Work in HoChiMinhCity – Typical Vietnamese worklife by European Technical Manager’s eyes

Working in Vietnam is extremely different than working in any European countries. How does IT world look like in HoChiMinhCity? How different is work culture? Let me take you for virtual journey around my office in Vietnam.

Transportation to work

Uber! As I have mentioned in my previous post Uber is the most convenient way of transportation. More details with example of receipt in post Life in Ho Chi Minh City – What to expect when moving to Vietnam? Subjective advices and impressions by Ze. Below just short video from my way to work using UBER moto!

Uber

Dresscode

That’s the most complicated part. It is extremely hot and you cannot wear shorts nor T-shirts to the office! Be ready for it. Most of Vietnamese employees wear black skirts and white blouses. I highly recommend to bring or buy over here light smart-casual clothes as long pants, shirts, skirts or dresses, long enough to look professional. Forget about sports and really casual outfit.

Typical office day

The day starts at 8am. We usually arrive a little bit earlier to have breakfast in our office kitchen. My Vietnamese colleagues don’t have laptops, they use PCs what makes our life a little bit harder. In the meetings room we have one Windows laptop which can be used during presentations and workshops. The Internet is really slow, however there is not too much what we can do about it, it is mainly infrastructure issue. The day finishes at 5pm when everybody leaves and drives their motorbikes to home.

Scrum Board Scrum BoardScrum Board

As my role here is to support our new colleagues, teach them and implement our processes here, I drive a lot of workshops including Magento 2, Scrum, QA etc.

Presentation Magento Workshop Magento Workshop

Lunch breaks

During the lunch break the light is switched off. It is time for short nap or actual lunch. Me and my team usually go to small lunch spot next to our work. Typical lunch costs around 30k dongs. As you can see on the picture below, it is usually noodles or rice with some meat.

Lunch LunchLunch BreakLunch break

I already mentioned in my previous post about coffee. It is really strong and cold. I usually buy coffee at our rooftop bar in our work building. It costs 20k dongs. As I don’t like sweet coffee but Vietnamese coffee is too strong, I ask for the milk, however they only use condense milk which is sweet. I am lucky to be white European girl who is recognised by the whole building (I am only one European woman in the office) so I asked for fresh milk for my coffee. The result was that I don’t even need to ask anymore, I walk in to the restaurant and I am asked – The same? Yes, of course, the same and voila. What can be surprise, there is not coffee machines at the office.

CoffeeCoffee

Around lunch time, there is so many street spots where you can buy fresh fruits. It is great dessert for hot afternoon.

Lunch

Vietnamese colleagues

My Vietnamese colleagues are amazing! First of all they are super friendly and funny. All of us work in IT. It is difficult to judge knowledge and experiences of developers in Vietnam, what I can say for sure, they learn so fast and follow showed direction. Vietnamese developers are definitely extremely motivated. The only difficulty is mentality. Their culture tells them to put them always down, never say what they think and always agree. It takes a lot of time to convince them that you are not their boss, you are their colleague. They respect you so much, to the point that they lose self-confidence. It is so much to learn by them to look professional and confident during the meetings and in confrontation with the clients, however it just requires a little bit effort from us to teach them and support and I strongly believe we can achieve great results.

After Work activities

Since I have been in Vietnam we managed to have two team activities. How cool is it to have team building event on the beach?

TeamSeafood Fish Beach BeachBeach

Did you notice these little chairs? Yes, it is standards in Vietnamese restaurants and bars.

Team TeamTeam

Two words about these little eggs. It is Vietnamese yummy snacks. Unfortunately my stomach didn’t allow me to try, but my colleagues tried to convince me that they are extremely delicious.

Language

The language barrier is huge. It is so difficult to communicate with Vietnamese employees in English. Just a few of them speak kind of fluent English, and these who actually speak, has really difficult accent and it is extremely hard to have basic conversation. It is strongly visible in work environment. Sometimes I really have hard time to understand my colleagues and share my knowledge. It is even more difficult when they confirm that they understand but in real they have no idea what you said. It takes time to build trust in work environment, but as soon as you do it, everything becomes much easier. The employees become more open, started asking questions and learn.

That’s just beginning…

It is just beginning of my journey, in my next posts I will share more experiences and advices. Feel free to ask me questions and share your feedback. Hope you found my post useful.

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