Greece flag Greece: Business Environment

Business Practices in Greece

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Commisceo Global: Doing Business in Greece
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Opening Hours and Days
Banks are open 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Monday- Thursday) and 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Friday). Public Administation offices are oepn 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Monday- Friday).

Shops are open 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Monday- Friday) and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Saturday). Supermarkets are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Monday- Friday) and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Saturday).


Public Holidays

New Year's Day 1 January
Epiphany 6 January
Orthodox Shrove Monday March
Independence Day 25 March
Orthodox Good Friday April
Orthodox Easter Monday April
Labour Day 1 May
Orthodox Whit Monday June
Assumption 15 August
Ochi Day 28 October
Christmas Day 25 December
Boxing Day 26 December

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Christmas holidays 2-3 days for Christmas
Summer holidays 2-3 weeks in August
Easter holydays 2-3 days for Easter

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
In Greek business culture, honour, respect and flexibility are key values. Hierarchy tends to be vertical, and status is usually based on age and position. 

Honour and respect are very important in Greece, so questioning or disputing decisions made by your superiors is not recommended. Negotiations are usually conducted slowly. Both negotiations and discussions are usually dominated by the most senior person involved. Therefore, it is important to know the hierarchy of the company and who the decision maker is. It is important to note that negotiations do not start during the first meeting, as that meeting is mostly for introductions. Also, verbal agreements are considered more binding than written ones, as they are seen as a symbol of mutual trust.

Personal relationships play a large role in Greek business culture, and it is generally preferred to establish personal relationships before doing business. In general, Greeks invest much time and effort into their business relationships, so it is expected to maintain relationships that go beyond the office and involve different social settings.

First Contact
Greeks usually prefer to do business face to face. But, if you were not introduced by a connection, making a personal call will be more effective than an email or a letter for the first contact. Trust is often built by doing business outside the formal setting. It is preferable to make appointments two weeks in advance, but they can also be arranged at short notice. Working hours vary depending on the time of year, but it is important to notice that there is a 2 to 3 hour nap in the middle of the day during summer.
Time Management
Punctuality is approached with some flexibility. Your partners may be late for appointments, as 'on time’ can mean 20, 30 or even 45 minutes late. Still, tardiness is usually accompanied by an apology. Scheduling an appointment is not always necessary, but it is considered courteous. Meetings are expected to have a set agenda that outlines most of the issues that will be discussed. Nevertheless, that agenda is usually flexible, and items can be introduced for discussion during the meeting. Additionally, informal meetings are also common, and they don't usually follow an agenda.
Greetings and Titles
A handshake is customary at the beginning and end of a meeting. It is important to maintain direct eye contact when introduced to someone for the first time. Physical contact is common, and sometimes after a first meeting, the interlocutor may embrace you. It is advised to use the personal titles 'Keereeoss' (Mr.) and 'Keereeah' (Mrs.) followed by the person's surname, unless invited to use their first name. Note that under Greek naming conventions, people a have a first name, followed by a patronymic name and family name, so their surname is usually just the last one.
Gift Policy
Even though gift giving is seen as a kind gesture, gifts are not essential for business relationships and Greeks do not normally expect to exchange gifts on a first meeting. However, work colleagues usually exchange gifts at Christmas and Easter. Acceptable gifts for business meetings are items for the office, quality pens (including pens with your company logo), fine chocolate, and specially selected wines and liquors. Gifts should be nicely wrapped, and are usually opened right away.
Dress Code
Importance is given to dressing in business. People are expected to dress formally. Men tend to wear dark coloured suits, while women usually wear dark or muted coloured professional outfits. Depending on the situation or field, it is acceptable to dress less formally, but not completelly informal. During the summer, especially when the weather is particularlly hot, it is acceptable for men to wear just a shirt and trousers, without a jacket or a tie.
Business Cards
Business cards are usually exchanged at the first meeting after a formal introduction. Exchanging business cards in both English and Greek is customary. It is seen as polite when you take a moment to examine the content of the card you are given before putting it away.
Meetings Management
It is customary for the host to introduce you to the other participants before a meeting. Greeks may ask several personal questions and be quite talkative. It is recommended to ask them similar questions in return.

When meeting to discuss a product, it is advisable to demonstrate the actual product, as well as to make a presentation. Meetings tend not to be overly structured, so the presentation does not have to follow a pattern. However, you should be prepared to answer numerous questions, to show your knowledge and experience.

During meetings and presentations, discussions and passionate debates are likely to happen, as they are considered stimulating and essential for the correct decisions to be made. It is also common for many people to talk at once and interruptions are frequent. Therefore, it is advised to avoid appearing stiff and impersonal, and to join the discussions. When it comes to first meetings, it is important to note that these are usually just for the purpose of getting to know one another, so formal business discussions and presentations might not take place until at least the third meeting. Although English is widely spoken, it is advised to hand out some material in Greek. Also, in some occasions an interpreter might be needed.

Prior to formal business meetings, it is common for Greeks to offer coffee, either in the office or at a coffee shop. It is recommended that you accept this invitation, as refusing it  would be considered impolite. Business meeting are sometimes followed by a lunch or a dinner in a restaurant. However, given that business dinners are social occasions, business should only be discussed if the host says so.

Sources for Further Information
Business Culture Cultural Atlas Internations Commisceo Global

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Latest Update: June 2024