Greece: Doing business and staying in touch
Doing Business in Greece
Most Greek companies close completely in August for their annual summer holidays. Punctuality is appreciated, although people are often late for meetings. French, German and English are often spoken as well as Greek. It is usual to shake hands to greet a business contact. Among colleagues who have known one another well, it is common to embrace and cheek-kiss. Business cards are exchanged after introductions have been made. Business attire is relatively formal; men and women are expected to wear suits and men should also wear ties. More casual wear is sometimes acceptable during the summer but local businesspeople tend to dress conservatively.
Hospitality is an important part of Greek culture and visiting businesspeople may well be taken to lunch. Greeks do not drink excessively but they will appreciate it if foreigners show enthusiasm to sample Greek wines and spirits. Gifts from abroad are well received but not expected. When you are invited to a colleague's home, bring a gift of wine, sweets or flowers.
In Athens, the working day is fairly flexible. In general, offices are open Monday to Friday 0830-1630, although shops and banks may have different hours (smaller organisations still close for a siesta in the afternoon during summer).
The Greek government-debt crisis started in 2009 and many years following that, the EU provided a few rounds of emergency funds, in 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2018 respectively, all with an attempt the stabilise the economy. In exchange for the funds, the Greek government imposed austerity measures which include spending cut, tax hike, and reforming its pension system. Consequently, the economy shrank and unemployment rose.
In 2019, there was a renewed hope that the Greek economy was recovering. But with the government owing billions to other Eurozone governments, European Central Bank and other German banks, austerity measures are likely to stay until the debts are paid.
US$218 billion (2018).
Food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum, chemicals and textiles.
Machinery, transport equipment, fuels and chemicals.
Main trading partners
Germany, Italy, Russia, Iraq, South Korea, China
Keeping in Touch in Greece
Public payphones are disappearing as mobile phones are now widely used.>
Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is excellent on the mainland and islands, but occasionally disappears in more rural locations.
Wi-Fi is widely available in Greece and in most establishments it is free to customers.
A free press operates in Greece, and English papers are available in all the main tourist destinations.
All letters, postcards, newspapers and periodicals will automatically be sent by airmail. Airmail to the rest of Europe takes five days; six to North America; seven to Australia.Post Office hours
In Athens, the main post office on Syntagma Square is open Mon-Fri 0730-2000, Sat 0730-1400 and Sun 0900-1330. Most smaller offices work Mon-Fri 0730-1400 only.