Working in: The Netherlands
So you found yourself a new job. A job abroad no less, congratulations! And welcome to The Netherlands. Don’t worry about all the things you’ll have to learn in this strange, flat rainy little country you now find yourself in. We’re here to help you find your way. There are some things you may wonder soon after moving here. Why is everyone so tall? Why are there so many bicycles? Will it ever actually stop raining?! While I cannot actually answer these questions for you, well, regarding the last one, yes it will eventually stop raining, I can give you some tips to get settled in here.
First of all, we all speak English. Set aside your lofty goals of learning our language within three months. It will never happen. We simply refuse to speak Dutch to someone who’s not comfortable with the language. While there have been tales of expats who eventually learned our language, no one can confirm whether this is based on fact. On the other hand, Dutch people will often ask you what certain expressions are in your native language. They will then repeat this and use it as a greeting every morning. It may become a little tiresome, but don’t worry, we mean well.
I briefly told you about all the bicycles right? Well, The Netherlands is a notoriously flat country. Combine that with the fact we like to live close to work, we all take our bikes to work if at all possible. Not only is it a healthy way to get around, it will also help you avoid the awful traffic. Did I mention the traffic? Take it from someone who is stuck in it five days a week. Buy a bicycle, you will not be disappointed. If there really is no other way and, like me, you are forced to slowly creep towards your office in a slow moving line of cars. Try to start work early, traffic usually doesn’t pick up until around 8 AM. Oh, and install an app that tracks speed camera’s, your wallet will thank you later.
Of course you’ve come here to work and what you are really after, is office etiquette. First of all, the power distance between management and staff in The Netherlands is relatively low. Disagree with your boss? Chances are you can tell him outright, in the middle of the morning meeting. Be diplomatic about it, and offer an alternative, but don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Second of all, know your crowd. Not all bosses are the same, and if your particular boss is an authoritative figure, I cannot be held accountable for any yelling that may come your way after you’ve confidently defied your boss in your first ever meeting with him. I know, I know, you also want to know about habits like drinking coffee. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. In The Netherlands one person offers to get coffee and proceeds to bring coffee for all takers back to their respective desks. Where Italians see taking coffee as a social experience to be enjoyed standing at a table and conversing about the events of the days. The Dutch usually sip their coffee behind their desk, while carrying on working.
I’m confident the above will at least give you a start in your journey to conquer The Netherlands, professionally speaking. If you’re still unsure on some things, our team of consultants can surely help you out. They are, after all, only a quick phone call away.
Now go get ‘em!