UK businesses are reaching ever-further into new markets, with South East Asia rapidly climbing the wish list for home-grown companies laying down roots around the world.
With ever-more sophisticated technology and communications, strong workforces and idyllic destinations, it’s no surprise businesses are finding no shortage of employees ready to up-sticks on a quest for the ultimate work-life balance.
PM David Cameron’s recent trade mission to Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore, accompanied by British business leaders, saw a £750 million investment to boost economic links with the ASEAN Economic Community.
3000 UK businesses currently operate across the region, primarily exporting engines, motorcars and whisky. But while South East Asian countries collectively rank as the 7th largest economy in the world, by 2030 it is projected to be the world’s 4th largest single market.
Moving a workforce is never a straight duplication to another postcode.
“South East Asia is an emerging economic region bursting with opportunities for businesses who take care to establish themselves in the right way,” says Rob Dollar, managing director of HCR. “These countries are known for their hospitality, friendliness and laid-back living as well as breath-taking beauty – the idyllic backdrop for any business meeting.
“But you can’t afford to be blasé about the practicalities. You will need, among other things, a visa and work permit and there are individual rules and regulations depending on the country. Tempted by the beaches of Thailand, the untapped potential of Cambodia or the more commercial Brunei and Indonesia, there’s much to gain as long as you approach it the right way.
“It’s also wise to gen up on local customs. The different attitudes and approach to life are more noticeable in some parts of Asia than others, particularly around religion, faith, philosophy and cultural traditions.”
The underlying rule is you can never be too polite or respectful. But other considerations go as far as strength of handshake, volume of voice and the use of first names. Don’t rush associates into decisions, negotiate in person and read every business card before pocketing them. With dining, gifts and public displays of familiarity also potentially contentious, the devil is in the detail.
“Many businesses turn to specialists like HCR for the practical arrangements,” adds Rob. “While finding schools, housing and transport are all part of our service, successful relocation looks much deeper. From cross-culture training to emotional guidance, we’re