Contributing writer: Ricardo Carapeto
Ricardo is the Growth Marketing Team Lead at Talk Agency. Ric is from Portugal and frequents Brazil throughout the year. Among travels, family time, and navigating multiple time zones, Ric also manages two Brazilian-based teams here at Talk.
At Talk, we’ve actually been doing this for a long time, well before mandatory lockdowns had us sitting in three-day-old pyjama bottoms for online meetings. Not to toot our own horn, but our agency has utilised remote work from its infancy – in fact, some of our very first team members were based in Brazil.
Why? Because they were the best candidates for the tasks at hand.
Now, our overseas teams span Brazil, Portugal, and the UK. With a home base on the sunny Central Coast of New South Wales and an incredible team scattered all over the world, it’s safe to say we’ve got this remote work deal figured out.
Something we’re constantly trying to improve upon and dive deeper into, though, is understanding the different cultures in our tight-knit team. This is a significant element of the People & Culture branch of Talk as we strive to embrace diversity and foster strong connections across continents.
In this vein, we sat down with our Growth Marketing Team Lead, Ric. Hailing from Portugal and regularly travelling to Brazil throughout the year, Ric told us about the rich historical influences and unique traditions of these two incredible regions. We also explored the benefits and challenges of working remotely across time zones, and how Ric manages multiple teams from a distance.
Embracing the Diversity of Different Cultures
Sitting down over a Google Meets call, our first topic for Ric was discovering the main differences between Brazilian, Portuguese, and Australian cultures. While we knew the basics like language and of course the vibrant festival traditions, there was so much more we wanted to know. What we found out was that the deep historical roots of Brazil and Portugal shaped their distinct identities and traditions.
“While Australia was once a British colony, Brazil was a Portuguese colony heavily influenced by African cultures,” Ric explained. This early divergence set the stage for a myriad of differences that continue to shape both societies to this day.
Ric pointed out that Australian culture has closer ties to European influences due to its colonial history. On the other hand, Brazil's African heritage has made it a rich melting pot of traditions, spirituality, and religious practices.
“When we talk about cultural differences,” said Ric, “one aspect that stands out is the sort of extroverted nature of the Brazilian people, particularly in the North East region.” We immediately saw this as an interesting contrast to the much more reserved and private nature that many Australias possess, a trait carried down from the stiff upper lip of the English settlers.
Another notable difference is the strong religious presence in Brazil. The country boasts a diverse range of religious practices, with Catholicism being the dominant faith. “Festivals and carnivals are a huge part of Brazilian culture,” said Ric with a smile. “There’s nothing quite like Carnival anywhere else in the world.”
A common thread shared with Australia, however, is Brazil's passion for sports. While each country may excel in different sports, the enthusiasm for physical activity brings them together, and this is something we have no issue bonding over at Talk!
How Do We Foster Cultural Connection at Talk?
As a company that values diversity and inclusivity, Talk actively embraces and celebrates Brazilian and Portuguese culture within our team. To foster camaraderie and build stronger workplace connections, we started online Portuguese language lessons during lunch hours earlier this year.
This initiative not only breaks language barriers but also creates a bridge of understanding between the Australian and remote teams. Ric pointed out that while English is an invaluable skill for the Brazilian team, it’s a great idea for the Australian team to learn a bit of Portuguese to ensure effective communication and collaboration.
We also love filling each other in on different events or holidays happening in each respective location. With a Slack channel dedicated to fun conversations and weekly company-wide calls devoted to catching up ‘outside of work’, we’ve got some great informal ways of sharing our cultures that are especially important for remote work.
Exploring the Tastes of Brazil
When it comes to Brazilian cuisine, there's an abundance of flavours and textures to savour. Ric takes pride in introducing us to two mouthwatering traditional dishes that are beloved by Brazilians.
While Ric is actually from Portugal, his frequent visits to Brazil have shown him a diverse banquet of delicious dishes.
“Moqueca is one of my favourites,” he divulged. “It’s a really rich seafood stew that’s just got everything – fish, shrimp, coconut milk, garlic, great spices – in my opinion, one of the best traditional Brazilian dishes.”
Originating from Angola, a former Portuguese colony, the vibrant flavours in Moqueca reflect the rich cultural heritage of Brazil's North East region.
Another must-try from Ric is Feijoada, a heart black bean and pork stew. “This one is a true Brazilian classic,” smiled Ric. “You’ve got a really warming black bean stew with different cuts of pork, really great flavours, and served with farofa. It’s one of my comfort foods.”
Both Moqueca and Feijoada are dishes deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of Brazil, with their origins traced back to the vibrant North East region, known for its culinary excellence and rich artistic heritage.
Brazilian Festivals and Traditions
The Dazzling Display of Carnival
When it comes to festivals, Carnival is undoubtedly the biggest celebration in Brazil. This world-famous event draws millions of visitors from across the globe to partake in the mesmerising festivities. Ric said that unless you’ve been there, even on the fringes, you simply can’t conceptualise the scale and feel of this greatest party in the world.
“Just picture endless parades, really loud music, dance, elaborate costumes…it’s like a spectacle,” said Ric. “I don’t know anywhere else in the world that has this sort of thing, at this scale. It’s hard to fully describe.”
The Carnival spirit engulfs the entire nation, with cities like Rio de Janeiro and Salvador being the epicenters of these extravagant spectacles. It transcends social boundaries and brings people together in a riotous celebration of life. It’s a time when the streets come alive with revelry, locals and tourists alike let loose, and those who prefer the quiet should invest in some good quality earbuds (a hot tip from Ric).
St. John the Baptist: A Rural Celebration
In addition to Carnival, St. John the Baptist is another significant festival celebrated in Brazil. On the 24th of June, people from rural areas come together to commemorate this joyous occasion.
Ric told us that St. John's Day is marked by fabulous festivities, with music, dance, and colourful costumes adorning the streets. This rural celebration showcases the rich diversity of Brazilian traditions, with each region offering its unique spin on the festivities.
While Carnival takes centre stage in urban areas, St. John the Baptist's festival gives us a glimpse of the cultural tapestry woven across Brazil's vast landscape.
Working Across Time Zones: Challenges and Benefits
Moving back into work mode, we asked Ric about the pros and cons of working in and managing overseason teams. As Talk Agency's Brazilian team works with a time zone difference, remote collaboration presents its unique set of challenges and benefits.
“Working remotely for an Australian company requires adaptability and flexibility, particularly when it comes to managing different time zones between Brazil and Australia,” said Ric. Flipping days and nights allows Ric to spend more quality time with family, but it can be tiring. “It’s just getting used to a different body clock,” Ric assured, “but it’s definitely an adjustment, and one probably not suited to everyone.”
The Warmth of Team Collaboration
Despite the distance, Talk Agency's warm culture and strong sense of community remain intact. The team in Brazil deeply appreciates the Australian team's respect for their work and time (and vice-versa), creating a nurturing and supportive environment.
While traditional on-site work interactions are missed, the transition to remote collaboration has been remarkably smooth and rewarding. The team's commitment to maintaining a close-knit community contributes to the company's overall success.
Expanding Our Talent Pool: Insights for Companies
One of the biggest benefits of opening up remote work possibilities is expanding a company’s talent pool. “You’ve suddenly got infinitely more options,” said Ric, “and you can hone in on who the best person is for that job rather than who can access an office.”
Expanding a company's talent pool to overseas locations requires strategic planning and consideration. Effective communication and the right tools are paramount for successful remote collaboration.
To ensure seamless collaboration, we’ve focused on hiring local leadership in Brazil for our Brazilian teams. Having a leader like Ric who understands the language, habits, and cultural nuances of his immediate teammates helps bridge the gap and fosters a more cohesive work dynamic.
The Bottom Line: Work to Understand Cultural Differences
As our global reach expands, embracing cultural differences is crucial for maintaining a harmonious work environment. Understanding and respecting each other's cultures promotes effective communication and a sense of camaraderie.
Being mindful of language translations and cultural nuances ensures that the message is conveyed accurately, leaving no room for misunderstandings. Initiatives like language lessons help not only to bridge cultural gaps but also deepen our respect for one another – a little effort goes a long way. Just as you’d try to learn a bit of the local language when travelling overseas, cross-cultural teams should strive to learn and appreciate each other’s customs for a successful work environment.
The journey from the Central Coast to Brazil to Portugal has broadened horizons, nurtured friendships, and ignited a sense of curiosity and understanding within the Talk team. As we continue to embrace the richness of our many cultures, we’re pleased to say that we’re well on the way to a truly united and culturally diverse team.
Keen to read more? Check out some great insights from our People & Culture lead, Gen, about how to boost cross-company and cross-cultural connections in your workplace!