German Business Culture

A guest article by our partner

Every day across the globe, the world of business spirals forward at a dizzying rate. Work is getting done almost everywhere, but how this work is getting done can vary a great deal.

There are several reasons for the disparity in how businesses operate, a principal one being cultural difference. This may sound like an insignificant factor to bear in mind, but, if you want to integrate well into the office, quickly befriend your colleagues and show respect for the working space, you best brush up on the relevant office etiquette.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

As many people would already assume, due to the stereotypes about German people, Germans rise and shine much earlier than Southern Europeans. It is not unusual to arrive at the office at 7am in the morning. This might sound like a bit of a difficult start, but it is made worth it by the possibility of clocking out around 3pm and catching some hours of daylight before you go home. Lunch breaks are typically shorter than what the French or Spanish might be used to. Efficiency is the word; German workers prefer to get up earlier and take fewer breaks in order to get out of the office quicker after a condensed, productive day. And don’t forget, punctuality is crucial!

Remain Formal

The office is primarily a place for work, and so, in a German mentality, there is no need to make friends. Of course, you can be cheerful and courteous with your colleagues, but the average German will not go out of his way to establish a friendship outside of the company building. You should always address coworkers with the formal “Sie” until they invite you to use “Du”, and do not be offended if you never reach this stage. You don’t have to worry about wasting time with office small talk and even less about receiving any contact from colleagues whilst on your days off. An employee’s privacy and family time is always respected.


Teamwork is very well organised in Germany. You are much less likely to end up with that typical bunch of people in which one does all the work, one miraculously disappears until the due date, and the rest just bicker. This is because managers delegate tasks within the team, rather than the team itself dividing up work, so that each member feels valued and gets on with their work independently. Everyone feels a sense of responsibility and projects are generally executed efficiently. 

Take Sick Days 

If you are feeling a bit under the weather, don’t think that you need to battle through a day at the office. It is very common to take a day off when you are not feeling your best as Germans prefer to rest immediately and nip the unease in the bud so that they can return to work the next day feeling fresh. It is also nice to know that you will not regularly have to deal with colleagues sniffing relentlessly next to you and potentially passing on their germs.


As made clear in the first point, Germans do not appreciate time wasting, so they are highly unlikely to beat around the bush when giving you feedback. They will tell you exactly how they feel about a project, without filters. You should see this frankness as a positive trait, you do not have to feel uncomfortable about finding a way to bring up a certain topic; if there is an issue, or an idea with which you disagree, you do not have to be shy about being vocal. Of course, there is a difference between being direct and acting down-right rude, do not overstep the line. 

So, as you might have already guessed from Germany’s prosperous employment rate (which hit an all time high in 2019), Germany is a great country to work in. The business culture is reserved, sensible, and highly effective. Bear in mind these 5 points when integrating into a German office and you will soon be regarded as a polite, responsible, and trustworthy part of the team! If you’re looking for ideas on work prospects in Germany, why not apply for a free career consultation with us? Or, if you already know you are ready to make the move, find the best job offers in Germany here