Malaysia’s coworking scene is rife with opportunities for businesses to excel. More importantly, coworking seems to be one of the work styles that actually fits in with the Malaysian business culture and ways of doing business. For those working in Kuala Lumpur, more specifically, a coworking space can facilitate building relationships that foster business.
While you might find a variety of coworking spaces in Kuala Lumpur, finding space whose mission not only supports collaboration but also respects the business culture is not hard to find. Conglomerate serviced office providers like Servcorp coworking in Kuala Lumpur, for one, provide office space keeping the nuances of the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual population in mind. Businesses might find that knowing the important practices can go a long way to being a bridge in working with people in the country.
Let’s take a closer look at business etiquette in KL and examine exactly how Malaysians do business.
Building Business Relationships
As with many other cultures in the region, business relationships are founded on trust with many of them being personal relationships that rely on loyalty, harmony and non-aggressive behaviour. It is common to have friends and family helping each other out in business because family is a very important part of the culture. The personal relationship is so important that it is common for people to make friends before building relationships.
Regardless of the plurality of Malaysian society, an emphasis is placed on respecting other’s positions, and you will never see Malaysian professionals yelling or confronting co-workers or subordinates publically. Saving face is a part of a business culture that strives for harmony in all things, and you might find that a lot of the communication that goes on is indirect.
While professionals definitely value skill over position or authority, you will often find that Malaysian professionals will defer to someone with experience and skill over someone in authority. It is not usual for professionals to meet a few times to feel each other out before actually engaging in business. When in meetings, seating is usually arranged hierarchically, and decisions are made by the head, even though everyone is consulted.
Structure In Meetings
In meetings, they usually begin with light conversation, and while Malaysians are relaxed where time is concerned, their meetings begin punctually. As stated, these professionals spend a lot of time bargaining and negotiating, and much of the time, it takes a long time before major decisions are reached. Directly rejecting a proposal is seen as rude, and while they do not directly say negative things, a lot of times professionals will speak around the subject. A good rule of thumb is any bad news will not be directly stated, and those unfamiliar with the culture have to pay attention to facial gestures and body language as a part of communication.
Most small shops are open during standard business hours between 10 am and 9:30 pm. Banks and government offices are usually open late in the morning and close mid-afternoon. Businesses are always closed on holidays, and professionals should avoid doing business on Friday in observance of the day that Muslims pray, and Muslims comprise a significant part of the population. Furthermore, during the month of Ramadan, anything related to business is significantly reduced, so expect delays.
Doing Business In Kuala Lumpur
Working in another country invites new experiences. In addition to the new scenery, living in another country surrounded by the culture and practices of another civilisation can be an eye-opener. In business, these practices can also help us learn how to deal with the many trials that occur in business, and this is especially true of the Malaysian culture.