Work is part of everyday life – it’s a place where people spend most of their time in today’s society. Sometimes, heading to work can be pretty exciting but, other times it can be stressful or overwhelming. To avoid that and to make things easier for employees, it’s important to create a relaxing environment.
Working days and habits can vary from job to job, person to person and country to country. There are different kinds of workplace and office rituals that are practiced around the world. These rituals help people ease their minds during working hours to gain more energy for their upcoming duties and obligations at work. By getting to know different workplace rituals you’re getting a chance to learn more about cultures around the world. So, sit back in your chair and get ready for a trip around the world to get introduced to different workplace rituals that you maybe weren’t aware of.
What are Workplace and Office Rituals?
Team building’s purpose at work is to create good communication and trust between co-workers. When this is established, there’s better productivity and engagement in the workplace. Unfortunately, this is not something that happens overnight and by a one-time event. It takes time and it’s build-up little by little over time. Team buildings are more likely to be perceived as ‘a fun day’ that happens a few times a year. To create more productive teams and co-workers you’ll need more than a team-building. There needs to be a constant process of building good communication and productivity among employees. Workplace and office rituals are a perfect way for that.
So, what exactly are workplace and office rituals and why are they important? Simply put, it’s a way of creating routines, habits and rituals that help build or support a team’s culture at the workplace. These rituals are a great tool that has the power to bring people together, relax them and give them a sense of belonging, purpose and values while they deliver a good performance. More importantly, rituals can help create a bond among co-workers, or make group cohesion stronger. They also help in creating a sense of identity.
It’s important to remember that rituals should be as inclusive as possible so that they can be effective and ensure that every person takes part. Before creating these rituals some things that should be considered are – is there something that everyone enjoys participating in? What are the company’s values and which rituals have an impact on the overall company’s culture?
When it comes to work and business culture, Dutch people prefer a culture that is individualistic and participative. In the Netherlands, managers advocate for the autonomy and independence of their staff and employees. Dutch organizations tend to encourage equality and they focus more on the well-being of their employees. When it comes to communication with the staff, Dutch people have a forthright and direct approach which helps them get things done quickly. They pay less attention to facial expressions and body language. Most Dutch companies are aware of a need for a work-life balance. That’s why they have a flexible system of working hours which helps them make effective use of their employee resources.
In Dutch culture, one of the most important rituals is birthdays. Even birthdays of friends and family members are kept track of, so it’s quite normal to congratulate your colleague a birthday of their family member, eg. their mother. There’s an expression in the Dutch language – ‘gezelligheid’ which represents a domestic model of social fulfillment and a relaxing environment that can be also connected to work and a need for work-life balance.
Sweden is well-known for its short working hours. In Sweden, only around 1% of workers work more than 50 hours a week. The reason for that is because this country is trying to balance life and work. Working overtime is not valued and it’s usually seen as a sign of bad time management and poor planning.
Generally speaking, there’s an impact of losing social context at work created by office spaces. Coffee areas and coffee breaks give you a chance to interact with your co-workers, to engage in a social activity that will have an impact on your mood making you more relaxed and happier. We all know coffee is a delicious drink that most people enjoy, but it’s a special thing to have a cup of coffee at work so that you can boost your energy and make yourself more productive. There are some countries in which this office ritual is more practiced than in others – one of them is Sweden for sure.
Swedish people take their coffee breaks seriously. Snack and coffee breaks are encouraged in Swedish business culture because it’s thought that a proper amount of rest and break increases workers’ productivity. Coffee breaks in Sweden are called fika and these breaks allow workers to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and to relax with their co-workers. They usually have a chat while making their long-awaited cup of coffee. Swedish people have more than 3 cups a day. Making your delicious cup of coffee during fika is easier than ever because nowadays there are lots of bean to cup coffee machines that provide you with coffee pleasure for you and your colleagues at your workplace.
Finland is a country that offers high standards to its citizens when it comes to daily life or work. This is because Finland’s important and big topic is work-life balance. This country advocates for gender equality which is strongly emphasized – there’s a high participation rate both of women and men at work at different job positions. Finland also offers the most flexible working schedules in the world, a luxury where many companies allow workers to adapt their working hours.
One of the fun things about Finland’s business culture is that the affinity for saunas has become part of their work culture. People of Finland take saunas seriously. Most businesses around the world meet up in places such as bars, restaurants, or the company’s meeting rooms, but not Finns. Saunas are completely different for them and their business culture. Having a negotiation while in a hot bath in a sauna is a common thing to happen to you if you’re a businessman.
The affinity for saunas and this kind of practice happens so often that many companies have adapted their offices for this. Meaning, companies are usually located near a spa or wellness center which offer sauna. Or, in a more luxurious scenario a sauna is brought to the workplace. Some larger businesses are provided with office saunas where managers and employees can discuss some relevant business topics while they’re getting rid of work’s stress by sweating. This is practiced because it’s thought that by sweating your mind is more relaxed and is open for new ideas and creativity. If you get a chance to talk with some Finnish businessmen they’ll certainly tell you that saunas are the key to successful business negotiations.
India and Morocco
The business culture of these two countries is very similar – both of these countries are authoritarian but also quite collaborative. At the workplace, a priority is good team cooperation over group cohesion. These two countries differ on priorities and security. In Morocco, a priority is given to procedures or organizations, while in India problems are being solved only when they become unavoidable, without too much planning and preparing for them. Companies in Morocco, prefer a short-term approach which provides them with rapid results, whereas in India companies prefer long-term investments.
In India, there’s a religious business ceremony known as puja (a prayer ceremony) and if you refuse to take part in puja it would be considered rude. There’s also a ritual which is done on special occasions (eg. Ayudha Puja) where people of India show their respect to tools of the trade (eg. computers) with a special religious business ceremony.
Indian works tend to complain about their colleagues to their bosses. As for lunch breaks, tiffin wallahs usually deliver lunch to workers, sometimes traveling for miles and miles in a day.
In Morocco, companies are closed on Fridays between 11:15 am and 3 pm because this time is dedicated to praying. Dress code is important for business in Morocco, and many Moroccans form their first impressions of you based on how you’re dressed. Men usually wear dark-colored suits at work, while women must ensure that they dress conservatively with arms and knees covered. Also, they should avoid wearing excessive makeup, accessories, and jewelry.
One of the most important characteristics of the USA’s business culture is the respect and importance of employees’ opinions and the decision-making process. Apart from that, autonomy and independence are highly valued in this country. The communication and interaction between employees on different hierarchical levels are quite easy because office managers make themselves accessible.
Morning and daily rituals that most people do include: checking emails (sometimes even before their first cup of coffee), attending meetings, and catching up with colleagues. Most American workers don’t have a regular break for lunch instead, they just grab a bite at their desk. For those who are lucky enough to have a proper lunch break, this is a long-awaited time of the day. Lunch breaks are a great chance to socialize and have a chat with your co-workers.
After a long and busy day, the majority of American workers hit the gym since they spend most of their day sitting in front of computer screens. Apart from that, workplace exercise is pretty common and that may include some light weight lifting or a bit of gentle running upstairs. Some companies even provide their workers with luxuries such as a gym or some other recreational activities (eg. pool, table football). Socializing is important as a part of daily routine in American business culture, and the goal of these activities allows workers to engage more in social activities.
Employees’ health is taken seriously in Japan – they even have an opportunity to work out during work hours. There’s an exercise regime known as ‘Radio Taiso’ which usually lasts no more than 15 minutes and it’s practiced while people in the office are working. The reason why this exercise is called that is because of the music which is played on the radio during the workout. This music is even played on Japan’s national radio during the day.
This concern about health is not related only to workers. Students in Japan are also encouraged to take a short break (usually 15 minutes) and to work out alongside the music. This exercise regime is usually practiced early in the morning to prevent any problems or potential breaks during working hours. This activity reduces workers’ stress, increases morale and sense of belonging in the workplace.
In Japan, work is taken very seriously and unfortunately, some workers take it a bit too far than expected. Believe it or not, there’s even a term in Japanese for dying from doing too much work – karoshi. This tendency usually harms workers’ productivity, because when you’re overworked you’re not efficient at the workplace. Many workers who take things too far, fall asleep during working hours which is considered as a sign of dedication and taking an extra step to finish the business. Also, taking a nap at the workplace may increase their productivity and boost their energy in a busy and stressful environment. But office managers should always have on mind that there are also workers who pretend they’re asleep to picture themselves as dedicated workers.
Workplace and office rituals and routines differ around the world. Some of them may seem strange and impractical because their culture is different than the one you’re used to, but the truth is that they all serve a purpose. If you consider all the countries mentioned above and their routines, you can say they all have one thing in common – they’re doing their best to create a relaxing and friendly environment for their workers. They want to encourage their workers to feel accepted and to show them someone’s taking care of them. Work ethic is different in every country and culture, but the main goal and wish for all businessmen is to be successful and profitable while creating something worthwhile.