7 typical Dutch office habits you need to know before your first day at the office

7 typical Dutch office habits you need to know before your first day at the office

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Will you be working in a Dutch office soon? Just like any other country, the Netherlands has its own office culture; read on for some typical Dutch office habits as explained by Dutch Umbrella Company.

There's plenty to learn about working in an office in the Netherlands and a lot that can catch you off-guard, like all the wet raincoats drying at the office on a rainy day or the extremely short lunch breaks the Dutch take to eat their cheese sandwich. So, before you start your first day at the office, take a minute to learn about these office habits and you'll be well prepared for the weird but cute Dutchies...

(Almost) everyone arrives on a bike

Most of the people in the office will come by bike. Of course, you are in the Netherlands and if there is one true stereotype, it’s that Dutch people do everything on their bike. And yes, also when it’s raining cats and dogs! So, don’t be surprised if you see your new colleagues walking around on their socks because their shoes are drying next to the wet raincoats. Let’s say it gives the office a cosy vibe. A big advantage: no traffic jams or stuck in overfull subways!

Coffee and coffee runs

Coffee is a big thing in Dutch offices. But not because of the amazing coffee machines or -stands. No, the Dutch people love to drink their coffee just black (een zwarte koffie), also when it’s cheap-ass canteen coffee.

The thing is, when you are going to get a coffee yourself, you can’t forget to ask the colleagues who are sitting in your area or at your office island what they would like. And by doing that, take your time for some coffee corner small talk!

Directness of your colleagues

You've probably heard it before or been warned about it, Dutch people are known for their directness. So, expect your new colleagues to make the occasional very direct remark. This could be about your outfit or about the work you've done. Whether positive or negative, the Dutchies will tell you like it is. One thing to remember is that they don't do this to get you down, but more to help you and give you feedback.

The (short-short) lunch break

We couldn’t skip on this one in this office habits list; one of the biggest differences compared to other countries is the Dutch office lunch. Where employees in other countries take all their time for this break, in the Netherlands everyone will be back after half an hour. Or even worse, they just eat their sandwich behind their desk. Also, don’t be surprised if your colleagues already start having this short sandwich lunch at 11:30 am...

Stop working at five or six o'clock

A positive consequence of this short lunch is that you can shut down your computer at 5:00 or 6:00 pm, just like all your colleagues, so you can be back home on time for dinner. Seriously, without any more eating habits jokes, most Dutch people really work between 8:30 am and 6:00 pm.

The vrijmibo

At some companies on Fridays, you can even shut your computer down a bit more early because of the vrijmibo! Vrijmibo is an abbreviation for vrijdagmiddagborrel, it means Friday afternoon drinks. This is the moment to get casual with your colleagues and have fun after a week of working together. Some offices have their own bar or another option can be a bar near the office. Try not to miss out on these vrijmibos, because getting to know your colleagues while drinking some beers is the best way!

Bank holidays

In addition to the standard worldwide bank holidays, the Netherlands has a few of its own. On these days, you probably have a day off and sometimes there will be some attention to them at the office. April 27 is the King's birthday and the office and your colleagues will undoubtedly be dressed and decorated orange. You can expect pepernoten and maybe even a present in your shoe on December 5, because that is when Dutch people celebrate Sinterklaas.

Time to start working

Now that you've read some of the most typical Dutch office habits, you are ready for your first day! So, go grab your bike, put on your raincoat and enjoy the cosiness of the Dutch companies. We can say a lot about the perhaps weird office habits and vibes, but one thing is for sure: the working conditions in Dutch companies are highly rated!

Do you have other office-related questions before starting your first working day in the Netherlands? Contact Dutch Umbrella Company, an IND-certified sponsor with a specialised team offering extensive knowledge and experience to help skilled professionals migrate to, and work in, the Netherlands.



Theo Kruyswijk



Leave a comment

Anne Kathleen 11:58 | 20 May 2021

I've worked in quite a few Dutch offices and none of this rings true to me. At my last job which consisted of lots of different nationalities the Dutch were the least social. 4 o'clock they went home. If any one had a birthday drink at this time they wouldn't attend. I was warned by the agency I first came to NL with that the Dutch keep the office and home totally separate. A Belgian colleague told me that after 10 years in the office he'd never had any social contact outside the office with any of his Dutch colleagues.

elowoman 18:28 | 20 May 2021

I am missing on this review what it is expected at the office for a birthday or a new hire, gift/food related. I am South American and I was shocked to see that in Italy the birthday person is supposed to offer cake/sweets to his or her colleagues, while nothing happened when you were the new person at the office. In my country instead you're expected to offer something as the new hire, but for your birthday, your collegues would prepare something for you. How is it in The Netherlands?