The work environment in Lisbon

Understanding the work environment
Updated 2023-11-05 17:48

Congratulations! You moved to Lisbon, and you've also landed your first job in the Portuguese capital. Whether you're taking your first steps as a digital nomad, a TEFL teacher, or an office worker, your first day might bring some excitement and anxiety… There's no need to be nervous, though! We are here to guide you through the Portuguese working environment.

Working hours in Lisbon

Unlike most places in Europe like the UK or Germany, most workers are expected to do unpaid overtime – it is very unlikely for employees to clock out at 6 or 7 pm sharp. Unfortunately, most Portuguese employers see that as laziness and lack of commitment. As such, you are expected to stay a little longer than your official finishing time to show you are actually doing some work, even if you aren't doing anything productive at all! That is particularly true for office workers like accountants, HR officers and personal assistants or secretaries. Most people would never leave before their superiors for the same reason – if they are staying longer, you should too.

Dress code in Lisbon

What you wear for work has, of course, a lot to do with your job and work environment. Generally speaking, the workspace tends to be fairly conservative with smart casual attire. Men are expected to wear trousers and shirts — maybe even a suit and tie, depending on the line of work – and women should be equally formal, with shirts and blouses or a dress (below the knee) and tights. Jewelry should not be excessive, and tattoos should stay covered, especially if working face-to-face with customers (such as in hotels, restaurants, bars and shops). Needless to say, impeccable personal hygiene is expected too: manicure and pedicure for women; trimmed beard and hair for men. And yes, it gets too hot in the summer. Don't forget to always keep a spare travel-sized deodorant!

Punctuality in Lisbon

Once again, Portugal's roots differ quite a lot from other European countries up north. In most cases, punctuality for work is a demand from a superior (who might not follow that demand themselves!), although a 5/10-minute delay due to traffic is acceptable but frowned upon. Prepare for those types of mishaps, as an explanation for your delay will likely be required.

However, things tend not to be as strict for office workers. On the other hand, for jobs in hospitality, call centers, bars and restaurants, bosses are usually quite demanding with the work schedule. However, do not expect the same level of (in)tolerance if you try to clock out at the official end of your shift.

Holidays and paid time off in Lisbon

Portugal is a traditionally Catholic country, so expect a good deal of national holidays, with many of them referring to religious traditions most people don't even observe anymore. Currently, accounting for the municipal ones, Portuguese workers enjoy 14 public holidays. Furthermore, it is also customary for some companies to close down for 1 or 2 weeks in August and/or for the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. However, those days will be discounted from your annual paid time off, which currently stands at a minimum of 22 days per year. However, some companies are currently offering more days in a bid to attract talent.

After-work hangouts in Lisbon

Traditionally, family comes first in Portuguese culture, so colleagues with families will rarely commit to an after-work pint. In fact, work relationships don't usually mix with leisure after working hours: Portuguese colleagues might get together for their lunch or coffee breaks, but nothing more personal than that. Once they are out of the office, it's family and friends time.

Hope you have a wonderful time in your new job!

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