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Work Contrasts: My Experience Working in Mexico and Germany


As a Mexican living and working in Germany, I have experienced several differences and cultural shocks in the workplace. If you are considering working in Germany or simply want to learn more about its work culture, I invite you to read the following points that have impacted me the most.


 

Working hours


In Mexico, the typical workday is 8 hours from Monday to Friday, but it is common to work more hours without proper compensation. Breaks are minimal and the schedule is rigid. In Germany, the average work week is 35-40 hours. Excessive overtime is avoided and regular breaks are promoted.


In Mexico, I was so used to working many overtime hours and sometimes I wondered if I was being productive. When I arrived in Germany, I was surprised by the fact that they literally "kick you out" of the office when you exceed the number of hours. This happened to me once when I stayed a little later. First, I received an email notifying me that my working time was about to be exceeded and shortly after my boss came to my desk asking me to go home and rest. The next day was explained to me that in Germany it is illegal to work more than 10 hours a day, in case the labor agency finds out, it can sanction the employer with a fine or even, in special cases, the jail.


Vacations


In Mexico, employees are entitled to 6 paid vacation days but only after the first year of service, with the option to gradually increase over the years. In contrast, in Germany, workers are entitled to a minimum of 24 working days of paid vacation per year. Additionally, maternity and paternity leave also differ significantly, with Germany offering at least 14 paid weeks for maternity and at least 2 paid months for paternity, while in Mexico, leave is more limited.


Hierarchy and Decision-Making


The work culture in both countries presents great contrasts. In Mexico, a hierarchical and vertical culture prevails, where the authority of bosses is respected, and decision-making is centralized. In Germany, the work culture is more horizontal and egalitarian, encouraging employee participation in decision-making and valuing open and constructive communication.


This point is important to highlight, since it can change depending on the sector of work. In my case, what I have been able to observe where I work is that there is more freedom for decision-making. Despite having a boss, it is not seen as the only one who can make decisions, but it also allow each employee to make their own decisions and be responsible for the work. In contrast, in Mexico, it was almost impossible to make decisions without being supervised by a boss.


Efficiency and Productivity


Efficiency and productivity are basic principles in the German work culture. Germans strive to streamline processes, optimize workflows and achieve results in a timely manner. They value people who can identify areas for improvement and implement innovative solutions to improve productivity. In contrast, in Mexico, although hard work is done, punctuality and meeting deadlines are usually more flexible. The famous "ahorita" is a good example of this: in Mexico, "ahorita" can mean "in a moment", "in an hour" or even "in a few days", depending on the context. This flexibility in the perception of time can be a challenge for the Germans, who value punctuality.


Something that has surprised me a lot in my work in Germany is that the Germans are really very focused on their work, they avoid distractions. And by distractions I mean those famous moments of the day when we take the opportunity to go gossip with a friend in another department. In reality, those moments do not exist here in Germany. If there are breaks of 5 or 10 minutes to have a coffee, not much gossip is talked about, rather germans only talk about work.



Punctuality


Punctuality is a fundamental value in the German work culture. Being late to a meeting or work appointment is considered an unacceptable lack of respect. The famous "German punctuality" is not a myth, it is a reality that is lived daily at work. In comparison, in Mexico the perception of time is much more flexible. Delays of 10-15 minutes or more are quite common.


Meetings in Germany start with great precision, there are even people who arrive 5 minutes before the meeting because they consider arriving at the scheduled time to already be late.


Communication


Mexicans are well known around the world for being courteous and friendly, avoiding direct confrontation and seeking to maintain harmony. This can become a clash, as the Germans tend to be very direct. This contrast can lead to misunderstandings, but it also offers an opportunity to learn to navigate different communication styles.


A German will always tell you things honestly, concisely and straight to the point. On the other hand, in Mexico we are more accustomed to beating around the bush, either to convince or to make the communication sound less harsh and more friendly. For example, if in Mexico your boss tells you "the presentation was well done but I think we could improve it" it means the presentation was not good, however they start with a positive phrase so you don't feel bad and don't think your work was bad. On the contrary, in Germany a boss will always be direct if things were not done well, in this case they would say: "The presentation was not well done."



How much you can earn in Germany?


The difference in remuneration is notable in both countries. As of 2024, the minimum wage in Germany is 12.41 euros per hour, which equals a monthly minimum of approximately 2,151 euros gross. In Mexico, the minimum wage is 248.93 pesos per day, which translates to around 7,468 pesos per month. This disparity directly impacts the purchasing power and quality of life of people. In Germany, the minimum wage allows for adequately covering basic needs such as housing, food, transportation, etc. In contrast, in Mexico the minimum income can hardly cover the essential expenses of a family.



 

These are some of the points that as a Mexican living abroad I have noticed are very different from how I experienced it in my country. Undoubtedly, there are many others that perhaps I have not yet had the opportunity to experience but I am sure they will become a great experience for me.


Would you like to come to Germany to work? Do you know other cultural clashes?


Share your experiences in the comments!!



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Comments (5)

Felicidades!! Muy lindo todo , gracias!!!🥰🤗❤️👏

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Guest
May 15

Muchas gracias!! Que bonito !!!😇🥰

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May 15

Felicidades!!!!🥳

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LuceBuona
LuceBuona
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Jul 27, 2023

I was in tears even before playing the video! Recently started watching Bluey and to be honest I am saviouring every episode, making sure not to rush through them. Luce as a kid would have love it too! Without all the sometimes extreme drama cartoons such as "Candy", "Peline" and the anime series called in Spanish "La Ranita Demetan" displayed. I also remember feeling sad and stressed after watching some of them...But Bluey is so not like that. I am sure this is appreciated by kids and parents equally. Cheers to all healthy, innocent and non invasive copying mechanisms! And thanks for sharing this one! 😍

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