Across the globe, working is a big part of most people’s lives. While we can all relate to the daily grind, depending on where you are in the world, your attitude and approach to work is impacted hugely by the cultures within your country.

In some cultures, it is seen as honourable to be devoted to your employer, while others focus on a balance between working and personal time. So how do different cultures around the world approach work?

The working week

Around the world, the length of the working week varies dramatically. While European nations tend to prefer shorter working weeks, in Asian and American countries there is a culture for putting in more hours.

Using data from the International Labour Organization, the graphic below shows how the average working week varies around the world, and the nations who put in the most time at work:

How the average working week varies around the world, image via RS Components

As the image shows, there is a striking difference in what constitutes a standard working week around the world, with people in the Netherlands working an average of 22 hours fewer than their counterparts in Nepal.

Aside from the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand are the two countries with the shortest average working week, with one company in New Zealand having recently trialled a four-day working week.

How religion impacts on work

If you live in a Western and predominantly Christian country, you’ll be used to working Monday-Friday, with Sunday traditionally a day of rest to celebrate the Sabbath. In other countries religion also impacts upon work as well.

The working week in Israel runs from Sunday-Thursday, and is structured this way for the Jewish holy day of Shabbat, which runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

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During Shabbat, Jewish people traditionally refrain from all types of physical work, including driving, although many don’t follow these rules quite this strictly.

Religion is also highly important in Islamic countries, with the working day often scheduled around prayer time. This is the case for workers in the United Arab Emirates, whose working day is also shortened by 2-3 hours during Ramadan.

Respect and traditions

Working cultures around the world are also affected by a country’s traditions and customs, such as the siesta in Mediterranean countries. Sweden also has regular breaks in the day based on cultural traditions known as fika, where Swedes relax over coffee and pastries to encourage friendship and improve performance at work.

Work and law

While some working cultures are based on tradition, others are set by law. TheRight to Disconnect law means that professionals in France do not have a responsibility to answer emails that arrive after working hours.

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Iceland has progressive laws regarding parental leave, with both parents receiving 3 months’ leave to look after their newborn together. An additional three months are then given to share between the parents, both of whom earn 80 percent of their salary while on leave too.

With differing customs, religions and laws, working cultures vary dramatically around the world.

Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash