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Austrian Business Etiquette: What To Know

February 03, 2022
Unbeknownst to many, Austria is among the wealthiest countries in the world. It has a strong economy, a stable job market, and most residents here are able to live comfortably. Though there are many factors as to why Austria is well off, one can't ignore Austria's business world either. With so many prominent companies emerging here, it's no wonder more and more people are wanting to work with the Austrians. If you intend to do the same, you'd do well to know and adhere to their business etiquette. This can make or break your business here!

Austrian Business Etiquette: What To Know

Respect The Hierarchy

In Austria's corporate world, the boss is king! The business hierarchy matters a lot here. Just how much, you might wonder? It's to the point that the senior management can make all the decisions while the subordinates have little to no say at all. And in business meetings, those with the most seniority are given utmost priority and respect, almost to the point that the other lower-level employees are practically non-existent. This may all sound unfair, but this organized structure is what has always worked in Austria and the quicker you understand this, the better.

Use The Correct Titles

As far as social customs in Austria are concerned, greeting people properly goes a long way. In the country's business world, this often means that you should address others with their proper titles. Whether they're professors, doctors, and the like, it's always respectful to refer to others with their formal titles. And you should never call someone by their first name unless they've allowed you to do so too. At times, even those who are close to each other don't call themselves by their given names while at work. The proper way to go about it is to simply address them as Frau (Mr.) and Herr (Mrs.) and use their last names.

Austrian Business Etiquette: What To Know

Never Arrive Late

Just like with the Germans, punctuality is very important to the Austrians. Never, under any circumstances, arrive late to work, a business meeting, and the like when they're involved. Though they often allow a grace period of a couple of minutes, even then, they still consider it rather rude. At times, even if your excuse is pretty valid and reasonable, it still won't leave a good impression if you're late. So as much as possible, always arrive on time. For very important meetings, arriving five or ten minutes early will be more helpful. And if you can help it, always let the others know that you'll be late beforehand.

Formalize Your Emails

Emails hold a lot more weight in Austria's corporate world than you probably realize. You might have gotten used to sending informal, one/two-liner emails when you were working in other countries but here in Austria and for Austrians, you'll need to change that. When sending an email, be it an invitation to a business meeting or a concern at work, it should always have a formal tone. Not to mention addressing the recipients with the right titles too. This is the only way to get Austrians to work with you properly and eye-to-eye. Don't ever forget this when you decide to work in in the country!

Austrian Business Etiquette: What To Know

Get Ready to Compromise

When you work with Austrians, get ready to compromise. Think what you want about them as a people, but when it comes to important business, the Austrians can be pretty headstrong. However, they're not too headstrong that they no longer consider the different opinions, ideas, and suggestions of their colleagues and clients. In business meetings in Austria, more often than not, the end-goal is a compromise. Even though the most senior employees have the most say in the matter, the final decision is only reached when everyone is in full agreement. It's sort of similar to how the Dutch always reach a consensus when they do business too.

Stick To The Dress Code

Austrians are a pretty conservative people and this rings true when it comes to business matters as well. When you go to the office, to a business meeting, and the like, they expect you to be dressed appropriately. Following their strict dress code will never fail and, in fact, might even help you leave a good impression. For men, it's all about the dark-toned suits with a white shirt underneath. While for the women, pantsuits and conservative dresses with elegant accessories are the way to go. Avoid loud colors and bright prints if you want to be taken seriously!

Austrian Business Etiquette: What To Know

Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Despite how conservative and reserved they are, a healthy work-life balance is still pretty important to the Austrians. When it's time to work, work hard, and when it's time to go back to your luxury home and relax, simply relax. You won't earn any extra points if you work beyond the time and your means. In fact, working overtime isn't praiseworthy in Austria. On the contrary, they regard working overtime as a result of poor time management. And when you're off the clock and outside the office, particularly during social gatherings, it's relatively rude to talk about work. That's the way it goes here in Austria.

Give Out Business Cards

Giving out business cards is actually a common practice among the Austrians. In fact, during first introductions and meetings, handing out your own will help others remember who you are in the future. However, there's always a proper time and place for them. During business meetings, for instance, you only hand them out before it officially starts. In social gatherings, however, you have to do it at the right time. Remember that Austrians prefer not to talk about work outside of the office. It's up to you to slip your business card in the conversation and hope it'll be well-received. Though you'll have better chances if part of your business card is written in German.

Austrian Business Etiquette: What To Know

If you ever want to do business with the Austrians, you'll have to work the way they do. Following and adhering to Austrian business etiquette is the first step to working well with one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

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