Dutch Business Culture: Your Guide Before Your First Day in Your New Office

| Jimble

Have you recently moved to the Netherlands for work, and your first day in the office is just around the corner? Or maybe you’re considering accepting a job offer in the Netherlands or expanding your business there. In any case, the Dutch business culture may differ from what you are used to. Here are some useful tips about the work culture in the Netherlands that will help you adapt and succeed in your career during your relocation.

1. Directness

One thing Dutch people are known for is their directness. Although we want to steer clear of any stereotypes, you should be prepared for your colleagues’ blunt remarks, positive or negative. Dutch people will speak their minds, and you might consider doing the same to avoid miscommunications. Of course, this directness is not a sign of disrespect. It is well-intended and in the spirit of being honest.

2. Informal Communication Style

What goes hand-in-hand with Dutch directness is the informal communication style. You may be surprised to see your manager or even CEO interacting in a friendly manner with the rest of the team. It is also common to refer to your senior colleagues by their first name and the informal “je” in Dutch.

3. Casual Dress Code

Business attire can vary depending on the industry, but if you are not working for the government or a higher business circle, a casual dress code is common for most companies. So don’t be surprised when you see your co-workers in jeans and t-shirts on your first day.

4. Biking to Work

You are probably familiar with the stereotype of Dutch kids learning to ride their bikes before learning how to walk. Although this is an exaggeration, the Dutch are indeed used to riding their bikes almost everywhere. Regardless of the weather, your Dutch co-workers will most likely ride their bikes to work daily, and if you are a fan of a healthy lifestyle, you could also adopt this very Dutch habit.

5. Lunch Breaks

You may also be surprised by how the Dutch have their lunch breaks. Dutch employees usually keep their lunch break very brief, eat light (just a sandwich or a small salad) and may even have their lunch behind their desks. On the other hand, each company may have its own lunch traditions. While on most days the employees will have their sandwiches or salads, sometimes they will order sushi on ‘Sushi Thursdays’ or satay on ‘Satay Fridays’.

6. The Vrijmibo

The ‘vrijdagmiddagborrel’ (good luck pronouncing this) or ‘vrijmibo’ for short translates to ‘Friday afternoon drinks’ and in most Dutch companies it is a must. Dutch people work hard all week, and on Fridays, they can finally shut their computers down early and head out to the office kitchen or bar to enjoy some drinks with their colleagues. Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, when many employees were working remotely, the virtual vrijmibo via Zoom became a thing.

7. No extended working hours

The Netherlands is known for its work-life balance. The Dutch often have structured agendas, and at the end of office hours (usually 5 p.m.), they leave the office in order to be home on time for dinner, go to the gym, hang out with friends, or simply relax at home watching Netflix.

8. Egalitarianism

Overall, Dutch workplaces are often very friendly and welcoming. The Dutch value egalitarianism and often treat and respect everyone equally. They are open-minded to new people and cultures and often value all employees’ ideas during decision-making. There’s a high chance that your co-workers will have advanced English skills and practise the language in international work environments. This point especially makes relocating to and working in the Netherlands one of the smoothest transitions an international employee can experience.

It should be clarified that work culture in the Netherlands can vary for different companies, and over-generalization should be avoided. We have highlighted the typical Dutch habits, which usually surprise our expat clients, but you will always find more interesting and surprising aspects of the Dutch work culture.


Are you relocating to the Netherlands and have more questions? We are here to help! Here at Jimble Destination Services Provider, we offer support at every step of your relocation journey. Contact us to talk to one of our specialists.