as a cultural norm enables you to navigate negotiations more effectively. Offering product samples or actively seeking feedback can encourage communication. Additionally, acknowledging and respecting your counterparts’ time and refraining from pushing for immediate responses after working hours can further strengthen your professional relationships.

Navigating the nuances of Thailand’s business culture opens the door to fruitful collaborations and mutually beneficial relationships within Thailand’s dynamic business landscape. Acknowledging and respecting the local perspectives on these cultural elements is key for foreign businesses looking to not just survive but thrive in Thailand’s lively and diverse market.

Read more at Thailand Business Culture: Insights & Tips (Local POV) | Thailand vs. Globe.

AFRICA

Nigeria has one of the biggest populations in the entire world, with more than 250 ethnic groups amongst its population, all influencing their cultural practices. Here are a few things you should be aware of in your business interactions in Nigeria:

  • Primary Contact. Nigerian business culture is oriented towards personal relationships and trust is highly sought so referrals are much more likely to get you in contact with your target decision-makers.
  • Greetings. When you have an in-person meeting, lead with a cordial, but not too aggressive, handshake and pay close attention to the hierarchal rules, as the person’s age and status should inform your actions.
  • Gifting. A gift is appreciated in a business context as long as it is not too extravagant. Gifts should be given with only the right hand or with both hands, as the left hand is considered unclean.
  • Dress-Code. It is important to dress well in Nigeria as the way you are dressed will signal your relative level of importance. Men should wear dark suits and ties and women should also wear dark suits.
  • Business Cards. These are very important in Nigeria — some people will not take you seriously if you don’t have a professional business card to establish credibility before advancing your discussion.
  • Business Meetings. The most effective way to communicate with Nigerian professionals is through in-person meetings even if the meeting is only 15 minutes long.

Read more at Business Culture: Nigeria | Nestlers Group.

SOUTH AMERICA

The Brazilian government allows U.S. citizens to enter Brazil as visitors for business or pleasure for up to 90 days without a visa. This has been good for tourism, but the lack of reciprocity rankles, as Brazilians must still apply for a visa in order to visit the United States.

Over the past several years, Brazil has decided to reintroduce visa requirements for U.S. citizens (as well as Australians and Canadians). But the implementation of this change continues to be postponed, most recently until April 10, 2024, to avoid interfering with Brazil’s high tourist season. In connection with the anticipated implementation of the visa requirement, Brazil began accepting online e-visa applications in early December 2023. E-visas will cost approximately U.S.$81 ($80.00 plus $0.90 service fee) per person and will be valid for multiple entries over a five-year period once issued.

Despite this upcoming tightening of visa requirements for U.S. visitors, and in light of the cross-border remote work and global mobility trend ever since COVID-19 started, Brazil now has a relatively simple solution for individuals who wish to work remotely from Brazil — a digital nomad visa process for those who are self-employed or who would like to live in Brazil while working remotely for a company abroad. To be eligible, an individual must prove their employment, have a minimum monthly income of approximately U.S.$1,500.00 or availability of bank funds in the minimum amount of US$18,000 at the time of application and must also have health insurance coverage.

Read more at Visiting Brazil? Visa Requirement for Business or to Work Remotely | Global Immigration Blog.