The Australian Business Etiquette You Must Know Before Working Here

Men shaking hands

There is no doubt that we can suffer some of our most embarrassing “migrant faux pas” in a new office environment. Which is perhaps the last place we want to make a bad first impression. For this reason, we thought a few tips for your first few days might help you to understand what to expect and reduce those nerves.


First, Australians are very accepting, let me reassure you. I remember a new arrival from India that I moved on behalf of a corporate client. He was a nervous wreck. The first order of the day was a coffee downstairs to meet the team, but he spilled his coffee across the table. This happens!

Please take a deep breath. Be open, honest, tell people you are nervous; they are not going to judge you or think less of you. Moving country is no easy feat, they might not relate to that, so explain.

Be humble

Second, to put your mind at rest and also to make you aware, is that Australia is considered a classless society.  By that, we mean we do not judge people based on their job status, earning potential or level of work they perform – not even the car they drive.  As mentioned, there are two reasons I bring this to your attention:

  1. You are not being judged, so try to relax.  Australians are far more likely to respect the international move you have made than to judge you as a foreigner. 
  2. You should mind yourself and your manners around everyone you meet.  A janitor is treated with exactly the same “good morning” greeting as you would the CEO if you passed either of them in the corridor.

It’s worth pointing out that, that it is inappropriate in a restaurant to snap your fingers, whistle or call out to service staff. It is even more inappropriate to do so in the office. 

Follow the rules

Third, workplace health and safety are not in place to annoy migrants nor is it in place for you to find a way around it. I know, I have lived in countries where “finding a back door” is normal and sometimes a way to gain followers – this is not the case in Australia. It can feel like there are so many rules, but they are there to protect YOU!

Many of the rules have come about due to accidents and often you might not understand this history, but that does not entitle you to ignore the rules.  In Australia, as part of your onboarding into a new role, there will be rules, don’t choose to ignore them just because you might have got away with it in another country. Australian will very often “call it out” if you are not abiding by the rules, so save yourself the embarrassment.

Respect names

Australia is a melting pot of migrants and diversity. Did you know there are over 300 home languages across Australia?  It will not be unusual for you to come across a person’s name that you might have never heard before and most likely you could have trouble pronouncing.  It is not OK to offer that person a new “made up” name that you can pronounce – especially if you are the new person in the room. 

Just because you have come in as the new manager and you can’t pronounce the person’s name, if that is how they have introduced themselves to you or how you  have been introduced, then you need to practice that name! Most people are tolerant of mispronunciations but you do not have the right to just shorten their name. 

Don’t get me wrong, Australians shorten names or rename anything to make life easier, but as the new arrival, it is not your place.

Keep the workplace clean

Our last two points are quite simple. Do not smoke inside buildings and only smoke outside in designated areas.

Lastly, always clean up after yourself. That includes your mug after coffee. Kitchens are available in most offices and are communal areas. There is not usually a cleaner who will wipe down the counter after you or clean your teacup. Do it yourself. 

If you have held a meeting in the board room, stay and clean up unless someone tells you otherwise.  As a new arrival, rather offer to do the right and courteous job than just walk out, you would rather be told “no, it’s OK, I’ve got this” than someone to think “Oh they think they are too important?!”

Good luck with your new job in Australia. Please know that it is the Aussie spirit to give everything and everyone a “fair go” and that includes the new arrival.  Ask questions early on, maximise on being the “newbie” so you can learn the culture in your new office quicker.

If You Need Help

Personnel Relocations is your one-stop shop for every relocation need. We understand that every relocation is different and each one has different goals. 

To contribute to your settling in Australia, we have alliances with experts such as relocation mentors, life coaches, cross-culture trainers, baby equipment hire, business communication specialists, local and international furniture removals, interior designers, decluttering, unpacking and setting up trades services who can help with specific needs.

It is not unusual for Personnel Relocations to handle the full suite of relocation needs. Contact us to learn more. 


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