If you are planning to establish a career here in Belgium, you need to make necessary preparations. Belgium, being the de facto capital of the European Union, operates in a multilingual and multicultural makeup of business environment. Thus, it is perfect for many foreigners and expats wanting to make business here in Belgium.
Here are the fast facts about the Belgian business culture:
The official languages of Belgian business are German, French, and Dutch. On the other hand, some businesses may use different languages depending on location.
Belgians are known to be stylish. When you engage in business, you need to dress smart and professional. Women should also observe a conservative business attire. Belgians really take appearances seriously so you have to invest in your business attire.
Usually, businesses open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. This is considered the official business hour. Moreover, employees are not allowed to work beyond 38 hours per week or more than eight hours per day. Basically, Belgians value time dearly. Time = money. So if you are late in business appointments, it means you also wasted their money.
Flash a smile when you meet colleagues and business associates. It is also a must to do a firm and swift handshake. Cheek kissing is not common in business. It is usually performed between friends, but not between men.
Business meetings in Belgium are formal. Participants should arrive punctually. In addressing colleagues, formal titles matter. German and Flemish people use English titles like “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, and “Miss”, whereas French use their own titles “Monsieur”, “Madame”, and “Mademoiselle”.
Business structures in Belgium vary greatly. The Flemish business culture follows an egalitarian model. German and Dutch businesses are organized horizontally. On the other hand, Belgian-French culture is structured according to a strict hierarchy. But all of these variations always value teamwork. Belgian businesspeople are always willing to work together.
These are just a few facts about the Belgian business culture. Of course, each organization has their own set of rules different from the others. It is your primary responsibility to learn them so as not to affect the business operations.