Australia is known to be a very relaxed nation. People live by „Don’t worry, mate, you’ll be right!“ and I remember very well how I did not only have to get used to a new country and culture, but also to a very different workplace atmosphere – and office etiquette. Although hard work is respected, and expected, especially in media, jokes, small talk and a few other things are important to know. Here are 5 tips on etiquette in the Australian workplace:
1. Joking around is an important part of communication
The biggest surprise for me after moving here from Germany was breaking down some of the barriers when it comes to language and colloquialisms. You don’t just joke with your mates and friends, you joke with your colleagues and boss too. And in my case, that was a lot. Thankfully, Australians have a great sense of humour and I’ve found they love it when you show that you’re a little bit human. So if you can laugh at your own mistakes and give as good as you get, you’ll be embraced into both professional and social life.
2. Everyone is [always] keen for a coffee
Everyone will meet you for a coffee in Sydney (and Melbourne), even if they have no intention of doing business with you. You do catch-ups with your team, your boss and clients over coffee. Everyone in Sydney loves coffee so much – and so do I, so I don’t have a problem with that at all. I am a coffee snob like most Sydneysiders are. I have not been to many other places in the world where you can get such beautifully brewed cups of goodness. Australia’s coffee culture is ridiculous. And so good. So it’s almost mandatory to try a few coffee places around the office, until you find your favourite one that you keep going to and the barista know your name, coffee order and probably even the time of the day you usually drop in to get your daily dose of caffeine.
3. Happy Fridays!
Everyone I’ve met in the expat community always goes on about the better work-life balance over here, and it is normal to complain about long hours – or shorten the Friday work day by starting to drink with your colleagues at work or the pub nearby. Pub lunches are a common thing – as we all know, alcohol plays a big part in the Australian culture – and drinking with your colleagues is absolutely normal. I remember, when I started my first job in Sydney, my company had a big conference on (it was my third day at work) and my team got very drunk. I was very much trying to be the sensitive “new” (maybe too German) person and it took me a few more work events to realise that it is absolutely fine to have one or two too many drinks with your team. At least if you have an amazing boss like i did 🙂
4. F*** Swear Words
Profanity has a natural place in the Australian vocabulary. It’s regularly used at the office to express frustration, used to exaggerate for effect, or for humour. I have even heard the f-bomb drop by senior people plenty of times. Bloody oath, there’s a lot of swearing going on.
5. Shoes are optional
It’s perfectly acceptable to go to the shops or walking around your local area in thongs. Women generally keep their shoes (heels) at work and go to work or leave work in thongs or trainers (and in active wear) – which is perfect for active and “I’m-not-wearing-heels-unless-I-really-have-to” people like me. Love it!