The work culture in Jakarta
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Updated 3 weeks ago

As an expat, adapting to a new working environment in a new city can be challenging. In Jakarta, there are some common work culture and business etiquette that employees must follow in their day-to-day working routine. Learning about the local work environment will help you overcome any future hurdles. Find out more about Jakarta's unique work culture to ensure a great working experience while youre in town.

The dress code in Jakarta

Aside from sales and services jobs which require uniforms, most companies in Jakarta will have their own dress code. However, there has been a growing concern with expats showing up to work in T-shirts and jeans. This sort of behavior should be avoided as it's regarded as rude and disrespectful. Unless you work in a laidback working environment with relaxed dress codes, stay on the safe side by wearing conservative, professional attire.

Besides, most companies usually have a batik day, which usually falls on Thursday or Friday. Batik day is enforced to raise people's awareness of this beautiful cultural heritage. It means men must wear a batik shirt and women must wear either a batik blouse or dress to work.

Social status and hierarchy

Much like other Asian cultures, Indonesia places great importance on respecting the social hierarchy in every interaction. Everyone in Indonesia has a status and their own place in society. When you are interacting with Indonesians in the workplace, pay close attention to where they stand in this hierarchy.

It is important to pay more respect to those who stand at the top. It goes without saying that you should respect your superiors and other high-level employees. Aside from that, you must also pay attention to the age of your coworkers. The older they are, the more you should respect them.

You shouldn't call anyone directly by their first names. Don't forget to address everyone with the appropriate honorifics:

Older or senior male: Bapak/Pak
Older or senior female: Ibu/Bu
Similarly aged male: Mas
Similarly aged female: Mbak

To stay on the safe side, stick with "Pak" and "Bu" when addressing people in the workplace. Only use "Mas" and "Mbak" to address people who clearly state that they prefer to be addressed that way.

Show good manners

It is very important to always be polite and show good manners when you work in Jakarta. Showing good manners will maintain a harmonious and supportive work environment. It may even help increase productivity in the workplace.

Employees are expected to be friendly with each other, even if they are not close friends. When you come into the office each morning, don't forget to greet everyone and smile. Whenever you meet your coworkers, give them a smile and a slight nod to acknowledge them.

You should also be a good team player and be willing to help your coworkers when they need assistance. Avoid gossiping and bad-mouthing your coworkers. Doing so will help you avoid unwanted office dramas and help you stay focused on your own tasks.

'Saving face'

Dignity and reputation are fundamental in Indonesia. Pay close attention to how you act so you don't accidentally tarnish someone's reputation in the workplace. This is called saving face, preserving one's reputation in the eyes of others.

While Westerners tend to be brutally honest when it comes to criticism in the workplace, Indonesians tend to beat around the bush. Indonesians always avoid confrontations, preferring to settle conflicts quietly in private. This is how you should act, as well. Avoid openly expressing your displeasure towards your coworkers. Instead, you should remain professional and calmly address your problems in private.

Aside from saving face, you should also practice 'giving face'. This means raising someone's reputation in the eyes of others. It is common practice to give compliments and even brag about your coworker or your business partner to other people. Additionally, when you are being complimented, don't forget to say thank you. Then, reciprocate the compliment to shift away from yourself to and stay humble.

The importance of networking in Jakarta

In Jakarta, who you know is more important than what you know. Building and maintaining good relations is the key to success in Indonesia. It is wise to maintain a wide circle of business partners and connections to increase your reputation in the workplace.

Stay on everyone's good grace. Always act politely and avoid conflicts in the workplace. Maintaining good connections with your coworkers will ensure a smooth sailing working experience. Moreover, networking might even help you climb the social ladder as well as help you get raises and promotions quicker.

Useful link:

Indonesian business etiquette tips

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