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Unique workplace customs around the world

What workplace tradition is the norm in Stockholm, Sweden? Image: Getty

Few things can enrich your cultural and professional awareness like working abroad. Embracing long held practises which are the norm internationally can be a great way to foster positive connections with your overseas colleagues.

Office solutions firm Brother has identified ten fascinating workplace customs from around the world that range from company meetings in a Sauna, to the longstanding siesta tradition.

Bruges, Belgium. Grote Markt square at sunrise. Image: Getty


Professionals in Belgium will traditionally greet each other with a trio of air kisses know as ‘la bise’.  Whilst there is no known reason for three over the traditional two seen elsewhere in Europe, it was the Romans who popularised this tradition.


Sometimes a stressful meeting might make you break out into a bit of a sweat. In Finland, this is just another day at the office as company meetings are occasionally held in saunas. An honorary custom, it’s considered rude to turn down the opportunity, so make sure to pack a towel.

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. Shoppers and stalls at Kinari bazaar. The Jama Masjid mosque in the background dates from 1648. Image: Getty


Dabbawala literally translates to, ‘one who carries a box’ and for nearly 200 years it has been feeding Indian office workers. With a tight schedule and minimal time for lunch, this delivery service provides a fast and convenient solution.


Fika is the opportunity to step away from work, where you can enjoy a coffee and a snack with your colleagues. Many places of work set aside formal hours for Fika at 10am and 3pm, allowing employees a chance to unwind and forge positive connections with their colleagues. 

South Korea:

Drinking in the workplace could well be frowned upon in many places of work. In South Korea however, alcohol is seen as a way of removing falsity and allows for people to connect at a deeper, more meaningful level. The drink of choice is known as Korean Soju (rice liquor) and is also a way to and is considered key to building lasting relationships. 

View of Rio de Janeiro at dusk. Image: Getty


In South America, the Brazilians are passionate about cleanliness and hygiene. Arriving at work with your toothbrush & toothpaste is commonplace so that you can have a freshen up after lunch. It’s not unusual those who follow this custom to brush their teeth at least 4 times a day.


The traditional siesta is one of the most notable aspects of Spanish life. With many people working 40-hour weeks or more, and the temperature following suit, the afternoon siesta helps workers out of the searing midday heat in the summer months. This helps maintain energy levels for the rest of the day and ensures continued productivity.  


Japan is known to have some of the longest working hours in the world, so it can be difficult to find enough time to stay fit. Radio Tasio is a morning exercise show broadcasted each morning across Japan. This is the cue for many across the country to exercise, helping them feel refreshed and connected. 

Eiffel Tower and the Paris skyline at sunset, France. Image: Getty


With the rise of smart phones, we are never truly unreachable, and many of us will check in and reply to our emails out of hours. Employment laws passed in France in 2016 state that employees have ‘the right to disconnect’, by switching off from work completely with no obligation to reply to any emails. 


Iceland’s parental leave legislation helps mitigate the financial worries associated with new parents taking leave. This is thanks to three months parental leave for each parent, with a further there months available to share at 80 per cent pay. This has led to improved employee morale and lower turnover of staff.

As a member of the multinational Brother Group, Brother UK is a supplier of technology solutions, helping businesses deliver greater productivity and efficiency through documentation, digitisation, collaboration and mobile work solutions.