Advice on siesta time / business hours in Colombia
Thread poster: Patryk Bartkiewicz

Patryk Bartkiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:08
English to Polish
+ ...
Jan 20, 2011


1st of all - if this is the wrong forum please move the topic - I really couldn't decide where I want this subjecticon_wink.gif

I'm preparing an offer for a client of mine who wants to start export/import with Colombia. The client is based in Poland. He wishes to have an interpreter call various (probably dozens) of companies on his behalf, in his office and in his presence. The client would probably like the interpreter to work 8-9 hrs daily, for 2-3 days.

My point is - is this reasonable? Am I right thinking that he'd be better off working with the translator outside the traditional siesta hours? Are serious businesses closed during siesta? What exactly are siesta hours - 12.00 - 2.00?

Given that the interpreter would actually start in the afternoon (here in Poland), they wouldn't really have that much time until 12.00 (in Colombia) / evening (in Poland). Standard time is -0500 UTC, which is -0600 for Poland. I guess they'd rather have to work in 4 hr stints, for a few more days.

What's your take on it? Care to share you personal experience?

[Edited at 2011-01-20 18:30 GMT]


Oscar Villegas
Local time: 07:08
English to Spanish
No Siesta Jan 21, 2011


There is no siesta time in Colombia.. The normal office hours are from 8:00 am up to 6:00 pm but many Colombian companies do overtime and is a normal practice.

Lunch time is 1 hour usually between 12 and 2 pm so probably you won't fine some people you wish to talk at that time without an appointment.

Please keep in mind that interpreting is very demanding and I doubt one can work more than 4 hours even having regular brakes.

Hope this information is useful and let me know if you have any further questions I'd be glad to help you with.



Patryk Bartkiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:08
English to Polish
+ ...
Thank! Jan 21, 2011

Good info, thank you. I'll update the client accordingly.

From what I've read online it seemed to me that the ritual of siesta was / is present in smaller towns / rural areas where people can actually make it home from work quickly. And not in cities, where commuting is a time consuming ordeal.

I wouldn't really worry about the interpretor in this case as she'd actually be talking to the prospective partners herself (as in she receives a list of q's and a's and some info/data from the client beforehand and keeps the conversation herself), rather than interpreting for the client sentence for sentence. These will only be short, introductory talks, company presentation, some general probing, no big deal. She may write an email or two or put down some notes in between, too, so she'll cool off. And the girl who'll be doing it is actually employed full time on a business position in some other company, so she knows the ropes. And of course speaks excellent Spanish. We got it all coveredicon_smile.gif

Again, thank you so much!


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Advice on siesta time / business hours in Colombia

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