Everything You Need to Know About Work Culture in Indonesia

6 min readMar 17, 2022
Work Culture in Indonesia

Are you planning to move your job from overseas to Indonesia? If you are assuming that working anywhere would have similar circumstances, well you are wrong because a different workplace means different cultures, values, and ethics. You will need some adaptations to work in Indonesia for the first time. But you don’t have to worry because in this article, we are going to give you several insights about the work culture in Indonesia to increase your chance of succeeding in this country.

Working hours in Indonesia

Work culture in Indonesia — working hours
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Employees in Indonesia typically work 40 hours per week on average. Working hours are usually from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. WIB (Western Indonesian Time). This rule applies to all employees, both private and public. Work in the field as well as in the office. Working hours are sometimes completed for five days from Monday to Friday, requiring Saturday and Sunday off.

This can be distributed in one of two ways at the discretion of the employer:

  • 5 days a week, 8 hours a day
  • 6 days a week, 7 hours a day

Standard working hours are usually used in developed countries, but Indonesia has its own set of working hours, all of which must adhere to existing legal guidelines. Employees are also entitled to a 30-minute break after four hours of continuous work.

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Paternity and Maternity leave

Work culture in Indonesia — paternity leave
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Reporting from The Guardian, Japan topped the rankings by giving its employees 30 weeks of leave. This leave is paid leave which makes employees still get their full salary even though they are on leave. But, what about Indonesia?

The rules for paternity leave for male employees in Indonesia are regulated by Law no. 13 of 2003 concerning Manpower. In article 93 paragraph 4 letter (e), it is explained that employees are entitled to two days of leave to accompany their wives who give birth or miscarry.

If the employee wants to take more than two days of leave, the leave is included in the annual leave allowance or unpaid leave. This is in accordance with applicable company regulations.

However, many companies provide two weeks to one month of leave, which is longer than the statutory leave. The policy is adjusted to the applicable regulations in the company.

Meanwhile, the policy for implementing Maternity Leave is contained in Manpower Law Number 13 of 2003. In Article 82 Paragraph (1), it states that female employees will receive a break before giving birth to children for 1.5 months.

After giving birth, female employees also receive 1.5 months of rest based on the calculation of the doctor or obstetrician.

Hierarchical Relationships

Work culture in Indonesia — Hierarchical Relationships
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When it comes to interpersonal relationships of work culture in Indonesia, this translates into a hierarchical culture, in which people at the bottom of the hierarchy accept their subordinate status and respect formal hierarchical authority. People rarely break command chains or openly question their superiors’ decisions.

If you’ve recently started a job in Indonesia, following these steps will help you conform to hierarchical relationships:

  • Employers and superiors should be treated with the utmost respect.
  • Calling an older male with: Bapak/Pak + (name) and Calling older female with: Ibu/bu + (name). Bapak is similar to “sir” and Ibu is similar to “ma’am”.
  • Convey your criticism in a private place to protect the pride of the employers.
  • Showing gratitude, even it is just a small thing such as saying “thank you” is considered to be good manners.
  • Giving a proper handshake. The most common is to use the least amount of pressure when shaking hands. When meeting in a group, seniors should be given the first handshake.

Just keep this in mind so that your boss doesn’t bite your head off.

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Holidays in Indonesia

Work culture in Indonesia — Holidays
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Indonesia has a varied calendar of holidays, including public holidays, religious holidays (including Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian), national holidays, and international holidays. Because most religious holidays do not have a fixed date, the total number of holidays varies from year to year.

In addition, in Indonesia, there is a concept known as “Cuti Bersama,” which literally translates to “taking leave together.” The idea is to make holidays that fall near the end of the week last a little longer. The local government implemented this in an effort to boost domestic tourism and motivate government employees.

For example, if a holiday falls on a Thursday, the following day (Friday) could be declared a holiday by the government in accordance with the Cuti Bersama concept. Cuti Bersama holidays are usually announced by the government ahead of time.

Productivity and work-life balance

Work culture in Indonesia — work life balance
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What affects productivity and overall mood at work varies depending on the work environment and office type. You will find different attitudes coming from private companies, startups, and government offices.

Although this is not always the case, private companies generally have a more enthusiastic approach to work than government offices. The level of competitiveness is more often found in private companies, especially in startups.

Indonesians are often known as friendly and socially invested people. So hanging out with coworkers after work isn’t something made up. In fact, most of the time, they will be happy to show you around the city. So, you don’t need to be too shy to ask about the environmental introduction.

Understanding the “save face” term

Work culture in Indonesia — save face
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In most Asian countries, the term “save face” is widely used. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a strategy used to avoid humiliation or embarrassment. While this may be a rare word in the West, many in the East (especially in the work culture in Indonesia) are familiar with the “save face” phenomenon.

If you’re a new expat in Indonesia, the following “save face” tips may be useful:

  • Don’t correct someone’s errors in front of others.
  • Don’t argue with your coworkers or boss in front of others.
  • Avoid emotional outbursts in public. It’s best to remain emotionally composed and disciplined.
  • In public, never question your coworkers or superiors.

Remember that this is a common practice in most Asian countries. Losing face can cause someone to lose their reputation in front of others. When looking for work in Indonesia, keep these unwritten work cultures and formalities in mind to avoid getting off on the wrong foot.


There you have it, several tips and everything you need to know about the work culture in Indonesia so you don’t have to puzzle over it. Having an idea of what to expect can help you to better handle your new work environment and colleagues.

You may find this guide helpful and yet it is still far from the truth, depending on your specific work environment. Whether it is a rising startup, a top-notch company, or a government agency, it will always have its uniqueness.

Take this article as a guide, as insight, and as an assumption for you to adapt to the Indonesian work environment. Don’t forget that most Indonesian are friendly, so you can just ask them about social circumstances and ask them the general way of doing things.

In closing, for those of you who want to work in Indonesia, bring good work experience to the table and Good luck!

Related: Mengenal Corporate Culture: Definisi, Peran, dan Strategi Menerapkannya




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