You may already be aware that Germans are not the driven workaholics of popular legend: an eight-hour day is much more the exception than the rule in this country where the average work week only runs to 37.7 hours (but to be fair, this is very close to the western European average). Nevertheless, while they are at work, people here are generally expected to really work. Rarely will you find German colleagues taking long lunch hours and chatting casually with office colleagues. Those coming from more relaxed cultures may be jolted at first to find the different expectations bosses and colleagues place upon them.
For example, the typical work day in Germany starts earlier than in most countries - and ends earlier. Don't be too shocked if your company expects you to start the daily grind at the ungodly hour of 7:30 am, though an 8:30 am start is probably more common. Many companies simply cut it down the middle and get rolling around 8:00 am. At the other end of this early-bird arrangement lies the good news that you'll ordinarily get off at a time many workers around the world would consider mid-afternoon.
Depending on the length of the lunch break, you and your colleagues may be heading home around 4:00 or 4:30 pm, while 5:00 pm is a common time for the office exodus. By the way, the German lunch break is usually just that ... a 30-minute break during which colleagues collectively head over to the company cafeteria. Most large companies offer subsidized meals for their employees and provide a hearty three-course lunch. Indeed, many employees consider it to be their major meal of the day.
With such a workday schedule, it is a hit-or-miss proposition whether you will reach someone at the office after 4:30 pm, so any important business should be taken care of well before this time. Furthermore, this last call for any business should be cut by at least an hour on Fridays, when most workers avail themselves of the opportunity to extend their weekend into most of Friday afternoon.And you are highly unlikely to get any business done at a government agency after noon on Fridays.
Perhaps it is because the workday ends earlier than in the Anglo-Saxon business world, but a culture of happy-hour, after-work drinks has never really taken hold in Germany. More often than not, your German colleagues will head straight home at the end of the day and not be inclined to go out for a beer in the local pub. This is also because many Germans like to keep a strict separation between private life and work.