The work culture in Phnom Penh

work culture
Updated 2019-11-04 08:36

Learning the customs of a new work environment can be difficult, especially if you are doing it in a new country. It is important to be aware of cultural differences in the workplace to avoid any misunderstandings. Understanding the expectations of your employers will help you to be a better employee. In this article, we break down what you might expect from the working environment in Phnom Penh as an expat, including work attire, customs, and etiquette.

Proper etiquette in the workplace tends to depend on what your profession is. Working in business is completely different from working as a teacher. In general, working in Phnom Penh is very relaxed compared to other countries.

The dress code in Phnom Penh

One of the most popular jobs for expats also happens to be one of the most relaxed: teaching. The work environment and workplace etiquette depend on your school as there is a wide range of options for teaching in the city. For the most part, there is a very lenient dress code. The better you dress, the more you are respected by your students and higher-ups, but it is generally not required.

For other jobs where you don't deal with people daily, such as developers, the workplace environment is similar. This is especially true in jobs that are headquartered overseas. While formalwear is more respectable, casual wear is acceptable.

While many jobs in the country are fairly casual, business jobs, especially Cambodian-owned ones, are much more formal. You are expected to wear a suit and tie, and it is not uncommon for employees to bow to their bosses or higher-ups.

Saving face

In all jobs, many foreigners run into issues due to Khmer employees not wanting to "lose face". If you ask them to do something, and they don't understand, instead of telling you they don't understand, they will smile and nod in order to save face. It can be frustrating, but it is part of the culture. If you need to clarify things with a colleague, do so in private and talk in a calm and respectful tone.

Holidays in Phnom Penh

Most Khmer people take holidays very seriously. As a result, you will often have time off for every public holiday. In some jobs, this is still paid, but that is not very common. Cambodia actually has the largest number of public holidays in any Asian countries. There are 28 public holidays, which range from one day to three days off. If a holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, then you tend to get either Friday or Monday off as well.

Phnom Penh is an exciting city with a thriving economy and work environment. With the rapid growth in the economy, more and more people will be moving to Phnom Penh, and there will be more jobs available. Right now is the most exciting time to move to Phnom Penh for work. Knowing the workplace customs will help you know what to expect and help you to ease into your transition.

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