People meet at a table and work on their tablets
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The Dutch work culture

Last updated: 4/9/2024, 3:45 PM
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If you are going to work in the Netherlands, you will be introduced to Dutch work culture. This may be different from what you are used to. Read more about it on this page.

Important to know if you are going to work in the Netherlands

The Dutch work culture is generally informal, organised, direct and involves a good work/life balance.

Below you can read what each term means:


Dutch workplaces tend to be informal. It is not unusual to ask questions of a supervisor or manager, and all opinions are welcome. The Dutch consider equality very important, even between management, supervisors and employees.


Working in the Netherlands often follows clear plans and agreements. In the Netherlands, people also like to say, "a deal is a deal". This means that agreements are important. If you make work agreements, your colleagues and manager expect you to keep them.

If you fail to keep to an agreement, discuss this with colleagues. For example, let them know on time if you are going to be late. Or if you are too busy to finish your tasks. Often a supervisor likes to know, so that you can come up with a solution together.


People speak very directly in the Netherlands. This can come across as unkind. However, it is usually not meant to be unkind. It is simply a means to communicate clearly. Therefore, do not be alarmed if someone asks a direct question.

If a colleague asks, "Have you finished your work yet?" or "Are you okay?", that colleague expects a direct and honest answer so that they can help you. Or so they have the information needed to do their own work well.

Work/life balance

The Dutch keep work and home life separate. Outside working hours, people (usually) no longer answer emails or phone calls. Except when it is a really important matter. You can discuss this with your supervisor.

A standard working week in the Netherlands consists of a maximum of 5 working days. Many people choose to work less than 5 days. Then you have more time for yourself or family. The contract with your employer states how many hours you work per week, and which days you work. Then you know how much time you have left for your personal life.

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