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Working in Russia

It is no hidden secret that business culture and etiquette differs across the globe. Due to this, it is important that employees are made aware of these differences prior to working abroad or attending an event in another country. Russia is often considered a difficult country to navigate for businesses and as a result, we’re taking a closer look at how to do business here, from body language to how you are expected to greet another businessman or woman.

Body language

When conducting business in Russia, it is important that employees maintain eye contact and never show the soles of their shoes. This is because they are considered unclean and therefore rude. In addition, while the OK hand sign is acceptable to use in the United Kingdom, it is not in Russia. While making this hand gesture does not have any severe repercussions, it is considered to be rude and it is rare that businessmen and women located here will understand the message trying to be portrayed.


In order to greet a person in Russia, individuals are required to shake hands firmly and maintain eye contact. This is important when intending to make a lasting impression as it shows confidence, which is an integral part of doing business in Russia. In addition to maintaining direct eye contact, it is important that employees do not use a person’s first name unless informed or permitted to do so. This helps to maintain formality when doing business in Russia, which is particularly important when it comes to securing business deals. Wearing gloves when shaking hands must also be avoided as this is considered to be rude.


While Russians appreciate foreigners endeavouring to speak the Russian language, many can and will speak English in business, making communication much easier for those who have recently undergone relocation to come to terms with the language and environment. It might seem obvious, but when doing business in Russia, it is also advisable to avoid topics regarding the Holocaust and the Czarism unless strictly necessary and refrain from comparing Russia to other countries. While it is important for people doing business to express their views, this may spark outrage and affect success.


As with many countries across the globe, when attending a business meeting, conference or another event, it is important that both men and women dress in formal attire. For women, a blouse and skirt are sufficient, while men are required to wear a suit with a tie depending on the occasion. At a dinner, the host is the first person to initiate a move such as leaving the table and guests are often expected to present a small gift. Most importantly, employees must never be late. Punctuality is crucial in Russia and can say a lot about an individual.  Those that are going to be late for any reason are required to inform the businessman or woman they are meeting, out of politeness.

Business culture differs across the globe, so it is important to make sure that your employees are aware of the work etiquette within location they are travelling to, to ensure their relocation is a success. For more information on how we can assist your team during the relocation process, get in touch with a member of our expert team on 0208 961 4141, today.

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