Everybody dreams about finding a new job and settling down abroad. If you are planning the same in Laos, you have come to the right place. To make your work life in Laos meaningful and complete, I will walk you through all the facts and tips concerning the work culture of Lao people and help you adapt to the Laos business culture. So, if you are interested in learning and finding your new assets, continue reading below!
Laos is a friendly country with welcoming people and a blissful environment. It is a poor country, still developing its economy with agrarian methods. Locals have a low-profile life with generosity filled in every personality working for the country. However, some rules must be followed once you enter a job contract in Laos. Especially if you are from a Western culture, the culture of South East Asia can seem a little confusing at first.
Nevertheless, if you go through all the facts given in this blog, you will surely get accustomed to the basic facets of Lao workplace culture and make it easy for yourself to adapt and blend in with the locals on the very first day. So, let’s get started!
Finding A Job In Laos
Before we move on with the workplace rules, let us talk about how to find a job and what kind of jobs are available in Laos for someone like you who is new to the country.
Foreigners can easily find a job in Laos as long as they have an applied work visa. There are different kinds of visas for foreigners in Laos, and you can apply for one in accordance with your need.
Although Lao has opened its doors for expats to settle and find a job, it is not easy to find one always. Since Lao is a poor country, still in the initial stage of development, most of its work is concentrated in the forest and agricultural areas. So, you will find other jobs only if you have researched well and worked hard to secure a position.
Even when you find a job, you cannot expect heavy pay. Since Lao’s national income is lower than most Western countries, you are expected to receive a moderate salary, which can be less compared to Western states and jobs. It is not the case only for expats but also in general. The level of pay is generally low in the country.
The most interesting job you can secure as an expat, expecting a good earning, is teaching English at Lao schools or colleges. The country’s economic and political environment considers teaching a promising step toward developing the country, so as an expatriate, you have great potential to secure your position as a language professor, mainly English. The general income is around 100 US dollars to 1000 US dollars, which is quite good considering the needs of the nation.
You can also find a job as a translator. Since Laos has been growing its tourism industry in recent years with its beautiful sights and architecture, there is a heavy need for people who can give tour guides with English translations. Since not all locals are well acquainted with the English language, you can manage employment in that area easily. Translating and guiding the local tour guide can become a fun working experience.
Work Culture Of Lao People
Now let us get into the work culture facts and business etiquette you must be aware of before joining your office. Although these are simple points, you must abide by them if you want the locals to treat you as their own. If you are ready, let’s jump right into it.
Work Hours In Laos Work Culture
Office hours in Laos are pretty common, like in other countries. The work starts at 8:00 AM and goes on till 5:00 PM. However, overtime is very common, and you will see many employees working more than the given hours, especially those who are newbies to the company or the job.
Nevertheless, according to the laws of Laos, a person should not exceed their working hours by eight hours per day and six days per week. And if you are employed in dangerous conditions, your business setting will have only six hours of work per day and six days per week. A maximum of 48 hours per week of work is acceptable and must be followed. Laos business culture has a normal week’s work schedule. It follows a Monday-to-Friday routine, and in most cases, you will be expected to work on Saturdays as well.
An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and the employee that both parties are willing to work under the given circumstances and with the mentioned benefits. So, when you enter into an agreement, you are giving your consent to work for the given hours with the given salary and benefits. One thing that is worthwhile in Laos is that there is no differentiation between the locals and the foreign employees when it comes to rights and protection. The Law protects both equally and fairly.
However, the employment contract is usually with no fixed term. The contract can be renewed, but the total duration remains three years. If not, you get hired under the indefinite term employment contract and become a permanent member of the company or the job provided.
The Lao economy is a lower-middle-income developing economy. Laos is a socialist state and has a socialist-oriented market with high degrees of state ownership of means of production, along with an openness to foreign aid and foreign-directed investment. It is mostly based on agriculture and subsistence rice farming, employing almost 85% of the population. Although it is among the Least Developed Country, it has maintained stable and strong economic growth in the past decades and has been growing with a definite reach of GDP.
It is a poor country compared to Western states. However, with growing tourism and investments from foreign travelers, it has been growing as a tourist destination, giving rise to revenue and benefits to the state. The People’s democratic republic has seen significant growth in 2015 and 2016 in the tourism and travel industry and has evolved as a major export industry.
As a tourist, you are allowed to wear comfortable clothes considering the high temperature of the country, like shorts and sleeveless T-shirts. However, you need to be a little more careful when it comes to the workplace. Since Laos is a conservative country, you must wear decent clothes while conducting business. Wearing a comfortable yet decent dress can make a good impression and also bring appreciation from the locals.
For women, you can wear trousers and a shirt that covers your chest and shoulders properly. You can also opt for formal skirts during business meetings, but make sure they cover your knees and are not too body-hugging. For men, you can opt for casual shirts and pants on regular days and western suits on formal meetings. Since it is mostly warm in Laos, always look for lightweight suits that are easy to carry.
Hierarchy In Laos Business Culture
In important business meetings and decisions, deference and respect are given to the most senior person in the organization. It is not a hierarchy in a structural sense but more of a way of showing respect to the person with more experience and credit. Whenever you meet your business partners or people from higher ranks, the senior person will always introduce themselves first and then follow back to you.
Even during meetings, the senior person will carry forward the meeting and the entire session will be led by them. Even the adjournment of the meeting lies in their hands in most cases. They have a superior say in specific matters, and their final decision holds more gravity than others. So, if you see someone of a higher rank, make sure to allow them to address the question at hand first.
The official language of Laos is the Lao language. So, it is a strict recommendation you learn some common Lao business and job vocabulary. Doing so will help you blend in with the locals and switch languages easily when you face any barriers. However, even English and French are common business languages in Laos. So, you will find colleagues who speak English, and you can communicate easily with them.
Nevertheless, the Lao locals are more comfortable with Lao and French. You will find people speaking French more comfortably than English. So, if you get the time, you must go through the Lao language and equip some daily vocabulary that will help you with regular conversations.
If you are fond of vacations and holidays in the midst of heavy workflow, don’t worry, Laos will balance your life. According to the laws, Laos business allows 15 days of annual vacation leave. So, you can have a nice vacation during those 15 days and explore the nature of the country. Even in cases of maternity leaves, you get 120 days of leave, and it is applicable for both foreigners and local citizens.
Apart from the annual vacation leave, you also get a lot of public holidays. Some of the most important ones are the Lao new year, International new year, International Labour Day, International Women’s Day for women employees, and Lao national day, and foreign employees can take off for their respective nationality’s national day. And the best part is that Lao employees get paid public holidays and can be absent on any one day in the week if the public holiday falls on a weekly holiday, Sunday.
Meetings In Lao Business
Once you join the office, you will have a lot of meetings to attend. Concerning the meets, there are some things that you need to be aware of. Lao people are very personal and friendly. So, before the meeting starts, they will engage you in small talk and ask personal questions.
Secondly, punctuality is valued in Laos. Make sure that you arrive before the appearance time of the arranged meeting. Being late can provide a negative impression. In case you are arranging a meeting, make sure you get done with your paperwork early, as digital work is still not a revolutionary concept in Laos.
Also, when it comes to communication, indirect communication is favored. It concerns saving face, which is very important in Laos. Direct refusals and confrontational conversations are avoided. And it is essential to remember that the senior person will lead you through the meetings.
Learn With Ling App
So, there you go! Now you know some of the most important rules and regulations of work culture in Laos. Knowing these will help you adapt easily to the new culture and society and help in understanding the local etiquette. However, if you want to make yourself more comfortable, download the Ling app now from App Store or Play Store.
Ling is one of the most revolutionary language learning apps that provide content on different topics like food, culture, clothes, hobbies, sports, and many more. It covers 60+ foreign languages and has an AI chatbot that engages you in interactive lessons. So, if you want to learn new vocabulary and improve your communication skills, the chatbot will help you do that without any hassle.
The best part of the app is that you also get audio lessons, which make sure that you pick the correct accent and learn the right pronunciations. So, download the Ling app now and start learning Lao today!