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10 Minutes Read

Things to know when working with Israelis

1.  Israelis love WhatsApp

If you work with Israelis, it won’t be long before you find yourself chatting on WhatsApp and joining WhatsApp groups.

If you choose to use a dedicated phone line then use WhatsApp Business and set up some out-of-office autoresponders. You may also want to tell your Israeli customers that you prefer email.

While I understand the appeal of WhatsApp, “can you send that to email?” remains one of the most repeated phrases when working with Israelis.

2. Flexible personal-professional boundaries in Israeli work culture

Israeli culture is notoriously informal.

If you see someone wearing a suit and tie here, there’s a very good chance they’re getting married or are taking on some senior leadership role in government.

In keeping with the general atmosphere of informality that pervades society, Israeli work culture often emphasizes interpersonal relationships and sociability.

Israeli offices usually organize an annual excursion called Yom. in Hebrew Kef. Whether you’re bowling or racing in the desert, you’ll probably want to resist the urge to bail on a volunteer day if the urge arises.

Likewise, when working with the Israelis. Collectivity is important. Making an effort to get to know your colleagues/clients as people as well as professionals is a very wise investment of time.

3. Israelis love meetings and discussions

Another aspect of the social workplace: Israelis LOVE holding meetings.

Like in any corporate culture, many of these meetings are simply deemed necessary and can be condensed into the form of a short email.

Speaking of arguments, here’s another aspect of Israeli culture that those new to working with Israelis should probably know. If not, here is your message.

In general, the Jewish tradition values discourse. Israel is a Mediterranean country, and that speech is often lively and noisy.

Don’t be surprised to find your calendar filled with meetings only to wonder why you were invited to half of them. Don’t be afraid to argue or give your opinion.

No culture consists of a homogenous group of individuals who conform neatly to national stereotypes; that said, some Israelis hate controversy. It really depends on the person. But these overall dynamics are certainly appreciated.

4. Israel is a phone culture!

I believe all aspects of Israeli culture are in a state of rapid change. After all, the State of Israel is not even 100 years old. That includes work culture.

Some cultures favor email as their method of communication. Israelis love to talk on the phone.

5. Israelis work hard and for hours

I recently posted about the oft-debated question of whether Israel would be better off switching to a working week (typically, at least in the Western world) from Monday to Friday.

In the process of writing that article, I pointed out that Israel has a long workweek, long average working hours, and a rather small minimum annual leave entitlement for salaried workers.

In general, Israelis – especially those working in the “high-tech” sector – are used to working for relatively long periods of time. This is not to say that Israel has the longest working hours in the world. But there is something about the American “work hard, play hard” attitude in the Israeli workplace.

6. Israelis are proud of their country. But other than that, very cosmopolitan

In general, Israelis are very proud of what their small country has achieved.

At the same time, Israel is a really small place. It gets cramped here. Traditionally, Israelis spend some time after their mandatory military service traveling around the world.

The technology sector – what Israelis call ‘high tech’ – comprises the backbone of the economy, although a minority of the population works in it. That region relies heavily on doing business with the rest of the world.

Therefore, many Israelis speak English well and are very interested in the professional culture of other countries, especially the United States. Israel has a large immigrant population and many immigrants work alongside Israelis in companies. This creates a smooth exchange of ideas and work practices.

7. Israelis work fast and think creatively

Working with the Israelis can be an adjustment. The fast and informal communication style can feel very confusing and confusing to those who are used to working in rigid hierarchies.

However, there is an advantage to the work style that many Israelis prefer – it is well suited to getting the job done.

Israelis are also known for being out-of-the-box thinkers. There is a culture of creativity and innovation in Israel that has earned the country the nickname “Startup Nation” because of its high density of startups per celebrity.

Working with Israelis can require some cultural adjustments. But at the same time, there is a lot to learn from their working style. While quick, sloppy solutions can sometimes be preferred to strategic planning, there can be something invigorating and inspiring about working at a fast pace.

Nissim de Babani

Nissim is the VP of Marketing and Co-Founder of Global Citizens Technologies, an outsourcing company based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He believes in connecting cultures and technologies and spent most of his adult life in Canada, Israel and Vietnam to realize this vision. He has more than 15 years of business experience in these areas. He is an entrepreneur and investor, and his passion is business development in the technology startup environment . He can’t start his day without a cup of mint tea and he loves spending time traveling with his kids.