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How Business Practices in Costa Rica Differ from Those in the United States

business practices in costa ricaBusiness, like language, varies from country to country across the world. From common practices to appropriate communication techniques, there are a lot of nuances to take into consideration when working with someone from another area. In some countries, like Japan, silence is valued over constant conversation. In others, like Germany, punctuality is preferred over flexibility. While some differences are vast, others are minor. When it comes to how business practices in Costa Rica differ from those in the United States, the differences are vast.

Costa Rica could not be much more different than the United State. From the landscape to the climate, there aren’t many similarities to be found between the two. However, both countries have growing populations with even faster-growing interests in web-based work and software development. Because of this mutual interest, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a go-to for U.S.-based companies needing nearshore development. Due to this growing interest centered around international business, it is important to understand business practices in Costa Rica and proper business etiquette.

7 Important Business Practices to Remember When Working with Costa Ricans

1. Appointments Are Always Flexible

Costa Ricans are not known for being the strictest of people when it comes to punctuality. Due to their more relaxed approach to time management, business appointments do not always start right on time. In fact, some websites who cover business practices in Costa Rica recommend bringing a book to your next meeting in case you have to wait for an extended amount of time. Due to this approach, business meetings often last longer than scheduled.

2. Consistent Reminders of Meetings Are Necessary

This differentiation between Costa Ricans and Americans stems from the Costa Rican pura vida lifestyle and their flexibility with time. Due to their busy lifestyles, Costa Rican business partners need constant reminders of pre-scheduled meetings. It is recommended to send appointment reminders a week before the meeting then two days prior to the meeting, with a final reminder going out the day of.

3. Put An Emphasis on Small Talk

Most differences between how business is done in the United States and Costa Rica stem from their pura vida lifestyle. While businesspeople in the United States often get straight to the point, Costa Ricans like to take their time. It’s important to emphasize small talk during business meetings with Costa Ricans. Speaking on topics like the weather, general news, or the latest sports scores are completely acceptable and welcome.

4. Networking is Highly Important

When compared to the United States, the population of Costa Rica is small. With only 5 million people in the country, networking plays a huge role in business growth. It’s important to get out there and discuss current business ventures and possible future business endeavors with the community. The small, tight-knit community can open up partnerships and opportunities with fellow businesspeople that may have gone unnoticed without networking. Due to the closeness of the Costa Rican community, and the importance of networking, it is crucial that you keep your comments respectful and your intentions honest.

5. Business Attire is Still Preferred in Professional Settings

Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and lush jungles may lead you to think that casual attire is acceptable throughout the country; however, the opposite is true in a business setting. Despite their laid back lifestyles, Costa Ricans still hold looking professional to high regard. Men are often found in dress pants paired with long sleeve shirts. Most opt for a jacket over a tie, unlike businessmen in the United States. Women’s wardrobe choices vary from business suits to more fanciful dresses, with plenty of accessories, depending on the event.

6. Titles Are Very Important To Costa Ricans

Titles are very important to Costa Ricans, especially those that hold professional or political titles. While professional titles are important to businesspeople in the United States, too, the titles of Costa Ricans differ greatly. Costa Rican men use both their father’s and mother’s names in correspondence, but only use their father’s names when introducing themselves. While businesspeople in the United States often have one surname and are fine with being called by their first name, in Costa Rica one must be invited to refer to the other by their first name. It is even seen as rude to call a Costa Rican by their first name without being invited to do so.

7. Negotiations Will Take Time

Business decisions are expected to take longer in Costa Rica than they are in the United States. This is because business decisions are made between all involved parties within the business which means there is a lot of bureaucracy to navigate. Additionally, because of the close community of networkers, business decisions and negotiations are often made over dinner, in a more relaxed environment, which can stretch out the process.

While Costa Rica is not on the other side of the world, business culture in Costa Rica is quite different when compared to the United States. With the more relaxed approach to time management and decision making, Costa Ricans do business at a slower pace. The close-knit community throughout the country means that there is a personal level to the business whereas there is often a strict line between business and personal life in the United States. Despite the differences, partnerships between businesses in the United States and Costa Rica continue to thrive in web-based work and software development.

At Number8, we connect businesses in the United States looking for development work with nearshore developers based in Costa Rica. We focus on assisting companies with improving their internal IT processes to ensure smoother business for everyone. If you are interested in learning more about what we do at Number8, give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

6 Tips to Help You Nail A Remote Job Interview

remote job interviewIn 2019, more and more companies are hiring remote workers in addition to an in-house team or making the shift to exclusively employing remote workers. With this shift in the hiring process comes a shift in the interviewing process as well. Regardless of how comfortable you are with face-to-face interviews, a remote job interview is a completely different experience.

While being at home can be a comfort, it can also cause you to let your guard down. This can translate to lack of motivation or lack of preparedness in a remote interview environment. There are other factors that should be considered when interviewing remotely that aren’t present at an in-house interview. Some factors include background noise, technical difficulties, and outside distractions. Because the differences between an in-house interview and remote job interview are so vast, we thought you may like some tips to help you nail your next remote job interview.

6 Tips to Help You Nail a Remote Job Interview

1. Prepare Your Interview Area

It is important to look professional during a remote job interview just as you would for an in-house interview. While your clothing would reflect your level of professionalism face-to-face, the area in which you conduct a remote interview reflects that. Be sure your interview area is clean, organized, and does not reflect poorly on you as a potential hire.

It is also important to ensure that you will not have any distractions during your interview. If you have children, try to set up a play date so they are out of the house. If you have neighbors close by, ensure that your home’s windows are closed to prevent a nearby lawn mower from causing a distraction.

2. Dress Appropriately

Despite the fact that you are interviewing from home and may only be visible from the waist up, it is important to dress appropriately for a remote job interview. Getting ready for a remote job interview in the same way you would for an in-house interview will help you get into a professional mindset. More often that not, a confidence boost also comes with getting ready. By dressing appropriately, you also prevent any embarrassment from occurring should you have to get up during your interview.

3. Research Your Potential Employer

An interview, despite the location, works two ways. It’s a chance for your potential employer to learn more about you and it’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company you may one day work for. Research the company’s beginnings, recent news surrounding the company, and the person who is going to be interviewing you. By having some knowledge of the company on hand, you will look well prepared and interested in your potential employer. This knowledge will also make conversation around the company flow more naturally.

4. Take Care to Prepare Your Computer

There is nothing worse than being late to a remote interview or having your computer crash mid-interview. Prior to your interview be sure that you’ve downloaded and done a trial run of the interviewing software. Set the window that you will be viewing your potential employers through at the top of your screen, centered under your webcam. This positioning helps to give the impression that you are making eye contact with your potential employer instead of looking down throughout the interview. Ensure there are no programs running in the background that could cause your computer to lag and that all your chat features are turned off, so no pop-ups appear during your interview.

5. Prepare Your Own Questions

As we stated in our third tip, a job interview is every bit a chance for you to learn more about your potential employer as it is for them to learn more about you. Come into your interview with a prepared list of questions. These questions may revolve around why the company is looking for remote work, what benefits they offer to their remote employees, and how they will work with you to ensure you’re trained correctly for the job while working out of office. You can also ask questions surrounding how many employees currently work remotely for your potential employer, what sort of tools they use to promote collaboration between in-house and remote team members, and if there are potential group meetings or team building experiences that you should expect to be a part of.

6. Explain Your Motivation for Wanting to Work Remotely

For a lot of people, working from home seems like an easy way to get work done without having to do much work; however, remote work is quite the opposite. Not being in a designated work environment can make it harder to stay focused and on-task. It is important to make it clear to your potential employer that you are a motivated individual who is prepared to successfully work remotely. Perhaps you want to work remotely because you need a more flexible schedule. Perhaps you’re the type of person who works better in an area away from office distractions.

Whatever the reason, it is important to explain your motivation from wanting to work remotely. Do not treat it as the elephant in the room. Instead, tackle it early on and own it fully. Confidence and honesty will help potential employer see that you’re serious and would be an asset to the company.

Remote interviews can be intimidating, like in-house interviews, which is why it is so important to prepare for them. By following our six tips above, you should be off to a strong start during your next remote job interview. In the end, confidence and preparedness are the two most important factors to nailing a job interview. With these six tips, we hope you’ll be more prepared and more confident about interviewing from a remote location.

At Number8, we know quite a bit about hiring remotely with our nearshore location in San Jose, Costa Rica. With over 18 years of experience in the field of software development, our experience spans across many sectors. We commit to recruiting and hiring IT professionals who show immense talent and developers with vast experience. Learn more about who we are and see what job opportunities we currently have available.

How to Approach Project Management the Agile Way

An agile approach to project management has become prolific within many industries ranging from software development, construction and even marketing. Approaching a project the agile way ensures the product meets the client’s needs in a timely manner. The agile method also specifically makes room for improvements along the way rather than at the end when a lot of effort has already gone into the finished product. The result is often a shorter development cycle and quicker product release.  

However, an agile project manager’s duties differ from that of a traditional one’s. While the typical project manager is tasked with communication and quality control and manages the scope, cost, risk and personnel, many of these responsibilities are spread throughout the team in an agile workforce. 

Agile encourages team members to determine how to best achieve their tasks, report on their progress and determine their own schedule. Instead of a project manager, teams evaluate their own time and cost as they move through their work. Project goals are set by what is called a “product owner” and an agile project manager is referred to as a “scrum master.” 

The scrum master (or agile project manager) deals with problems as they arise and handles interruptions so his or her team can focus on the work at hand. This often comes in the form of facilitating meetings and discussions, removing progress blockers and setting priorities.

While traditional project management dictates a detailed master plan that must be followed, the agile way aims to determine the requirements as the project progresses. For this reason, an agile project manager tends to only be utilized in particularly larger complex projects. 

When approaching project management through the agile mindset, one must:

Be Flexible

Agile is built to incorporate regular feedback, updates and changes in requirements. While it’s important to understand the end goal and overall scope of a project from the start, an agile project has many cycles to it’s completion. Therefore, an agile project manager must be flexible enough to work with what is thrown their way rather than adhere to an unchangeable itinerary. 

Prioritize Client Satisfaction

At the end of the day, project management has always been done in the name of customer service. This is perhaps exemplified in the agile model as a project manager is in constant flux when it comes to meeting a client’s ever changing needs. It’s important therefore to remember that the end goal is to ultimately satisfy the client even if it’s at cost to the original plan.

Embrace Meetings

Coordinating with team members, stakeholders and clients still remains a large part of an agile project manager’s role. The agile methodology embraces daily meetings often called “scrums” where everyone participates in team transparency. During these scrums, everyone shares what they accomplished the day before as well as what they are working on that day. These are brief workflow updates and can even be done standing up. If not done in person, video conferences are another way of establishing accountability. 

Be Prepared to Problem Solve

Central to an agile project manager’s responsibilities is the ability to quickly adapt and correct course when need be. Continuous improvement ultimately saves valuable resources by reducing the risk of a larger scale failure in the end.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at(502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

5 Programming Languages for Beginners

There are so many programming languages in the tech industry, that for the average layman it can be overwhelming. Generally speaking, these languages are how we communicate tasks to a computer. They’re a tool to help computers quickly and efficiently process data no matter how large or complex it may be.

As technology evolves, so do it’s languages. Whether you’re looking for someone who can code or are interested in learning yourself, starting with a basic understanding of the languages used to code is important in order to stay up to date with most relevant methods of programming. 

For beginners, it’s best to focus on languages that inherently teach basic computer science concepts. Languages that are dynamic and don’t have any strict rules on how they have to be written tend to be the most suitable for those just beginning to dip their toes into the world of coding. 

Here to help you get started, are 5 programming languages we recommend for beginners:

1. HTML

While HTML is considered the most basic and commonly known language, everyone has to start somewhere. Used to create web pages, HTML is a markup language that defines the structure and layout of various electronic documents. For example, when formatting the content on a website or email, HTML is utilized to ensure that both the text and graphics are displayed correctly. 

2. Python

Perhaps the most popular introductory language, Python is object oriented and used to integrate systems or automate tasks. Known for it’s easy to learn syntax and flexible semantics, Python is a good beginners language because it focuses on readability. It’s a script language that reads like English. With Python, programming is often more manageable because fewer lines of coding are required. 

3. Ruby

Ruby is also an easy to read general purpose scripting language and therefore similar to Python. It features a web application framework called Ruby on Rails that provides some shortcuts. While Ruby is more flexible when compared to Python, it is also less direct and explicit in it’s approach. 

4. JavaScript

JavaScript is a fully compatible scripting language and as such is already built into most web browsers. It’s used to create dynamic and interactive web pages for a more user friendly experience by translating static elements into animations.  JavaScript code also helps load new content without having to reload the entire page and is run on only a browser.

5. Java

Java gets it’s syntax fro C and C++. (While these are more difficult to learn, they do impact most programming languages and as such are also a good way to place to start in order to grasp the basic concepts of multiple coding languages.) Java has it’s own platform and is known for it’s ability to run in any virtual machine or browser. It’s a standalone programming language, and is statically typed; meaning it has more structure than the others listed above and needs to be compiled before it can be executed.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

How to Balance Your Remote Work with Your Personal Life

At first glance, working from home can sound like a dream come true. After all, who doesn’t want to stay in their pajamas, run to the gym in the middle of the day, or sip on a latte while you work from the coffee shop down the street?

However, as you settle in, it can be more and more difficult to prevent your work from bleeding into your personal time. And when the work is on your laptop rather than at your office building, it can be hard to put down. 

When it comes to preventing burnout and creating a healthy separation, it’s all about the habits you create for yourself. Here are 3 tips to help you tow the line for a better work life balance:

1. Create Your Own Workspace

Instead of moving from room to room throughout the day, dedicate a specific space to work in. If you need to get out for a change of pace, go to an internet cafe. This way you don’t find yourself being interrupted if others are in the home with you, or distracted by household chores and the TV. It’s best for example, to leave the bed and the couch off limits. Setting these kinds of physical boundaries will help you enjoy spending time in these spaces more because they won’t be associated with work. 

2. Take the Time to Get Ready

Put the pajamas down. We promise you will feel better and more confident about your work if you dress for the part. Getting ready for work, even when you don’t plan on leaving the house has been proven to help remote workers stay focused. Not to mention, you’ll be less likely to shy away from the last minute video call if you look presentable. 

3. Break up the Day

If you find yourself going all day without ever leaving the room, it’s time to build in some breaks. Segregating chunks of the day by tasks and then setting little rewards for yourself can help you stay productive and meet those all too necessary deadlines. Everyone needs to get outside, move and interact with others in person from time to time.

Additionally, having a somewhat set of office hours can be helpful in making sure that when you’re supposed to be spending time with family, you actually are. While this can be difficult if you’re working with others in a different time zone, it’s imperative to enjoying your down time fully, especially given you don’t have the transition that comes with a commute.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!