Monday, 17 November 2014

How to adjust to working life in Brazil

When we think of Brazil, the first things we think of are sun, sand and samba. Recently, we rounded up some of the top cultural attractions that the country has to offer, this week we’re going to explore what expat life in the workplace is like.

This year’s Expat Explorer report showed that the main driver for relocating to Brazil tends to be for work, which is understandable given the country’s rapidly growing economy. Yet when expats arrive, particularly those who hail from the corporate powerhouses of Europe, North America and the Far East, they’re often confronted with a work ethic that can be very different from what they’re used to! 

  Image source: Creative Commons / JĂșlio Boaro

The can-do attitude and the jeitinho brasileiro
The first concept that every expat in Brazil should know about is the jeitinho brasileiro (jzay-cheen-yu-brazi-lay-ru). This translates as the little Brazilian way of getting things done. It refers to the Brazilian can-do attitude, the way in which people here always manage to find a solution to their problems with a smile on their face. Pessimism in the Brazilian workplace won’t go down well. Expats in Brazil will notice the truly inspirational sense of optimism of the people here. 

Office attire
The next thing expats in Brazil should be aware of before day one in the office is that the country has a relaxed attitude to dress in the workplace. This doesn’t mean that you should turn up in your beachwear, but ties and top buttons are redundant anywhere but in the boardroom. This should be very welcome news given that most of Brazil basks in a tropical climate for pretty much all of the year!

The paulista expat (that’s a resident of Sao Paulo) will notice a slightly more formal, corporate culture. This enormous city is rapidly becoming one of the business capitals of the world, and has a level of formality to suit. 

A relaxed lunchtime
A Brazilian lunch hour is a very loosely designed “hour”. Brazilians love their food (with good reason), and are certainly not going to cut their lunch hour short and risk missing out on everything the local cuisine has to offer. Most office workers in the big cities tend to frequent what’s known as the kilo buffets, several of which can be found in most neighbourhoods. These pay-by-weight restaurants are the destination of choice for expats with an empty stomach and an open mind. Where else in the world can you pile your plate high with everything from sushi to steak to tropical fruits?

 Image source: Creative Commons / takoradee 

The spread of the co-working space
Many investors and entrepreneurs are starting to recognise Brazil as a real land of opportunity. Given the country’s increasing wealth and its centre-stage position due to events like the World Cup and The Olympics, opportunities for new businesses are rife. This has led to the spread of the co-working trend from Europe and North America – office spaces in which start-ups and freelancers can rent a desk and share communal spaces. These are great opportunities to meet other expats and get a bright business idea off the ground!

Speaking Portuguese in the office
Portuguese is the national language of Brazil, but many top businesses need a few English-speakers in order to be able to do business with much of the rest of the world. Any effort on the part of an expat to speak a little Portuguese will be truly celebrated, and, given Brazil’s growing prominence in the world, it would be wise to think about learning a few words!

Are you an expat in Brazil? Share your best tips for success with other expats using our Hints & Tips tool here

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