Indonesian Work Culture that Foreigners Need to Know – Some might assume that working anywhere would have the same circumstances. That person may be at fault because there are many places with different work cultures. Especially when you compare Western and non-Western work cultures. There will be many differences or some adjustments needed for foreigners working in the workplace especially in Indonesia for the first time

A country consisting of many islands and located between two continents and two oceans, I’e ; the Asian continent and the Australian continent, as well as the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. And on more than sixteen thousand seven hundred and seventy-one (16,771) islands in 2020 – quoting from the website, this archipelagic state was formed (Indonesia). Those who work in this country may find that the demographics of this country are similar to other countries in Asia, consisting of people who come from various languages ​​and cultures.

Working in Indonesia requires some knowledge, as those who travel to this country will find that language is not the only barrier to working in this country. In addition to finding suitable office space and making the necessary business connections, businesses must traverse to obtain the necessary licenses and permits.

Understanding the various cultural nuances that exist in Indonesia can make working in this country easier.

Keep reading to learn how you can understand Indonesian work culture and start building successful relationships in this interesting country.


Indonesian Office


Work Environment in a Typical Indonesian Office

Working in a comfortable workplace is almost everyone’s dream.

The following are some considerations you may need for the work environment and workplace in Indonesia:

Social Hierarchy 

In Indonesia, most social contacts take place with social hierarchy in mind. You may need to learn some additional lessons about good etiquette with Indonesian culture.

Some important social context comes from the way you talk to co-workers. How you interact depends on their seniority and age.

Note that not everyone likes this, but it can be helpful in the context of a formal or first interaction.

Some people may choose not to use social cues but try to figure it out and learn about it. The following are some of these honorary titles/polite titles:

  1. Older or senior male: Bapak/Pak + (Name)
  2. Older or senior female: Ibu/Bu + (Name)
  3. Male of a similar age: Mas + (Name)
  4. Female of a similar age: Mbak + (Name)
  5. Someone of similar age, regardless of gender: Kak + (Name)

Reputation is Very Important 

Reputation is the value of all our actions reflected by those around us in the way they treat us or interact with us. Try our best not to have a condescending or disrespectful tone to the person we are trying to give advice to. This is to ensure that there is a form of face saving that is common among Indonesian social circles. So tread lightly, Indonesians really value people who have proper honesty but also decency. This is especially true with workplaces and other formal settings.

Avoid Conflict

In dealing with conflicts, Indonesians tend to be reluctant to discuss them, on the contrary, are more forgiving of work mistakes and failures in achievement. Although conflict often occurs at work.

However, if you are not used to a culture that tends to avoid conflict, you will likely have to adjust. This is one of the characteristics of Indonesians, who generally do not like direct confrontation.


What relates to productivity and overall mood at work, usually varies from work environment and type of office. You will find a different attitude. The work environment can affect mood and overall performance.

Productive workers are the key behind the success of any business within a company. Having workers who work hard and productively will make achieving goals and targets very easy.

Work-life Balance

Work-life balance is a crucial issue for every worker in an agency or company, especially in Indonesia. This is because there will be a decrease in employee productivity and performance if an organization does not think about the work balance of employees properly and is not managed properly.

Indonesians, with all their limitations, are friendly people and tend to want to separate their personal life and work life.

Working Attire

Unless the company or the industry has their own set of uniforms for the workers to wear, then the general rule would be to wear a conservative but professional working attire. The men might wear a business suit or a shirt and pants. The same applies for women but they can wear either a skirt or pants. Additionally, they are advised not to wear clothing that are too tight.

Giving Handshake

Giving a handshake is an important aspect when meeting someone for the first time inside of a workplace. The handshake also still applies to workers who already know each other but happen to run each other. The style of handshake in Indonesia might vary between people. The most common one is giving the least pressure while shaking hands. Seniors should also be given the first handshake when meeting inside a group.

Showing Good Manners

Showing good manners at the workplace will help workers and employees to keep a harmonious environment. A peaceful and harmonious workplace would make them more productive. It would also create a supportive atmosphere. Workers are expected to always be friendly with one another even though they might not be close friends. They should either smile or give a slight nod as acknowledgement when meeting each other.

Being Professional at All Times

It is a basic and an important work culture to be professional at all times. Workers and employees must be professional no matter what the situation is. They are expected to be a good team member, be friendly to one another and willing to help when someone is in need. Workers and employees are advised to avoid gossiping that could cause troubles. They should focus more on their own work.

Making Leaders Happy

Usually, the subordinate workers don’t question what their boss or seniors asks for them to do. The subordinate workers would follow through with the request without any talk back. The reason for this is because they want to make their leaders happy by doing what they want.

Indirect Communication

This particular work culture is tied to the culture where Indonesians prefer to avoid conflict. This concept turns most Indonesian workers to be indirect in their communication. They are afraid to say how they truly feel and they usually beat around the bush. The workers expect the person they’re talking with to really know how they feel through the use of their body language, expressions on face or through speaking tones.

Showing Gratitude

Showing gratitude in a workplace is a must. Indonesian workers tend to be friendly and understanding. Saying ‘thank you’ after a work has been done is seen as a good manner and it shows gratitude. Even though the end result of the work might not be great, it is still important to appreciate the time and effort put into completing the work.

Employee Outings

Many companies and industries usually take their employees to different outings at certain times. These workers are taken to recreational places with the company’s transportations. Moreover, they are often allowed to bring their children with them. This work culture shows how companies try to pay back for what their workers have done to them. It is also another way of strengthening relationships between the workers.

And Etc.

Typical Work Schedule in Indonesia


Work Schedule


The following are some examples of working hours by regulation:

Working Hours is the time to do work, it can be carried out during the day and/or at night. Working hours for workers in the private sector are regulated in articles 77 to 85 of the Job Creation Law (UU Cipta Kerja) No. 11 of 2020 and Law No. 13 of 2003 concerning Manpower.

Article 77 paragraphs (1) and (2) of the Job Creation Law (UU Cipta Kerja) No.11/2020 obliges every entrepreneur to implement the provisions on working hours. The provisions of these working hours have been regulated in 2 systems as mentioned above, I’e:

  1. 7 working hours in 1 day or 40 working hours in 1 week for 6 working days in 1 week; or
  2. 8 working hours in 1 day or 40 working hours in 1 week for 5 working days in 1 week.

Article 77 paragraph (3) of the Job Creation Law (UU Cipta Kerja) states that the provisions on working time as referred to do not apply to certain business sectors or occupations.

The working time provisions above only regulate the working time limit for 7 or 8 days and 40 hours a week and do not regulate when the working time or hours starts and ends.

In both systems of working hours, a limit of working hours is also given, I’e: 40 (forty) hours in 1 (one) week. If it exceeds the stipulated working time, then the usual working time is considered as overtime work so that the worker/ laborer is entitled to overtime pay.

Adjusting to the Work Culture in Indonesia


Work Culture in Indonesia


foreigners must adapt to the work culture in Indonesia:

  1. Learn the importance of learning and using Indonesian 
  2. Knowing the Hierarchical culture in Indonesia 
  3. Ready to socialize with Indonesian people 
  4. Learn about Indonesian food 
  5. Demonstrate good attitudes, values, morals, and ethics in front of all Indonesian people


Based on the explanation above. If you are a Foreigner who is interested in doing business & planning to invest in Indonesia, and will set up a company in Indonesia, and are looking for office space, looking for prospective Indonesian workers for the company or Work Permit and Stay Permit for you and other foreigners who will work with you.

Contact Indoservice Now!

Indoservice, a consulting company for secretarial licensing services and a modern employment agency as well as a formality service consultant who can assist you in establishment a company in Indonesia, managing business-related permits, looking for Indonesian workforce candidates and providing formality services on legality, foreigners who work in Indonesia, are trusted and experienced in Indonesia, are committed to providing the best and fast service to meet your needs. 

Contact us now for special offers at +6281818811887 & +6287714498500 or 

Important Notice:

This information was obtained from and several other sources.


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Indonesian Work Culture that Foreigners Need to Know
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Indonesian Work Culture that Foreigners Need to Know
Understanding the various cultural nuances that exist in Indonesia can make working in this country easier.
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