Working in Austria For Members

8 things you should know before starting an office job in Austria

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
8 things you should know before starting an office job in Austria
Learning how to play table football is the way to social success at your Austrian workplace. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Do not forget to say 'Mahlzeit', bring a cake for your birthday and become a great table football player. These are some of the things that you should keep in mind to fit in at work.


Learn how to play table soccer 

Austrians absolutely love playing table football. Many of them grow up playing it, and if they did not have it at home, they certainly spent time playing at a friend's house or, why not, at the nearest bar, restaurant, or public space.

Football tables are everywhere in Austria, sometimes even in public indoor swimming pool facilities and climbing halls.

Participating in a game is likely to be one of the first chances you get to socialise with your colleagues and if you are good, you are likely to be well-respected. If you are bad, you better start training. 

Do not forget to say Mahlzeit 

In Austria, it is a tradition to greet each other with 'Mahlzeit' during lunch hours, or at least that is how it is often described. However, many Austrians use the term more frequently than just during lunchtime.

Do not be surprised if you are greeted with a 'Mahlzeit' during your morning coffee at 8 am or even when you are not eating or drinking anything around 4 pm. The expression's popularity has extended beyond its former specific time frame.

READ ALSO: What ‘Mahlzeit’ means and how to use it in Austria

Try Leberkäse and learn to accept it

Leberkäse is a popular snack in Austria. Even if you might not feel tempted to try it, you certainly have to accept its presence.

Leberkäse will regularly make an appearance at your workplace. Usually, at least a few days a week, you will see one or maybe even a few of your colleagues taking a bite of the pink, soft square sandwiched between a white bread roll.

In Austria, Leberkäse is a fast and convenient option when you are hungry. Photo by Allen Rad on Unsplash

READ ALSO: Seven 'weird' foods in Austria you need to try at least once


Be careful when using "Du" 

All work cultures are different, but since Austrians tend to care about their titles, it is important to understand how they are used in your specific workplace.

In Austria, it is not uncommon for companies to have a clear hierarchy. In such environments, you are often expected to refer to your bosses with "Sie" if you have not developed a friendship with them.

On the other hand, your closest colleagues, especially if they are not your superiors, are likely to expect you to call them "Du".

If you want to try to loosen up the work atmosphere, you can suggest playing table soccer; your workplace will most likely have one.

READ ALSO: 21 phrases to help you get on in a German-speaking office in Austria


Suggest going for beers after work

In Austria, It is popular to go for beers after work, and in many offices, it is one of the most common team activities.

This type of team activity is also a great way to loosen up the formalities. After a few beers, your normally formal and serious colleague, who insists on using titles like "Herr Doktor," might suddenly become "Franzl" or "Gustl."

If you are not in the mood for alcohol, you can, of course, also go for a non-alcoholic beer. As long as it is beer, it is still accepted.

Learn to understand the different dialects

When working in Austria, you are likely to hear a lot of dialects from different regions of the country.

While standard German is the norm in professional settings, regional dialects might sneak into casual conversations, leading to sometimes entertaining misunderstandings.

One of the most difficult dialects for foreigners to understand is the German from Vorarlberg, which is similar to Swiss German.

To prepare for the different dialects, a good idea is to watch the long-running German-language crime series Tator. The series has episodes set in various German-speaking regions, including Switzerland. Here, you can practice and get used to the dialects.

READ ALSO: The ten weirdest taboos you must never break in Austria


Do not forget to bring a cake for your birthday 

Birthdays are a big deal in most Austrian offices.

If your birthday falls on a normal working day when you need to be in the office, you have two options: either make sure nobody knows it is your birthday or bring something nice to eat and drink.

In Austria, it is often expected that the birthday person treats their colleagues. Most birthday celebrators bring a cake, and some also some schnapps to go with it.

If you want to ensure that your cake is appreciated, Sachertorte and Linzer Torte are safe choices.

You can also invite your colleagues to enjoy Leberkäse as a snack before enjoying the sweets.

Whatever you do, do not forget to bring a cake to work if you have a birthday. Photo by Luke Wang on Unsplash

Learn how to drink a lot of coffee

Random breaks can sometimes be frowned upon in an Austrian office, but breaks for either playing table football or having a coffee are generally always accepted, and also a good chance to socialise. 

If you are not the biggest table soccer fan but enjoy your breaks, make sure you learn how to drink a lot of coffee.

In many offices around Austria, people spend their breaks at the coffee machines, first waiting for the coffee to be made, then slowly drinking it, often together with another heavy coffee-drinking colleague. 

READ MORE: Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria



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