illustration of two women greeting


Known as ‘la bise’, professionals in Belgium traditionally greet each other with a trio of air kisses once a formal relationship is established. Whilst there is no known reason for the three over the traditional two, as seen across France and Europe, it was the Romans who popularised this tradition. They had several words to describe the act of kissing, including ‘basium’, used for a kiss signifying courtesy or politeness, which is the root of the phrase ‘la bise’.

illustration of a woman eating a slice of cake


Fika is the opportunity to step away from work, to relax, where you can enjoy a coffee and a snack with your colleagues, and Swedish workplaces believe that taking this time away improves productivity. Many places of work set aside formal Fika hours of 10am and 3pm, it’s a great chance to take a break, improve connections with your workmates and reduce working pressures.  

illustration of a man having a nap


The longstanding tradition of the siesta continues to be a part of many Spanish worker’s daily routines. Many people in Spain work 40-hour weeks or more, however, this is spread out over a longer period of time. The afternoon siesta helps to keep workers out of the searing midday heat in the summer months, helping to maintain energy levels and productivity for the remainder of the working day.

illustration of a mother and father with their child


In Iceland, new parents both receive three months of parental leave each, with an additional three months available to share at 80% pay. Any stress of returning to work very early due to financial issues is absolved and in turn can improve employee morale, lower turnover of staff and improve talent recruitment.

illustration of two people in a sauna


Sometimes meetings can get you a little hot headed and make you break out into a sweat. In Finland, those two things are the norm for some business meetings. Company meetings in Finland are at times held in saunas, and occasionally naked (same sex meetings). It’s an honorary custom and it’s considered rude to turn down the opportunity, so make sure to pack a towel. Regular sauna visits can help de-stress employees and cure common ailments like asthma and joint pain.

illustration of two men having a drink

         South Korea

Considered central to building successful business relationships, alcohol is seen as a way of removing falsity which allows people to connect at a deeper, more meaningful level. Most commonly a glass of Korean Soju (rice liquor) will be consumed during these drinking sessions and many see it as a great way to alleviate stress and to build lasting relationships.

illustration of three women stretching


Working hours in Japan are often considered extreme to the rest of the world but employees take great pride in their commitment to overtime and dedication to their work. Radio Taiso is the morning exercise ritual that’s blasted out on the airwaves each morning across Japan. The 10-minute show is the cue for many across the country to exercise, helping them to feel refreshed and connected.

Business transformation 

As the workplace continues to change it is those businesses that can transform their ways of working to improve the productivity, sustainability and cost efficiency of their organisation that stand to reap the greatest rewards. With this comes a requirement to recognise the human aspect of transformation, in particular employee welfare and satisfaction. Through identifying and fostering positive culture and customs, organisations can further benefit from improved staff morale and ultimately greater talent retention. 

Find out more about business transformation here 

illustration of food delivery via bicycle


Dabbawala literally translates to, ‘one who carries a box’ and for nearly 200 years it has been feeding Indian office workers. People powered, made at home that morning and delivered by hand straight to the office, it continues to be one of the most reliable and punctual lunchbox distribution and return systems anywhere in the world. With tight schedules and minimal time for lunch, Dabbawala offers workers a quick lunchtime solution, taking a little pressure off their day. 

illustration of a woman brushing her teeth


In South America, the Brazilians are passionate about cleanliness and hygiene. Bringing your toothbrush and toothpaste to work is totally normal so that you can freshen up after lunch. For Brazilians, it’s not unusual to brush their teeth at least four times a day, so if you are to follow this custom, don’t forget to check your shirt for rogue toothpaste!

illustration of a mobile phone being used


One of the irritations of the digital age is that you’re never truly unreachable. Many of us feel the need to pick up our phone, outside of office hours, and reply to work emails. Employment law passed in 2016 states that employees have ‘the right to disconnect’, so nobody is required to respond to emails out of hours, helping them avoid becoming overworked and to alleviate work-related stress.

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