The Global Office: Work Cultures Around the World

Category: Culture, International Business

You may be familiar with the current debate surrounding Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s announcement that those who work from home will need to move back to the office. This statement has sparked debates over not only how long a workday is, but what it should look like and where it should be.

If you want to open up offices internationally, knowing what kind of work culture to expect is an absolute must. Cultural norms fluctuate around the globe in terms of time spent at the office. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • When and where. Work weeks themselves are not always the same. France’s 35-hour workweek, though much criticized and debated, is still in effect, while for many other countries 40 or more hours is the norm. And then there’s the question of when the workweek actually begins. In Israel the workweek begins on Sunday with the weekend falling on Friday and Saturday to more easily observe Shabbat. But, just like with many of these other norms, there is talk that this too might change, giving workers Sundays off and adjusting the weekend accordingly.
  • Teamwork and morale. A long-held tradition in Swedish offices is fika, a formal work break whose purpose is to drink coffee, chat…and, subtly, help build a cohesive team environment (think water-cooler talk in the US). There are usually two to three breaks a day, often at set times. While a casual atmosphere dominates the Swedish office, punctuality is important. Employees arrive to work on time and expect to leave on time.
  • Life outside the office. Sweden also has the most generous paid leave time for new parents. Fathers must take two months of the possible thirteen, though some politicians are advocating for a three month minimum for dads. In other countries paid parental leave varies from 120 days in Brazil to 14 weeks in New Zealand and many African countries.

What cultural work norms have we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Photo Credit: mark sebastian