In my recent article on “Modern Spanish business culture“, I mentioned a couple of preconceptions and stereotypes about working in Spain. There are many of these, so here, I’ve gone into a little more detail.
Bear in mind that I can only talk about my own experience. I understand central Barcelona is probably pretty different from a tiny village in Andalucia. But here’s a couple of the biggest generalisations I’ve heard:
- Everyone takes a 2 hour long siesta in the middle of the day and goes home and has a sleep. If only.
- It’s all mañana, mañana, mañana. This depends on the person you’re dealing with. Barcelona has a similar proportion of annoying procrastinators as everywhere else in the world.
- You’re expected to be half an hour late for everything. Again, I’m sure this depends on the part of Spain you’re in. But here you will have some explaining to do if you arrive half an hour late for a meeting.
- Working in Spain is paradise. It is definitely not. Salaries are often low, and working conditions often poor. Take a look at my section on “tax” if you needed any more convincing.
- People will look at you strangely if you say you’re a vegetarian at lunchtime. Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city, with its fair share of vegetarians and everything else.
- The sun always shines in Spain. As I write this, it is raining.
- Spanish companies and systems are inefficient and backwards. In fact, even Spaniards have this stereotype of themselves. In my opinion, it is completely wrong, and also dangerously limiting. Like everywhere, Spain has its share of broken and backwards systems and companies (mentioning no names, national government), but there’s also a lot of very clever, very dynamic people out there and many things that work incredibly well. Take a look at public transport, Barcelona Activa and the smart city programme if you needed any convincing.
- There is lots of red tape and bureaucracy. Yes, ok, this one’s true.