Quality over Quantity

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It seems the beautiful weather is finally here to stay in Dublin after several weeks of rain, clouds and cold! I was a bit worried that the weather would never break despite my co-worker’s assurance, but for the past week, it has been blue skies and warm weather most days. I’m doing my best to make the most of it! Going to parks after work, catching dinner at cafes with friends, and taking longer routes to walk home.

Last night several Pitt students and I had the opportunity to see Riverdance live! A traditional Irish show centered around music and dance, it was an amazing experience to share with friends. It even motivated several of us to take an Irish step dancing class! I really enjoyed the show, and hope I get to attend more shows or sports games in the future like that. Apart from that, I had another normal week of work looking out the window waiting to enjoy the sun!

If I had to summarize all the differences in work culture between Ireland and the United States, I would have to say it is the pace that is the most different. In the United States, most business meetings, work, class, or anything has been very fast paced and quick. A group of people comes together only to accomplish a task, and once it is quickly finished, they disband and move on. Oftentimes, we put aside other important parts of our lives to accomplish business, like our health or family. 

In my short time in Ireland, however, the work experience and culture have been much different. In general, despite lots of hard work, it is a slower paced environment that focuses on employees more than on the work itself. My boss has said that the quality of the work done depends on whether or not an employee is doing their best and giving their best. In order for them to do this, they must take their time, take breaks, and prioritize their life and health overwork. If an employee is overworked and sick, they aren’t going to provide you with good material or deliverables.

In addition to not overworking employees, having a good company culture that encourages conversation and relationships is a big priority here. Many people will not want to conduct business with you unless you open up to them and form relationships. This was hard for me at first, as I simply wanted to remain professional and respectful while accomplishing my tasks. As time passed, I got more and more questions from co-workers. In a very kind way, they asked about my time in Ireland, what life is like in America, among many other things. I’ve learned to open up more, and I’ve truly enjoyed spending the first 30 minutes at work making a cup of tea and talking to my co-workers instead of immediately getting to work.

Prioritizing health is another factor that differs from the United States. In America, if you have a cold or some illness that isn’t drastic, it is expected for you to come into work and produce quality work. One day, I came into work with a very harsh cold. My voice was quite gone, my throat was hurting and my sinuses were not good. Still, I came into work. My boss, after seeing how under the weather I was, very kindly sent me home early. She said not to worry, and that getting better needs to be my top priority before coming back to work. At first, I told her on multiple times that I was fine and didn’t need to go home, but she insisted, so I listened. I was very thankful for this and soon came to realize why she did it. Rather than treat me harshly and have me produce subpar work and a slow rate, she sent me home so I could get better and produce better work the following day. Not only does it show her employees that she cares, but it also is beneficial to the company as a whole. 

I will definitely be taking back a lot regarding work culture when I return home to the states. I think that the idea of taking breaks for the sake of quality work and efficiency is a very valuable asset to integrate into my life back home. Not only does it allow me to focus on my health, but it also ensures I will be producing quality work. In addition, I think getting to know your co-workers well before diving into work is another good take away. I don’t think people in the US will be as willing as those here, but I don’t see the harm in trying. Even kind gestures can show your coworkers good intent and your care for the team and project.