International Mobility #cultural differences

Expats: how to seamlessly integrate into a foreign company

Moving to another country for work is a complex process. When away from home, you need to find your bearings in order to integrate into your new country. Even if expats manage to adapt to the habits and customs of their new country, they sometimes have trouble adjusting to a foreign corporate culture. A positive, curious and open attitude is the key to successful integration and global mobility.

With globalization, companies are increasingly sourcing staff from abroad or sending employees to their subsidiaries or international offices. These expat workers experience a cultural change that will need to be managed in order to facilitate their integration into their new company.

Arriving in a foreign company requires a period of adjustment. It is important to first familiarize yourself with the culture of the country, learn the basics of the language and make new acquaintances in order to be perfectly comfortable in this new environment, as well as being able to adapt to your new company. While intercultural management is now predominant in companies, newcomers still have to adapt to a system that is sometimes totally unknown to them.

The first few days with a new company as an expat often take place without any problem. However, we recommend you follow some basic rules.


To better understand this new system and how it works, listening skills are paramount. Paying attention to colleagues and managers while remaining reserved and modest is a first step towards integration. It is also a good way of discovering what type of relationship employees have with each other in order to adapt your behaviour accordingly. Some employees will probably be accessible and available, while others will be more reserved; you must be able to adapt and come to terms with the different personalities.

Adapt your lifestyle

Accustomed to the lifestyle of their country of origin, expats must be able to change their behaviour radically in certain foreign companies. The codes are no longer the same and the fact that you are adapting your attitude and behaviour accordingly will be appreciated.

Rely on your managers

Every company and every country has different management methods that must be understood in order to make your move a success.

Moreover, if respecting management is a universal rule, it is even more important for an expat. Managers give employees the opportunity to evolve and they are also a source of knowledge and experience, which you should always take advantage of. An attitude of respect and gratitude will always be welcome.

Forge links with your colleagues

Being an expat in a company is not a handicap but other employees may feel a certain discomfort or even jealousy towards the newcomer. Making yourself available to people showing friendly interest will facilitate your integration. The skills and experience gained in another country are an added value that others can benefit from. Sharing this knowledge will create valuable links with your colleagues and allow you to feel perfectly comfortable with them. You will probably develop some good friendships leading to a busy social life outside work.

In general, being attentive, respecting differences in culture, religion and customs, as well as being able to interpret certain behaviour and gestures in this new environment will allow for successful integration. To highlight the difficulties of integration in a foreign company, the illustrator Anne-Laure Delva has created a comic strip series called “Les aventaures de Jade, l’apprentie expat”, available on Les Echos website (French only).

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