Living and working in Australia is a bit of a different ballgame depending on where you come from.
Australian’s enjoy a casual culture and depending on the industry they work in, this easy-going nature may translate over into their working life as well, but it’s important to remember this laidback nature varies wildly from business-to-business and from sector-to-sector.
So do we have a Relaxed Working Culture in Australia?
All Australian business sectors are different, some sectors experience more relaxed working cultures such as hospitality and retail, even media and digital marketing companies, while others are ‘strictly professional’ such as law, finance and accounting.
Media and marketing companies throughout Australia enjoy some of the most laid-back work cultures around, with ‘casual dress Fridays’, coffee-breaks, perks such as gaming stations, pool tables, gym memberships and more.
It’s important to keep mind that while such perks do create a more friendly and communal casual work vibe throughout the office, the staff of these companies are usually expected to work hard for such extra conveniences.
When it comes to white collar, professional jobs such as law, finance and accounting however, employees need to leave their easy-going nature at the door, these sorts of whirlwind professional arenas see them engaging with all manner of individuals, many of which who are experts and seasoned professionals in their own right who would not take kindly to a laid-back lawyer or accountant taking their time while charging in 10 minute increments.
Professional business environments in Australia usually require very conservative outfits. Generally Australian business people shy away from flashy suits (we leave that to the Americans).
You can’t go wrong with a dark suit and tie and a white shirt. If you aren’t sure how strict your workplace dress policy is, it’s best to over-dress rather than come across as too casual. Save yourself future confusion and just go and ask the HR department or the relevant person for a copy of the dress code.
Work hours in Australia vary and are undergoing much change making it really hard to nail down concretely.
For those with full-time jobs in white collar professions the work-day still usually lasts from 8:30am or 9:00am to 5:00pm or 5:30pm. But overtime is creeping up and up in all professions.
As at November 2014, the average Aussie worker was toiling away doing an extra 6 hours of unpaid work each week according to The Australia Institute think-tank. "Whether they realise it or not Australians are far more generous to their employer than they are to any charity”, said Richard Deniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute.
A large part of the blame lies with 24/7 interconnectivity which doesn’t allow employees to ‘switch off’ at the end of the work day, demanding they’re available to client’s and/or employers at a whim, as well as the creeping in US attitude towards work which promotes “living to work”, while denigrating those who’d prefer to “work to live”. This attitude is slowly being imposed top-down throughout many Australian companies, with small to medium businesses slowly jumping on the bandwagon to stay competitive.
With casualization of the work force well under-way, unemployment climbing, offshoring, automation and free trade agreements all the rage, the actual time spent working on the job (not considering the unacknowledged & unpaid rising ‘work for labour’ epidemic sweeping the country) is growing for Australian employees throughout most industries, from unskilled straight through to high-end professional.
If you are keen to work in Australia, you should do your research first and talk to people in the loop for some honest advice and tips on getting a foot into your industry of choice within the country before you take the plunge.