Business Environment

In Spain by Eller Student

Working abroad in the Serhs tourism office for eight weeks was an experience I will cherish and one that I will never forget. I gained valuable knowledge and tools that I plan on using to reach my future goals. Spain’s business culture and environment is completely different than that of the United States and it gave me a different perspective on how the business world operates. Every culture has their own style of getting work done and there is not one way to go about it. Also the business culture usually ties into the overall culture of that country.

 Working both in the United States and Spain, I noticed how different the business cultures are. The most obvious aspect is the free flowing nature of the workplace in Spain compared to the competitive natured business environment in the U.S. It seems that Spanish business people value modesty and character over obtaining profits and being successful at all costs. In Spain, its not about how fast or how many sales are made, it is how you go about obtaining sales and the way you act through the process. In Spain you are taught to establish a business relationship with an individual before making a sale. In some cases in order to even make a sale a relationship must exist. You do not make the sale during the first meeting unless an individual is buying based off a company’s reputation. In the United States, a sale is focused off the product and the marketing of that product rather than creating a long term relationship. If a relationship is made in the process then it means more success but in Spain it is very highly valued.

Furthermore I want to focus on the overall atmosphere of the workplace in Spain. As I came to the office everyday, the first thing that is very obvious is how relaxed it is. I saw employees walk in anywhere from 9am in the morning to 12pm in the afternoon. It seems that employees can come and go as they please and some can even set their own work hours as long as the work is getting done. This is something that you would never see in the United States. Never would you see an employee show up for work at noon unless it was the boss of the company. Also, the overall business attire is extremely casual. On a normal workday, you see the average male employee wearing blue jeans and a button down shirt. In the U.S. business world, it is a suit, tie and dress shoes every single day. This again attests to Spain’s laid back culture. Lastly, everyday at 2pm most of my office would break for a two hour lunch which is referred to as a siesta. They break for most likely around two hours and then come back to the office to finish their day. On the contrary, in the United States lunch breaks usually last anywhere from half an hour to an hour maximum. Therefore, work days in Spain are much shorter and it seems that less work gets done.

Both cultures have their own unique style of getting their business done. Even though it seems Spain is not getting as much done on a daily basis, which is a valid point, they are fine with it. They move at their own pace and live a lifestyle that they are comfortable with. Living in Barcelona for two months showed me how different two societies can be, especially when you move from extremely competitive to very casual and laid back. It gives you the perspective that not everyone is the same and there are different ways to go about doing your business.