Expats doing business in the Czech Republic will find themselves in one of the most developed and industrialised economies in Central Europe. The Czech Republic has taken strides in developing its economy and has moved closer towards a more Western style of business in recent years. Its ascension to the European Union in 2004, along with its central position in Europe, have made it an attractive destination for international foreign investment and a number of international corporations have their European headquarters in the country.
The Czech Republic is considered to have a good business climate, as reflected in its ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. The country ranked 41st out of the 190 countries surveyed and came first in trading across borders. It also scored well in categories such as getting electricity (11th) and resolving insolvency (16th). Despite this, the country did do poorly with regards to ease of dealing with construction permits (157th) and ease of starting a business (134th).
How individuals conduct themselves during business in the Czech Republic can have a great impact on how fellow business associates perceive them. Expats should take some time to understand common business practices and etiquette in Czech Republic to become familiar with their corporate culture.
Business hours are generally from 8am to 4.30pm or up to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
Czech and English, although German is used in some business circles.
Business attire is generally formal and conservative. Women should wear business suits, modest dresses or formal skirts. Men should wear dark suits with ties. Business-casual and other less formal attire may be accepted in some industries.
If invited to a local's home, flowers or a bottle of good-quality wine or spirits are acceptable. A small gift from one's home country is also acceptable. Gifts are usually opened when received.
Women are considered equal and there are no restrictions on women in the workplace, although men still hold the majority of senior positions.
A firm handshake while maintaining direct eye contact.
Business culture in Czech Republic
Expats may initially perceive the reserved Czech manner to be cold and impersonal, but Czechs are actually warm and hospitable people. They are generally private people until one gets to know them on a more personal level, although it could take many meetings to reach this stage.
Initial greetings may be formal and reserved. Czechs may be somewhat indirect and non-confrontational in their communications during business meetings. It’s not uncommon for a Czech associate to answer with a vague “we will see” or “it is difficult” (neither of which are favourable answers) rather than giving an outright “yes” or “no” response.
Business structures in the Czech Republic are hierarchical and decisions are made from the top down, although the group’s opinion may be considered in some cases.
Networking is very important in the Czech Republic and it is vital to build and maintain relationships. Business may be conducted slowly with initial meetings scheduled to get to know each other and ascertain the trustworthiness of associates before a deal can be made. Expats must, therefore, exercise patience.
Family is valued highly in Czech culture. Family ties are deeply rooted and family time is important. As such, it is unlikely that work commitments will extend over weekends or public holidays.
Dos and don'ts of business in Czech Republic
Do be on time. Punctuality is important and taken very seriously in Czech business.
Do arrange meetings well ahead of time as Czechs are not fond of impromptu meetings at the last minute
Don't address somebody by their first name unless invited to do so
Don't try to rush things. Business decisions can take time as associates get to know a person and decide whether they are trustworthy.
Do shake hands and maintain eye contact when greeting