Dos and Don’ts of Working in Germany

Do’s and Don’ts of Working in Germany

Setting foot in a foreign land comes with thrills, fears, and adventures. And when you’re looking for a long time career in a country like Germany, it makes sense to not just get acquainted with its cultural setting but also understand ethics and behaviors that are publicly acceptable. These will also help you avoid mistakes that could make you look naive and unprofessional. 

Coming from an Indian cultural setting, you may find the German culture on a more sophisticated and punctual side as opposed to the Indian culture of procrastination and last-minute changes to the plans. So get ready to create a checklist of things that you must give special attention to and things that you should ignore because these are the things that will help you lay a solid foundation of a strong career in Germany. We list some workplace etiquette and practical, real-life hacks to help you make the most out of your time abroad. So let us begin:


  1. Learn some German vocabulary

Learning the native language of a place is something that will help you get through your first few days. Even if your job doesn’t require you to speak German or learn German, learning a few things initially will help you go a long way.

Reading the board signs, answering and asking a few common questions in the German language will make your stint better. If not advanced, learn at least the basic vocabulary that will make things like grocery shopping easy for you. Words like du, Sie, and sie, and learning how to tell time are a few basic things that you must know! These things will increase your overall experience and help you make friends too!

  1. Be Punctual

Germany’s work efficiency and punctuality is not just a hit in the air. Germany is really known for its extremely staunch work ethics and punctuality towards work. Meetings happen at the exact times they have been decided. So make sure you get yourself to that level of adaptability and punctuality to match with their levels. Don’t cancel plans, and stay organized. They do not expect you to show up late at work or beyond a time that you have indicated. Try to set your watch ahead of time. 

Plan early, and in case there is a real emergency call up to explain your reason. Though it would be a little tough deal with in the beginning you’ll get a hang of it and find how good that is for you and for your career growth. 

  1. Become more detail-oriented 

Germans plan everything ahead of time. You can expect proposals, projects, as well as the typical work to be segregated and scrutinized in detail. You can’t have any way to slip your way through a task or an assignment. Be well prepared to give instances to your arguments and evidence to support your claim. What you propose should be backed by a foolproof plan and an active matrix. The bottom line, you can’t sugarcoat and convince your authorities. 

  1. Show respect to everyone you meet

Treating everyone, even your juniors with respect is considered a sign of humility and respect. 

Germans are humble and have a tendency to maintain order and efficiency. Diplomas, Titles, certifications are taken with concern in Germany. Hence, each and every employee or worker is dealt with great respect. Hierarchies are also important, therefore you must address your superiors with a formal pronoun or title unless explicitly stated.

  1. Go for handshakes instead of hugs.

Formal presentations and get-together in Germany align with the cultural and corporate professional preferences too. Hugs can be considered too friendly or necessary informal functions or work outings. Hence it is wiser to keep it till handshakes. A workplace etiquette requires you to maintain a balanced physical space. Greeting people with a firm and quick handshake followed by a little nod of respect is enough. Handshakes are preferred both at the end as well as at the beginning of the meeting. 

  1. Look good

Germans follow a very simple dress code for Workplace. They expect you to have a conservative attire as a dress devoid of unnecessary and outlandish accessories, extra vibrant colors, and heavy makeup. Though there are rules that apply from company to company, a clean set up of light and dark is preferable.

Presentation is another important criterion in Germany, hence stay away from sloppy and casual attires. 

  1. Keep the grocery shopping handy

The efficiency of German workplaces is not just an outcome of workplace strictness. People follow rules even outside of their workplaces, in other areas of life. The most notable is the grocery shopping. At grocery shopping, take a shopping bag with you and weigh your buyings beforehand rather than making the clerk wait and look for loose change. Keep your money in-hand. Most importantly don’t leave your grocery shopping on Sundays. Do it whenever you get time.

  1. Understand and get used to public transportation

Public transportation is your most frequent form of transportation when you work abroad in Germany. Find a map, get acquainted with various kinds of transportation, while learning how to read the signs. Once you start getting a hang of it, you’ll find your life much easier and enjoyable. 


  1. Don’t be easily offended.

Germans usually prefer very direct and blunt means of communication. So at times, you can expect facing criticisms right on your face. But that is vital and will only help you grow through the organization. You must prefer a very direct and straightforward kind of communication. Don’t be extra and flowery with your language and cut to the chase.

You have to get out of your comfort zone of compliments for a job well done and learn to face some criticism. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get or must give rude remarks on everything. 

  1. Don’t indulge in personal and controversial talks 

Avoid engaging in small and necessary talking with your workers. Germans prefer a very limited and crip form of conversation. Try to stick to important as well as some relevant topics. Also, make sure to keep your private lives away from work. That’s how Germans prefer it. You can talk about informal stuff out of the office or outside work hours. 

  1. Don’t forget lunch etiquettes

As an employee German firm, you can expect frequent lunches and dinners at restaurants. Lunch is more preferable over a meeting, and the one who hosts the meeting pays the bill. 

Whenever you go to a formal office lunch, make sure you don’t take the first bite right away. Wait till the host of the meeting raises a toast or starts eating by saying“Guten appetite.” Don’t avoid or forget to look your co-workers in the eye while you clink glasses, or greet everyone on the table to enjoy their meals in case you are the host. 

  1. Don’t mess up your recycling.

Germans take environmental issues and hence recycling very seriously. So make sure to follow the norms of recycling and take care of environmental cleanliness. In case you litter something or put trash in incorrect bins, you could face a heavy fine. 

Return your plastic bags to the store for reuse. You can also bring empty glass bottles back to where you bought them once you finish the contents. Some stores will charge you extra for the bottle so you can bring them back for a refund. 

  1. Don’t forget to carry cash.

Note that carrying cash while living in Germany is of utmost importance, unlike the Indians who prefer a credit-card or wallet. Not only do some places only accept cash, but it is generally frowned upon to use a credit card for small purchases. In case you forget to carry it, you might have trouble accessing basic services like using public restrooms.

So these are a few basic things that you should keep in mind as you start your career stint in Germany. There will be a number of other things too that you will learn as you stay longer. Though these things would seem overwhelming at first, you will in no time get used to them and feel like home.