The Algarve is a region where there is much less stress, whether we’re referring to stress caused by business culture or stress caused by lifestyle, more generally. Other regions have traffic, information overload, and lots of advertising. But you won’t find these things in the Algarve: although its companies are global competitors in many tech-based fields, the business culture is much more relaxed than in larger cities. Residents—and especially expats—report that they were pleasantly surprised by how low-key the region can be. They don’t have to wait in traffic—there aren’t even that many cars—and there is less pressure on deadlines. Even punctuality is different in Portugal than it is in other Western countries—it’s not frowned upon if you’re a bit late, and in fact it’s encouraged for people to always be five minutes late to something. It is common, say, for meetings to start 20 minutes after their alleged start time.
Portuguese people also tend to represent time in a more abstract way—they might schedule a meeting “in the afternoon,” rather than a more specific time like 2 PM or 4 PM. Something to keep in mind as well is that Portugal, like France, runs on a 24-hour clock (so, for instance, 16h = 4 o’clock).
There are fewer large chains, both for stores and restaurants, so the presence of oligarchic companies like McDonald’s is less prominent. Instead, there is a large focus on local activity, such as local markets and shops. In Portuguese business culture, it’s common to give gifts to clients and other business partners. Similarly, at Christmas time, the bosses and higher-ups give gifts to their clients. In business, the Portuguese favor family ties—for they are strong on family—over business ties. Similarly, one’s relationship with their family is more highly regarded than one’s relationship with friends. The result of this is that, in business, loyalty to one’s family precedes loyalty to one’s company or place of work.
Because of its small communities, people generally know their neighbors and often spend time with them—rather than ignoring them our outright avoiding them, as is the case in much of North America and Western Europe. It’s very common for people to have their dinner outside, where they can socialize with their neighbors. Furthermore, people enjoy having long lunches—so a business’s lunchtime hours might be extended when compared to those of other countries—and, as a rule of thumb, shops and other business tend to close earlier. Workers feel less pressure to compete or stay at a job they’re not enjoying. Because everyone knows each other, the people of Algarve feel more at home in the region—indeed, like they truly belong.
Everyone—native locals, expats, residents, and tourists—report that this slower, less stressful way of living is better for their mental, physical and emotional health. Their health is further accounted for because of the large array of fresh food in the region, which includes fruits, fish, vegetables, and of course seafood.
There are many business centers in the Algarve, such as tech centers, banks, and communications providers. There are also many schools. Despite the “sleepy little beach resort vibe” you might get from the region, all of these institutions are up to date and well-integrated within our technological world. They are well-developed enough so that they can compete with every other country.
Portuguese business culture is not so stuffy or so formal that business dress is required. In most settings, casual wear is quite appropriate. Portugal is a nation where you must tip. The tip generally runs from 10% to 15%. (Taxi drivers usually receive a tip of 10%, for example.) Tipping is meant for employees such as cab drivers, servers, and hairdressers. In restaurants, smoking is permitted, although it’s usually reserved for the end of a meal. It is not permitted in cinemas and o buses, however.
The Algarve: Paradise in Portugal
So, if you’re headed to the Algarve today, that’s amazing news—you’re about to meet a respectful, welcoming people that will love to have you there. There are lots of cultural things to do in the region, and doing business is straightforward and rewarding. Enjoy yourself! This is definitely one of the more beautiful regions of Portugal.