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1.6 Business practices

Business hours

The opening hours of retail shops in the Czech Republic are normally from Monday to Friday during 8 or 9 am to 5 pm, and in the morning during Saturday. Most may close during Sundays and public holidays. Some smaller shops may close for a lunch break, which is usually during 12 pm - 1 pm. However, large retail stores like Tesco and shopping centres are open from around 8 am to 10 pm every day. Some of them may even be open 24 hours a day.

As for the banks and government offices, they are largely open during Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Post offices are also open in the morning on Saturday.

In addition, most restaurants and coffee shops are open daily from 9 am till late evening, e.g., 11 pm, or even later. In smaller towns, however, restaurants and coffee shops often do not open before lunchtime, e.g., before 11 a.m. They may also stay open for a shorter period of time than those in large cities, and may close well before 11 pm.

Religion and holidays

Catholic and Protestant believers together add up to be the largest religious group in the country. Indeed, most Czech people follow Christian traditions. As a result, festivals like Christmas and Easter are important in the country.

Besides, national holidays include the anniversary of the restoration of independence of the state in 1918 (the National Day), celebrated on 28 October, as well as the Day of the Czech Statehood (St Wenceslas Day), celebrated on 28 September. Other public holidays include Labour Day (1 May) and Liberation Day (8 May), as well as some other religious holidays like St Cyril & St Methodius Day (5 July).

While most offices close during public holidays, it is noteworthy that many offices also close for a longer period than the official holidays during Christmas and New Year period. In addition, some may also close during the summer time, especially during July and August, as many staff and workers like to take their annual leave during that period.

Public holidays in the Czech Republic

Date for 2010

Date for 2011

Event

1 January

1 January

New Year’s Day

5 April

25 April

Easter Monday

1 May

1 May

Labour Day

8 May

8 May

Liberation Day

5 July

5 July

St Cyril & St Methodius Day

6 July

6 July

Jan Hus Day

28 September

28 September

St Wenceslas Day

28 October

28 October

National Day

17 November

17 November

Freedom and Democracy Day

24-26 December

24-26 December

Christmas

Sundays, Saturdays and public holidays are days when the majority of authorities and banks are closed. On Sundays and holidays, shops are often closed as well. On the other hand, most restaurants, bars and tourist attractions usually stay open. But public transportation services are significantly limited on these days, and the frequencies are much lower than on working days.

Business greetings

Among the Czech business community, English and German are the most common languages for communication with foreign companies. In particular, it is more likely for younger Czech businessmen to speak English.

For business meetings and visits, formal dressing is the standard dress code. Long business lunches are normal for conducting business negotiations as well as cultivating business relationships. Although most Czech businessmen can speak English, it is still better to ask the Czech counterparts whether an English interpreter is necessary prior to the meeting.

Working with Czech companies

One of the inherent features of Czech culture is that Czech people are mostly polite and humble. While Czech businessmen are relatively formal in conducting business, they prefer an indirect approach in communication. For example, Czech people prefer saying “difficult”, when they actually mean “no”, in order to avoid confrontation with their counterparts.

As for meeting with Czech companies, punctuality is important among the Czech business community. Many Czech companies have a clear hierarchy of management. Managers usually have a distinguishable power over their subordinates, and the decision-making power is vested in the top management. Therefore, companies intending to do business with their Czech counterparts should observe such hierarchy, and pay respect to their Czech counterparts according to their power.

Business and lifestyle

Czech people mostly put an emphasis on quality of life. In particular, holidays are important to staff and workers. Therefore, it is difficult to set up business meetings with Czech companies during weekends and holidays. Moreover, Czech people are relatively reluctant to continue meeting after official office hours, as the staff may take it as a disturbance to their private lives and family time. It is also difficult to set up business meetings with Czechs during Friday afternoons.

In order to have more leisure time, many Czech companies tend to start and finish work earlier than most Western countries. Notably, some may close for weeks during the summer time, when the weather is good for travel and outdoor activities.

Czech people also emphasise individual privacy, and prefer to separate business from their personal lives. When talking about business, they also avoid talking about their private lives, especially with those just having ordinary relations. Czechs are also relatively slow in making personal friendships with their foreign counterparts. Therefore, foreign companies should be patient when networking with Czech companies.

Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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