Episode 3 – Have At You, Unnecessary Veneration!

Sir Arthur

This is not mine own real name but what past younger colleagues hath used to calleth me.

Sorry, I’ve been having too much fun with this online English to Shakespearean translator recently. Nevertheless, the above is a fitting example of how work relations can feel strangely formal or old-school in companies here in Manila.

Your company is a hamster! Your boss smelt like elderberries!

Anyone who’s held a job in the Philippines has experienced either being called sir or ma’am or having had to refer to their higher-ups as such. Above, I mentioned being called Sir Arthur not by people who work under me but by my contemporaries. As much as it is a sign of respect, it has in turn, become a barrier between a boss and his employees or even among peers. I’ll rant about the “Mamsir!” tragedy another day.

When a company employs a first-name basis rule of conduct where, say, a new hire can talk directly to his CEO by saying, “Hey, Mark!”, it builds this friendly, open relationship and work environment. Employees are happier because they feel they can be friendly to their managers or supervisors, that they can air their grievances openly.

In Episode 2, I mentioned my first work experiences were in Australia, so I was fortunate that I experienced this type of relationships at work from the onset. Now that I’m employed at a start-up, it pushes this practice even further. The guys who founded the company are often seen milling about the workplace and they don’t have their own private, cushy offices. They work wherever they can find space, be it a spare cubicle or an unused meeting room. They also encourage anyone to schedule one-on-one meetings with them to talk about anything you feel like. Yes, even have a chat with the CEO!

We can casually just walk up to anyone of them and say, “How’s it going, Steve?”, “Did you catch the game last night, Richard?”, “Don’t you just hate how everything here has tape on it, Joe? Like your take-out cup of soda has tape! Your paper bag from the bookstore has tape! Even the roll of masking tape you bought has tape!”. Oh, but I digress.

All in all, this wonderful culture cultivates a sense of equality, family, and belonging that is lacking in a lot of companies here.

On that note,
if ‘t be true any bastard calleth me “Kuya” ‘r “Tito”, i shall fart in thy general direction! Ser Arthur hast spoken.


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