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The work culture in Amsterdam


While you may be used to a work to live mentality, especially if you come from the US corporate world, you may be in for a shock when you start working in Amsterdam. Here, employees have more of a live to work mentality and also enjoy their time off immensely.

Good to know:

By law, your employer is required to pay you a holiday allowance that’s equal to 8% of your gross yearly wage. This should give you a good idea of what the work culture is like in the Netherlands.

Work-life balance in Amsterdam

Fortunately for you, the work-life balance in Amsterdam is usually very good, meaning you will get good pay without having to work extensive hours. In fact, you may sign on for 40-hour weeks but may end up working only four days a week and/or taking a few days to work from home.

Management will also treat you with respect and trust. If you have something important coming up during the workday, such as a dentist appointment or an important delivery you need to be home for, you can ask for some time off to accommodate those things. They will let you take care of business and will trust that you’ll make up that time and work later.

The professional dress code in Amsterdam

How you dress for work depends entirely on what industry you’re in. Obviously, if you are in healthcare, you should show up to your job in scrubs or the appropriate uniform. But if you are working for a startup in Amsterdam, they may not care too much about what you wear, so long as you look presentable.

A safe bet to go with is smart casual, as you can stay comfortable while looking sharp. A good idea is while at your interview, ask what the dress code is like so you don’t feel out of place on your first day of work. You should also take a look at what other people are wearing while you’re walking through the office so you can get a good idea of what the workplace dress code is like.

The workplace environment in Amsterdam

The Dutch are incredibly casual in their workplaces, especially in startups. While there are official titles and tiers for each employee, it’s common for everyone to be treated as equals. It is common for C-level executives to regularly converse and exchange ideas in one-to-one meetings with their employees, regardless of what role they hold in the company.

Many companies in Amsterdam are hugely international, so chances are, you won’t be the only expat in the workplace. This should make you feel more comfortable about speaking English. Although some of your Dutch colleagues may converse with one another in Dutch, they will almost always switch to English if they are in a group setting.



After-work borrels in Amsterdam

The Dutch love to have “borrels”, which are casual events where workers get together for a drink or two. Workplace relationships are important, so most companies have after-work borrels every Friday. This entails having drinks and some borrelhapjes (deep-fried snacks) either in the office or at an off-site location.

Team building in Amsterdam

Team building is also another aspect businesses in Amsterdam emphasise. Sometimes, it can be as simple as the marketing team spending an afternoon in a meeting room playing icebreaker games. Or it can be as grandiose as the entire office taking a trip to Barcelona for the weekend.

Either way, you can count on your HR department to be proactive about putting together fun activities that will help you get to know your coworkers.