Wednesday, December 7, 2011

French Workplace Culture

Ubuntu-be Tshirt 2
Geek formal wear
Photo by Wouter Vandenneucker
When working at one company in the UK, I was surprised to find all of the geeks in slacks and nice shirts. Of course, I say "nice", but the truth is that they were long-sleeved, button-down shirts which invariably looked like they had been wadded up and stuffed in corner for a few weeks. In this case, the dress code definitely made things worse. When it was finally lifted, most of the geeks showed up in t-shirts and it was definitely an improvement. Geeks wear t-shirts. It's practically a requirement, but one that I ignore. Sometimes I stand out a bit because though I wear jeans, I do try to wear nice shirts.

I no longer stand out. My French colleagues actually give a damn about their appearance. They're geeks and some of them are damned good ones, but they're not wearing t-shirts. I thought maybe it was a dress code, but no, it's not. They're French.

The other odd aspect is walking in to the office and shaking hands with your colleagues. I wasn't surprised the first day when a couple of people shook my hand, but when they were shaking everyone else's hands and this happened on the second and third day, I realized that this is just the French way of doing things. It's going to take some getting used to, but already I'm enjoying the heck out of Paris.