- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Australia Guide (PDF)
Expats hoping to do business in Australia are sure to find that the friendly yet professional corporate atmosphere of the country provides good opportunities for business dealings. In fact, expats often report that Australia is one of the easiest countries in which to do business.
The approach to management in Australia is consultative, pragmatic and egalitarian. Those in positions of power are given respect because of their interpersonal and decision-making skills, not simply because they happen to be ‘the boss’.
In Australia, all employees tend to be seen as equally important to the collective wellbeing of the group. Everyone is encouraged to share their opinions and ideas regularly, and this egalitarian ethos often leads to colleagues forming close personal bonds with one another.
8.30am or 9.30am to 4.30pm or 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.
The dress code is smart, formal and conservative for men and women.
Gifts are not usually exchanged during business meetings, but if expats are invited to a colleague's home, it's a good idea to take some wine, chocolate or flowers.
Female expats looking to do business in Australia will find that women are generally treated as equals. While female leadership is becoming more commonplace, most high-level jobs are still occupied by men.
Business culture in Australia
The business culture of Australia incorporates British formality and conservatism, the egalitarianism of Scandinavian countries, and the dynamic, innovative approach to business that is generally thought of as American in origin – rounded out with South Pacific warmth and friendliness. While individuals need to be smart, punctual and professional at all times, it is equally vital to show willingness to be 'part of the team', and to interact with colleagues in an engaged, interested and respectful manner.
Business etiquette in Australia further reflects the egalitarian ethos that generally pervade the Australian workplace. Though it's best to use titles initially, one will almost certainly be told to drop them, at which point first names can be used. Maintain eye contact when speaking to associates, as this is regarded as a sign of forthrightness and trustworthiness – qualities which Australian business people tend to favour over showiness, self-aggrandisement or empty promises.
Expats shouldn’t be surprised to hear colleagues talking bluntly and frankly to one another, and should remember that, in Australia, direct communication is valued far more than diplomacy. A good rule of thumb for business etiquette in Australia is to always try and 'get along' and integrate socially.
Business meetings in Australia should be scheduled a week in advance, and then confirmed a few days before they are due to take place. Be punctual, as lateness can be seen as a symptom of flakiness or indifference. Expect a little small talk at the beginning of the meeting.
Business meetings in Australia do not generally proceed from a set agenda, rather, they are viewed as open forums in which ideas are debated and discussed. In fact, over-preparing for a meeting can make a person seem pushy as though they are trying to force their opinion onto others.
Dos and don'ts of business in Australia
- Do be honest and forthright – try to get to know Australian colleagues on a personal level
- Do get involved in 'team-building', since egalitarianism is the backbone of the Australian work ethos
- Do make an effort to get to know colleagues outside of office hours
- Don't try to prove credentials by talking about them. Rather show qualities by working hard
- Don't be insulted if colleagues address someone in a blunt or plain-spoken fashion – this is simply the way Australians communicate with one another