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This post belongs to categories: Dutch culture & Expat life in the Netherlands

Dutch at work

At work

Practical information

Dutch people are famous for being very practical about things. I find it especially amazing how practical they are about work. And they are practical not only because of their efficiency in the way they work, but also because you soon get to understand that they do so to make sure they have plenty of time to spend at home and for leisure activities. That for me sounds much more interesting than aiming for your boss’s approval by being in the office ten hours a day.

Tip: Focus on getting things done and not on looking busy all the time. In fact, if you don’t look too busy but at the same time get a lot done, you will for sure get some respect from your Dutch colleagues and boost your growth path.

Taking it personally

The Netherlands is a place where boundaries between work and personal life are very well defined. It’s amazing how heated discussions and tough work decisions can be easily followed by a friendly happy hour where plans for the weekend are the most important topic. I personally find that astonishing (especially being a hot-blooded Latin-American person!).

On the other hand, Dutch people also tend to keep their inner friendship circles outside work. Don’t get me wrong, they are often very open to building a friendship with you, but don’t expect them right away to invite you to something other than the standard colleagues’ happy-hour.

Tip: Take the initiative to build friendships with your Dutch colleagues instead! Even if they are not willing to, they definitely won’t get offended if you ask and you might as just be surprised by how much more open they are than they seem to be.

Trust people

People in the Dutch work environment have a natural willingness to trust each other. You don’t have to worry if you feel you’re not getting enough responsibilities at first, because if you say you can handle something, Dutch people won’t think twice before assigning things to you. But make sure you really can handle it, otherwise the trust can be gone as quickly as it got there.

Formal education and certifications might play a big part in salary and position negotiations, but as soon as you’re there, all it takes for people to trust you with an opportunity is saying you can do it – and then really doing it on time. And be aware: this easy trustfulness might be easy to mistake for an ‘I don’t care’ feeling. I myself was so unused to such a behaviour that it took me some time to understand that they do actually care – a lot – about your work.


clockNeedless to say, there is a difference in punctuality between the Netherlands and Brazil – especially in the work environment. Regardless of how important you are or how big your role is in the meeting, don’t ever expect a meeting to wait for you to start fifteen minutes late, nor to have it extended after the planned ending time.

Tip: Keep your times sharp! Otherwise you might end up having to wait for more than a week to fit the rescheduled meeting into your colleagues’ busy calendars.


My biggest tip for someone who is new to the Dutch work environment would be: give the Dutch way a try! Let it sink in a little bit and you will soon notice how much you can learn from it. Trust me, your Dutch self has a lot to share with you!

Lucas Tostes, Kickstart Student

 What our students say about us

  • My experience with Kickstart has been highly beneficial in both developing language skills and improving my knowledge of the Dutch culture. Josien's support is always spot on and very intuitive in relation to personal circumstances. She spends a lot more than the official time allocated to really get to know her clients and her approach is customised accordingly. She was recommended to me by other Shell colleagues who expressed the same sentiment and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this during the time I spent with her.

    Vennasa van de Ven, Migration Manager working at Shell

  • Entering the Kickstart school premises alone gives you a push of energy and the commitment this will help to create is hardly unmatched in any other language school. The methodology and the approach used in the lessons also helps smoothly unlock the secrets of everyday Dutch. Kickstart School has helped me get in touch with the 'undutchable' culture of the Netherlands and its people. The individual language training I could experience at Kickstart School has been one of the best educational experiences I could have in Europe.

    Alessandro d’Addario, European Law Enforcement 

  • I really enjoyed my English lessons with the Kickstart School. The teacher was professional and really knew the subject. The way they teach is also great! The classes are presented in a clear and professional manner and the online exercises completed at home are very helpful. The teacher always provided useful feedback. It's a great experience to join a Kickstart course with such a friendly atmosphere of students and teachers.

    Beatriz Pedroche, Spain 

  • Kickstart has been the ideal place for me to learn. The teachers are very helpful and friendly and have always gone the "extra mile" to help me learn in a positive way. Their teaching is practical with elements that can immediately be applied to everyday living situations. Included in the lessons are cultural aspects of living in the Netherlands that make learning Dutch dynamic and fun; you learn the language and about the place and the people! The teachers took an active interest in my progress and provided valuable customized sessions that maintained my strengths and developed my weaknesses; all in a patient, fun and friendly style.

    Graeme Ting, dentist from New Zealand 

  • My first contact with Kickstart School was after 1 month of living in The Netherlands, when I started to study Dutch. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge of the language, but with their courses organized by levels I developed important language skills and learned about the Dutch culture. They all do a great job at Kickstart because their motto it’s not just a motto – they are really pleased to teach you. You learn a language in a friendly atmosphere, make new friends from all over the world, and all in a cosy building right in the heart of The Hague.

    Anca Boros, mathematics and physics teacher from Romania

  • During my time with Kickstart I have learned a lot and gained confidence. I was always challenged by the interesting assignments, but never too much. I have really enjoyed the classes!

    Sabine de Bruijn, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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