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The labor market in the Euroregion is a dynamic one. The borders between Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are slowly vanishing, and the opportunities that are unfolding as a result are boundless. This is something we as Perfact Group make grateful use of, as we are active in all three countries with a variety of leading companies. In fact, active cross-border work offers wonderful opportunities.

Working across borders greatly increases employment opportunities for our employees. This way, we are not necessarily dependent on Limburg, but can look further afield when deploying a colleague. So with our eastern, western and southern neighbors. Often we then find something that actually fits the content of that particular colleague’s development better than something “at home,” and sometimes even closer to home.

No limits, only thresholds

Sounds good right? Yet it’s not all roses. Differences in culture between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands can present challenges. Language barriers can make communication difficult. Tax implications for cross-border workers and the complexity of public transportation may be perceived as barriers.

Bert Kruger, now employed by Perfact for some 18 years, knows no better than that he is a Dutchman working in Germany. For the past 10 years, he has worked as a Montageleiter (Assembly Manager) for a large chemical company in Cologne. He knows better than anyone else the differences between a Dutch and German workplace. “Perhaps the biggest difference is that in Germany they often prefer to stick to tried and proven systematics,” he explains. “That has its advantages, of course, but the pitfall is that it sometimes makes them a little less open to new innovations. And thus also run the risk of eventually falling behind on new techniques.”

“Furthermore, in everyday language, it is still a matter of being careful who you “Duzt” and who you “Siezt,” although this has become less and less in the past year,” Bert continued. “For example, for the past eight years a project manager here in Cologne could not bear to offer his ‘du’. Of course I think that’s really funny, but I can also appreciate that they make the effort to break their ‘Knigge’.”

Working across borders at Perfact

So how do we deal with such situations? Edwin de Jager, regional manager for Germany, can tell us a bit more about this. Almost every day, he drives from Geleen to Grevenbroich to support our German colleagues there. He has both German and Dutch colleagues on his team. “Practical matters such as travel or tax issues are of course easy to solve,” Edwin says. “What you do notice is that the cultures are very different. Germany, for example, still has a very clear hierarchy in the business world, whereas in the Netherlands we don’t care as much about that.” Do his Dutch colleagues mind though, when working in Germany? “Not really, generally people adapt quickly to their environment. I think we can actually learn a lot from each other this way.”

If we had to mention a serious obstacle, it might be the language barrier. Being able to speak a fair bit of German is helpful if you want to be able to communicate with your colleagues. And how fluent is Berts German? “Despite the fact that German is not my mother tongue, working in Germany has now become my preference,” Bert says. “I catch myself sometimes only knowing the German word for something. Of course, that sometimes raises frowns at home. With technical terms, which you work with every day, it is of course no different.”

“There’s a whole generation that grew up with German television, so for them it’s a breeze,” Edwin says. “Sometimes a colleague doens’t speak German very well and needs to make himself understood with hands, feet and a little English in the beginning. But this gradually picks up. And hey, a little bit of Limburg dialect will also get you a long way!”

Why cross-border working is so important

Through years of experience and accumulation of knowledge, Perfact has developed a methodology that makes working across borders reasonably feasible. The “simplification” of rules and a practical translation make it possible to work smoothly with various regulations, cultures and agencies. We continue to engage with governments, agencies, tax authorities, auditors, but most importantly with employees and clients. We learn from this, and that makes us always ahead of any obstacles.

We consider development and deployment of expertise one of the most important things in our organization. When you don’t break boundaries, you limit yourself, miss opportunities and keep specific knowledge only within a particular project. In case of practical objections, we support where necessary: after all, it would be a shame to deprive a colleague of a cool project because there happens to be no bus to it from his place of residence. In short: borders do not exist when it comes to adding value!

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