The Working Culture in Indonesia

The working culture in Indonesia is shaped by a combination of traditional values, cultural norms, and the influence of globalization. Understanding the cultural dynamics is crucial for anyone working or planning to work in Indonesia.

Hierarchy and Respect

Indonesian society places significant emphasis on hierarchy and respect for authority. This hierarchical structure is often reflected in the workplace, where managers and supervisors hold substantial decision-making power. It is common for subordinates to seek guidance and approval from their superiors before making important decisions. Respect for seniority and age is also highly valued, and it is customary to address older colleagues or superiors using appropriate titles such as “Bapak” (Sir) or “Ibu” (Madam).


Indonesian culture is deeply rooted in collectivism, which extends to the workplace as well. Collaboration, teamwork, and harmony are highly valued. Individuals are expected to prioritize the goals and needs of the group over personal interests. Building and maintaining good relationships with colleagues and superiors is considered important for a harmonious work environment.

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Communication Style

Indonesians generally prefer indirect and harmonious communication. Politeness and avoiding direct confrontation or disagreement are cultural norms. It is common to use polite language, speak in a roundabout manner, and rely on non-verbal cues to convey messages. Criticizing or challenging a superior openly can be seen as disrespectful. Feedback may be given subtly or indirectly to preserve harmony and maintain face.

Work-Life Balance

While work is important, maintaining a balance between work and personal life is also valued in Indonesian culture. Work schedules can sometimes be flexible or extended to accommodate personal commitments. Indonesians value spending time with family, participating in social activities, and enjoying hobbies outside of work.


Professional attire and a formal approach to business are generally preferred in Indonesian workplaces, especially when dealing with clients or external stakeholders. However, the level of formality can vary depending on the company culture and the nature of the work. In more traditional industries and government sectors, formal dress codes and conservative behavior are commonly observed.

It is important to note that these characteristics are general observations, and there can be variations across different companies and industries in Indonesia. Additionally, with the influence of globalization and the growing presence of multinational companies, some workplaces may exhibit a blend of Western and Indonesian working cultures. Adapting to local customs, being culturally sensitive, and building strong relationships with colleagues and superiors are key factors for success in the Indonesian work environment.