20 Indonesian Work Culture – Characteristics

In Indonesia, there are several common work culture that most employees or workers follow through on their day to day working routine. The work culture expects the employees to behave and talk in a particular way for a purpose. Below are 20 Indonesian Work Culture. By reading all the work culture, it might be easier to understand how employees behave in Indonesia and the reason behind it all.

Read more:

1. Addressing Superiors

In any workplace in Indonesia, it’s very important to address your superiors by using the appropriate titles. You have to call them with Bapak which means Sir or Ibu which means Ma’am. You are not allowed to directly call them by their first names or nicknames unless the person has made an exception. This is to show politeness and respect. Most of all, it also shows seniority.

2. Making Leaders Happy

Usually, the subordinate workers don’t question what their boss or seniors asks for them to do. The subordinate workers would follow through with the request without any talk back. The reason for this is because they want to make their leaders happy by doing what they want.

Also read: Social Etiquette in Indonesia

3. Avoiding Conflict

Workers in Indonesia try as much as possible to avoid any sorts of conflicts. This attitude is tied with the Indonesian culture of maintaining peace. Workers would also like to have peace and harmony in their workplace. They do not like confrontation so they often try to keep conversations at a friendly tone in order to avoid triggering disagreements.

4. Co-workers Become Friends

Unlike in other countries where there is a definite line between being a co-worker and a friend, Indonesia blurs this line. In Indonesia, a co-worker in a workplace could also be a friend who knows everything about you. Whereas in other countries it would seem a bit intrusive and rude to ask personal questions, the co-workers in Indonesia don’t see a problem with it.


5. Private Criticism

Keeping criticism as a private manner is a preferred work culture in Indonesia. The workers like it better when any criticism is told directly and privately to them instead of blasting them in a public setting. This culture protects the pride of the workers. It’s a way of saving face because reputation is very important in Indonesia’s workplace. Nobody likes to the feeling of being embarrassed publicly.

6. Greeting the Most Senior First

The hierarchy system is still very strong in many workplace in Indonesia. This is especially true in big and well known companies. When you’re a subordinate worker, it’s very crucial to know who’s the most senior or eldest of them all. It’s seen as a good behaviour to greet the most senior first. The senior can also use this as a boosting point since it shows their status in the company as well as the society.

Also read: Indonesian Family Values

7. Avoiding Loud Noise

It is advised for workers to lower their volume when talking with each other. Talking or laughing loudly may annoy the other workers who need to concentrate on their work. This distraction may cause a worker to be late in handing in their work because they couldn’t fully focus on a task assigned to them. Loud noise also give workers the impression that you are arrogant and boastful. Talking softly is actually seen as a respectful and humble behaviour.

8. Giving Handshake

Giving a handshake is an important aspect when meeting someone for the first time inside of a workplace. The handshake also still applies to workers who already know each other but happen to run each other. The style of handshake in Indonesia might vary between people. The most common one is giving the least pressure while shaking hands. Seniors should also be given the first handshake when meeting inside a group.

Read more:

9. Asking Permission When Borrowing Things

It is sometimes necessary to borrow some things from another co-worker when you don’t have the items but need them to complete a work. Some worker would allow you to borrow their things as long as you ask for permission first. However, it is best not to do so too often as it may look like you are trying to leach off them.

10. Working Attire

Unless the company or the industry has their own set of uniforms for the workers to wear, then the general rule would be to wear a conservative but professional working attire. The men might wear a business suit or a shirt and pants. The same applies for women but they can wear either a skirt or pants. Additionally, they are advised not to wear clothing that are too tight.

Also read: Consumer Buying Habits in Indonesia

11. Entering Room According to Job Title

When there’s a group of several people trying to enter the same room, there is an unwritten rule that the eldest or the one who has the highest job title should enter first. The subordinate workers are expected to understand this and it also leaves a good impression on them because it means they know their place. This is another example of a hierarchical work system in Indonesian work culture. Rank plays an important part even in a situation like this.

12. Indirect Communication

This particular work culture is tied to the culture where Indonesians prefer to avoid conflict. This concept turns most Indonesian workers to be indirect in their communication. They are afraid to say how they truly feel and they usually beat around the bush. The workers expect the person they’re talking with to really know how they feel through the use of their body language, expressions on face or through speaking tones.

13. Working Near Deadline

Procrastination seems to be a work culture that a lot of workers still do. Even though there might already be deadlines set for a particular work or project, some workers may not immediately work on it. They would wait until the last few weeks to the published deadline to start working. This can greatly affect the work performance as it is inefficient especially when there could be many revisions to be done.

14. Showing Gratitude

Showing gratitude in a workplace is a must. Indonesian workers tend to be friendly and understanding. Saying ‘thank you’ after a work has been done is seen as a good manner and it shows gratitude. Even though the end result of the work might not be great, it is still important to appreciate the time and effort put into completing the work.

15. Employee Outings

Many companies and industries usually take their employees to different outings at certain times. These workers are taken to recreational places with the company’s transportations. Moreover, they are often allowed to bring their children with them. This work culture shows how companies try to pay back for what their workers have done to them. It is also another way of strengthening relationships between the workers.

Find out more:

16. Maintaining the Good Reputation of the Workplace

Maintaining the good reputation of the workplace is expected from each and every one of the workers. The companies and industries cannot afford to lose their good name. The slightest tarnish to the reputation of the workplace could ruin them for a long time. Workers or employees must pay attention to their words and behaviours whether they are inside or outside the workplace.

17. Being Professional at All Times

It is a basic and an important work culture to be professional at all times. Workers and employees must be professional no matter what the situation is. They are expected to be a good team member, be friendly to one another and willing to help when someone is in need. Workers and employees are advised to avoid gossiping that could cause troubles. They should focus more on their own work.

18.Arriving on Time

Indonesians are known to be a bit tardy when arriving to places or setting up appointments. However, this is a forbidden behaviour in the workplace. Workers must try as best as they could to arrive on time. It is even better if they could arrive at earlier times than expected. Arriving on time is a work ethic that Indonesians highly appreciate.

Also read:

19. Showing Good Manners

Showing good manners at the workplace will help workers and employees to keep a harmonious environment. A peaceful and harmonious workplace would make them more productive. It would also create a supportive atmosphere. Workers are expected to always be friendly with one another even though they might not be close friends. They should either smile or give a slight nod as acknowledgement when meeting each other.

20. Keeping the Workplace Clean

Even though there might be a janitor or someone else who cleans the workplace, workers also play a part in keeping everything in order. The workers in the workplace should not rely solely on someone else to clean their mess. They should be able to also keep things clean and be responsible for their own mess. It’s a good way of showing respect to the company, by contributing to the cleanliness of the place.

Also read:

Some several companies or industries may have different work culture. But these are the common and basic ones that one could be observed in the workplace. The old hierarchical system may still persists in many companies. On the other hand it might have changed into a more modern structure.