I grew up in a household where I was taught about workplace practices and etiquette pretty vehemently. My first job at 22 was at a digital production company. I remember my mother telling me to abandon my loose t-shirts, replace my chappals with heels, and my casual approach to life with some ladylike mannerisms. But I happened to join the company on a Friday ﹘ which, incidentally, was their drinking and games night.
“Am I actually allowed to chug beer at work? With my COLLEAGUES? What is happening?! Should I loosen up or just fake it and tell them that I don’t drink?”
Yes, my mind over processed the situation and thought that this was HR’s way of testing me when it was actually all about team bonding. It was the company’s way of building trust and credibility among the employees.
Integrating a strong organisational culture truly means bringing in practices that are beneficial for employees.
While some of these practices may be weird and unacceptable in some parts of the world, they are considered to be essential for a business to succeed in others. Read on to know if your organisation is already practicing some of these at work! If they aren’t, sharing this article with your HR might be a great idea!
8 Unique Workplace Cultures Across The Globe
1. Napping At Work- Japan
Japan has a practice called ‘Inemuri’, which literally translates to ‘sleeping on the job’, or ‘being present while sleeping’. The idea is that it’s totally alright and socially acceptable to take a nap at work, or anywhere.
The Japanese are one of the most overworked and underslept people in the world, with an average of 6 hours and 22 minutes of sleep on weekdays. Nestle in Japan even opened a ‘Nescafe Sleeping Cafe’ for its employees in the office. The idea of Inemuri took off post the economic boom of the country in the 60s,70s, and 80s. And has continued since then.
One of my workplaces also had cozy corners with cushions and pillows specifically for the purpose of napping. No, I wasn’t overworked, but I enjoyed the perks anyway!
2. Business Meetings In The Sauna- Finland
A sauna is one of the many gifts that Finland offered to this world. The Finns love pampering themselves in it at least once a week. By moving a business relationship into the sauna, they intend to make their clients or employees feel that they want to get to know them in a more informal environment.
In Finnish-style saunas, it is customary to be naked, which at first may seem uncomfortable and intimidating. But the deeper meaning is that once everyone is stripped of their clothes, the conversations in a meeting can be honest and frank, since everyone is now equal. Great motive, but kaafi adventurous move!
3. ‘Chai-Sutta’ Brainstorming Sessions- India
You’re probably reading this article while you’re sipping on some chai with your work buddy. Not to mention that we’re truly missing our chai-sutta breaks in the parking lot, where most of our ideas got approved. Those brainstorming sessions are nothing in comparison to what one discusses inside a cubicle.
This informal break allows employees to connect with each other personally as well as professionally, thus building a healthy workplace environment.
4. Siesta Hours At Work- Spain
This one, in my personal opinion, can be truly effective if introduced in Indian workplaces. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, the government of Spain is practicing the siesta culture.
Basically, a siesta is a break in the mid-afternoon, usually for about three hours.
Still heavily practised, Spanish workers begin their diurnal jobs at around 8:30 AM and continue working till 1:30 PM. They then take a siesta break till 5 PM and resume work after that, which goes on till 8 PM.
People in Spain still have a 40-hour workweek, but this work is spread out across a longer expanse of time. Smaller towns and cities in India also have a siesta culture. My uncle, belonging to a small town called Durgapur in West Bengal, shuts shop and returns home for lunch and a quick nap. Tell us in the comments if this happens in your town too!
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5. Socialising With Booze- Korea, US, Europe
It is a norm in South Korea to drink with colleagues post-work or during office meetings. Korean business people often feel that drinking with a partner or client is a way of building trust. They believe that alcohol strips away any falsity and allows all of the people in the company to get to know each other on a deeper level.
This is also practiced in the US, as well as in some European organisations and informal workplaces in India. Drinking alcohol at work with colleagues ensures an increase in the recruitment and retention rate of employees, enhances problem-solving abilities and builds trust and respect.
However, this is totally dependent on the quantity of alcohol one consumes, and whether the employee’s system can take it. There are cases of bad conduct in the workplace post consumption of alcohol too, so the managers and HR need to keep a check on that.
6. The Right To Disconnect- France
We’re always working indefinitely, juggling office emails while cooking and keeping plans with friends on hold to spend those extra hours finishing last-minute work. But not in France.
The government of France made a very important law in 2016.
The Right to Disconnect allows people to log off from work, and states that it is not compulsory for employees to respond to emails that come after work hours.
Can I shift to France, please?
P.S: Ireland has been trying to impose the right to disconnect policy in the post-pandemic world too.
7. Cleaning Your Own Office- Japan
The Japanese believe in leaving a place cleaner than they found it. Regardless of one’s position in the organisation, one can pick up the garbage and sweep the floor in their workplace. There’s no concept of getting a sweeper on board to pick up your trash.
This unusual yet thoughtful eco-conscious practice is a great way of taking responsibility for your own garbage. It can also be easily implemented in Indian workspaces. When employees know that they need to clean up their own garbage, imagine how little of it they will generate!
8. A 4-Day Work Week- Iceland
Iceland tried a 4-day work week as a trial recently, and needless to say, it was an overwhelming success. Workers felt less stressed, burnouts significantly reduced, and work-life balance improved. Icelanders got more time to spend with their families, engage in hobbies, and finish household chores.
Japan follows the same trend, and some companies in India have joined the bandwagon as well. However, labour codes state that employees need to finish a minimum of 48 hours of work per week, so the 4-day work week may not be sacrosanct as the former rule.
Workplaces in every country have some unique practices that set them apart. While I can totally imagine how blissful it will be to get to nap or drink at work or log off on time without having to reply to messages post-work hours, I can only dream of it as of now.
But it is interesting to know that the world has some weird and wacky workplace norms for its employees. How many of these workplace cultures or practices have you come across? Tell us in the comments below!
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