Business culture can be defined as a set of beliefs, ethics, and attitudes within a business setting. Culture is a main constituent in business and has an influence on the premeditated course of business. Culture impacts the administration, decisions, and all business functions, from secretarial to manufacturing to production.

When it comes to Indonesian work culture, one must understand the nuances of how to react and reply to partners, colleagues, and superiors.

Work Environment in a Typical Indonesian Workplace

The following are some points regarding work environment in an Indonesian workplace:

Addressing Superiors

The Indonesians know about the importance of their superiors and are used to addressing them by suitable titles. For instance, in Indonesia, you must have to call them by “Bapak” which means “Sir”, or “Ibu” which means “Ma’am”. No one can call them by their first name until and unless they are allowed to do so.

Making the Leaders Happy

There is an environment of making the leaders happy in an Indonesian workplace. Generally, the assistant employees obey their superiors or boss and don’t question them. The assistant or subordinate employees never talk back if their superiors give orders for any type of work because they only want to make their leaders happy.

Avoiding clashes

The employers in Indonesia try their best to avoid any kind of clashes. There is an environment of peace in an Indonesian workplace.

Friendship Between Co-workers

There is an environment of peace and friendship in an Indonesian workplace. The co-workers don’t hesitate to ask personal questions and in this way, an environment of friendship goes on.

Personal Criticisms

There is an environment of private criticism in an Indonesian workplace. People there prefer to keep criticism private rather than discuss it in public. In this way, this culture does much to protect the pride of the employers.

Greeting the Most Superior First

In Indonesia, as a subordinate employer, it is essential to know about the superiors of the company. Greeting the most senior first is seen as good conduct.

Giving Handshakes

In Indonesia, superiors are given handshakes first, though the style varies from company to company. Giving handshakes with little pressure is common in Indonesia.

Being Professional at All Times

During working hours, employees must be professional regardless of the situation. They are to be helpful, friendly, and good team members, and they are advised to avoid gossiping to avoid any sort of trouble.

Arriving on Time

It is highly appreciated to arrive on the workplace on time or earlier.

Showing Gratitude

Indonesian employees try to be helpful and friendly and understand each other, and saying “thank you” after receiving help from a colleague is seen to be good manners because it shows gratitude.

Typical Work Schedule in Indonesia

Article No. 44 of Law 13 of 2003 on employees, as well as Articles 77 to 85 about Indonesia labour laws, mention working hours of employees. They clearly mention the working hours and overtime periods of employees. According to this law, working hours will last seven to eight hours. Beyond this, any time worked will be considered as overtime and the wages will vary accordingly. Some of the examples of the working hours are as follows:

Normal Working Hours

In Indonesia, working hours are usually from 8:00 – 17:00 WIB (West Indonesia Time). These hours apply to all employees including private and civil employees. Saturday and Sunday typically are off-days; thus, the work week usually lasts five working days, from Monday to Friday.

Shift 1 Working Hours

There is a difference between normal working hours and shift 1 working hours. Generally, these working hours are applied to those corporations which have very intense operational hours as well as civil service agencies.

The following are some businesses and entities which use shift working hours:

  • Hospitals
  • Automotive factories
  • Food factories
  • Electronics factories
  • Hotels

Shift 2 Working Hours

These working hours are used when the working hours of Shift 1 are completed. They generally last from 15:00 – 23:00 WIB. Businesses using Shift 1 working hours also use Shift 2 working hours.

Shift 3 Working Hours

Shift 3 working hours last from 23:00 to 07:00, though these may vary from company to company.

Working Hours 3 Group 3 Shift

Workers work from Monday to Saturday. On Saturday, there are five working hours and on the rest of the days from Monday to Friday, there are seven working hours per day with a one-hour break. As a result, a total of 40 working hours is accumulated per week.

Non-Shift Working Hours

This type of shift is similar to those of the normal working hours. These hours are reserved for business which need more coordination during working hours.

Working Hours for 12 Hours

When there is bulk work in any company, then the usual working period is more than eight hours. This extra period is sometimes known long shifts. In many agreements between the company and the employees, the working hours are required to be 12 hours per day with one or two days off.

Employees in Indonesia

In 2022, the total number of employees in Indonesia was 135,611,895, which is an increase from the employed persons in 2021 which was 131,064,305.

How to Adapt to Indonesian Work Culture as a Foreigner?

To adapt to Indonesian work culture, foreigners should consider the following:

  • Learn the importance of learning and using the Indonesian language
  • Understand the hierarchical culture of Indonesia
  • Be ready to socialize with Indonesians
  • Learn about the food of Indonesia
  • Show proper values, morals, and ethics in front of employers and other citizens in Indonesia
  • Always be punctual

How Indonesia’s Work Culture Differs from Those of Other Countries

Indonesia certainly has a unique work culture. The differences between its work culture and those of other countries can easily be seen. For example, if the respective work cultures of Indonesia and the US are compared, the primary difference lies in scheduling. American work culture is stricter. On the other hand, Pakistani work culture, for example, is more lenient than Indonesia’s work culture with regard to deadlines and schedules.

Although work culture varies from country to country. some countries’ work cultures do not share the personal and moral values held by most in Indonesia. For example, Indonesian companies’ stances on personal criticism and making the leaders happy might be some of the points which do not apply to companies of foreign countries.

However, in most other countries, employees’ working time is similar to that of Indonesia. The workers work for around eight hours and if the company has bulk work, then double shifts are also arranged.


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