10 Useful Tips to Know Before You Start Work in Argentina
Argentina is one of the most popular destinations in Latin America for foreigners to live and work. It is a blend of European and Latin influences, making it a melting pot of cultures that are both accessible yet exciting for a temporary basis or long-term. Whether you are visiting for a quick business trip or planning on a life in Argentina, here are some tips you should know before starting work in Argentina.
As is true in general in the Argentine culture, tardiness a little more acceptable even in a professional setting. Don’t be surprised to find co-workers occasionally late to work or meetings running behind schedule. So, obviously, be mindful of the meeting, but sometimes if you are running behind schedule, you can take a breather if your bus is stuck in traffic on the way to work.
2. Dress Code
In the capital of Buenos Aires, you can see men and women dressed up in suits and dresses in the downtown business district. However, on average, the dresscode is not as formal as in other big cities and many workers wear casual clothes if they do not interact with clients on a daily basis. Since the weather can get quite hot in the summer, it is not uncommon for men to wear only button down shirts and pants and women to wear light dresses or skirts.
Argentina has a large amount of public holidays where most companies and business close and workers have a holiday. Sometimes these are made into “puente” or bridge holidays of four day-weekends. Most employees are allowed 2 weeks of paid holiday per year, along with paid time off for weddings, honeymoon, pregnancies, and moving between houses.
Argentines usually have close relationships with co-workers, many times gathering outside of office hours and involvement in personal lives. The term “After Office” used in English refers to weekly or monthly get-togethers where office staff goes to Happy Hour, dinner at a restaurant, or even a dance club after work ends. Many co-workers eat lunch together during the day and enjoy being social with each other during work hours.
Depending on the work environment, such as a start-up or a multinational, workers have different relationships with their bosses. Argentina is home to many multinational companies whose South American headquarters are in Buenos Aires. This means that many workers in the city have only relationships with their direct bosses and have no direct contact with department heads or higher-ups. However, there are also many start-ups in Argentina, both national and international, so many workers develop close relationships with bosses. These relationships resemble those of a co-worker’s and there is not always a defined distinction between employer and employee.
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Argentines are team workers and reach out to help co-workers in need. There is a sense of camaraderie in offices where co-workers prefer to be friends than competitors. There is generally less internal pressure and competition from co-workers than in other cultures.
Lunch time is allotted a full hour. In large cities like Buenos Aires, many workers take this time to eat lunch with co-workers or friends working nearby. Restaurants and cafés fill up at midday, normally offering a special set lunch menu. It is not uncommon to see wine and beer consumed at lunch. Other workers pick up food at a to-go deli to eat in a plaza or in their offices. In smaller cities, many workers have time to go home, eat lunch at home, and possibly fit in a mid-afternoon siesta. The siesta is not as common in bigger cities, but the tradition remains in smaller towns.
Local salaries are quite low compared to the USA and Europe. As the current economy stands, Argentines and foreigners earning in pesos can do well to make a living, however it is difficult to save a portion of their salaries each month. Expect to have a lower salary than what you might be used to, but a trade-off with a more relaxed work environment. Many foreigners work for salaries in dollars or euros for international companies, making life quite affordable in Argentina.
9. Life Outside of Work
In the list of life priorities, most Argentines would put work somewhere around number 3. First comes family, next comes friends and social life, and third comes work. This is quite liberating, as many times a simple family get together can turn into an entire afternoon off work. Workers with children are given special leeway and allowed to miss work for reasons relating to their children.
In order to be truly successful while working in Argentina, it is essential to speak and understand Spanish. Even if you have business dealings in English, internal office conversations will be in Spanish. Most Argentine companies will not hire someone unless they speak Spanish, even if the clientele are English speakers. If you are planning on working in Argentina, even for a short time, we recommend you to take Spanish courses to help get you prepared. This way when you are at the After Office with co-workers, you will be the life of the party!