Dutch Office Life

Dutch office life – what to expect, expat

Storming off to lunch at 12 pm sharp, running from meeting to meeting and direct communication are part of Dutch working culture. Hey, we just like to be efficient! But what comes natural to the Dutchies, may surprise the non-Dutch colleagues. Here’s a few things that bazzle our international colleagues.

1. Dutch office lunch

Let’s get this topic over and done with. When we asked our expat colleagues about the weirdest Dutch customs at the office, they quickly agreed: the Dutch and their food <insert sad face>.

Come on guys, the Dutch cuisine isn’t exactly a treat to the senses, but who can resist nice boterham met hagelslag? Even Brazilian Lucas admits it’s delicious. We rest our case. Ok, he might have added that despite that, it just doesn’t feel right. Macedonian Andjela is confused about the kokosbrood. Don’t worry Andjela, most Dutch people are too. Also, our lunch is often referred to as second breakfast by our expats. It’s an acquired taste. Let’s just keep it at that.

But good news! Since 2020 we have a warm meal for lunch twice a week. Including vegetarian and vegan options.

dutch office life

2. We value everyone’s opinion

At Emakina, we value everyone’s opinion (even about lunch). Whether you are the CFO or the Business Analyst, we believe everyone’s opinion is important. That’s a typical Dutch thing it appears. It results in quite a few meetings to gather everyone’s opinion and to find a mutual understanding. To outsiders, that may seem inefficient. But once something is decided upon, we get it done quickly. It works out pretty well for us, because guess what? It’s the best way to get everyone on the same page because every Dutch person has an opinion about almost everyone and everything. As Oprah Winfrey would say: “You get an opinion, and you get an opinion, and you get an opinion, and you…”.

3. We keep our private life at home, but love our borrels

There’s a clear wall between our private life and work life. Dutch people come to the office to work. We don’t take a lot of time to chit chat and for small talk (koetjes en kalfjes), but we dive straight into the job at hand. There’s a time and a place for social talk, like team outings and Friday afternoon drinks. We do love our organised social time! Billiards, beers and bitterballen anyone? “Ja, gezellig”, is considered the appropriate answer.

dutch office life

4. Hierarchy smierarchy

Of course we have directors, managers, leads and all the likes at our office. But these men and women do not usually display their power. They are part of the group and they’re there to help and support when necessary. It’s in our DNA to work agile, We run dedicated scrum teams for every project. Teams that share effort and ownership. So everyone has a chance to be heard, craft solutions and make an impact. So it’s not that we don’t care about hierarchy, we just appreciate our ability to take initiative and responsibility at all job levels.

5. The office dress code

No, we don’t wear our famous Dutch clogs to work. So we wouldn’t say anything goes, but an informal dress style is definitely recommended. We probably wouldn’t even want to call it a dress code, because you can wear jeans, a hoodie and sneakers and that’s perfectly fine. If we go to a client’s office, we always check what the dress code is over there. We believe it’s respectful to adjust to their office culture. But at our Dutch Emakina office, almost everything goes. Almost… The verdict isn’t out on wearing flip flops or Crocs to work yet.

As a newbie to Dutch office customs, you may find it a bit confusing at first. But really, don’t worry. We’re excited to give you a smooth introduction period and answer all your questions. So don’t be afraid to apply to one of our vacancies today!

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