Hints on the Australian working culture for confused expats

Published:  31 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Australia, UK, Euro, England
Australia may well share a language with UK and US expats, but its working culture might take some time to understand.

Business ethics in other cultures are often a real challenge for newly-arrived expat professionals, especially when the spoken language is unfamiliar. However, Australia’s strong links with the West and its use of its somewhat unique version of the English language may sound encouraging, but the island continent has its own very individual ways of expressing itself in the workplace.

Long-term expats with experience in the Nordic countries might feel more at home than those fresh off the plane from the UK, as the Aussie mentality resembles that in the northern European lands. Work-life balance is sacred in this outdoor-focused country, as is quality over quantity, education and total wellbeing. Hiding behind emails, backing off from confrontation and difficult conversations and other avoidant techniques are a definite no-go in Australian workplaces, with the direct approach terrifying to new arrivals.

Americans find it harder to adjust to swearing in the office, intra-office romances and Friday afternoon open bars, but Brits regard it as just like home but a lot warmer. Aussies are blessed with an amazing sense of humour, on full display both in the office and on social occasions. Bureaucracy and office hierarchy aren’t in your face as they are in Asia and the West, making doing business a far more pleasant, laid-back experience.

Even so, the business environment tends to be more conservative than its equivalent in many home countries. Hours are longer, but can be far more flexible, and socialising out of office hours is mandatory. The public transport commuting experience isn’t as convenient, but it’s far more polite and respectful. Once in your office, it’s time to brush up on Aussie slang, a unique twist on everyday English as she is spoken!

Family time, mostly spent outside, is incredibly important to Australians, both for enjoying their surroundings and as a reward for their hard slog in the workplace. Businesses close for a week or so around national holidays, simply to give down time to their hard-working employees. Aussies are extremely forward-thinking, preferring to solve problems without asking for help, and they’re more than happy to go the extra mile as regards getting the job done.

Source: The Age
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