When setting business appointments (that are mandatory) in the Czech Republic, always make them in advance and try not to schedule meetings on a Friday afternoon as after lunch many Czechs leave for their country homes (cottages) for extended weekends. Business hours are usually 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with one hour or so for lunch. But business hours depend on the company. Punctuality for meetings is an important aspect of Czech business culture and it is taken extremely seriously. It is generally considered inappropriate to be more than five minutes late in business dealings; therefore colleagues should be informed of any unavoidable delays. A strong emphasis on quality of life issues and public holidays mean that the majority of Czech companies tend to start and finish work earlier than most Western countries, and may close during the month of August (or July). This is especially true of smaller towns and cities. Letters should be addressed to the company rather than a specific person. This prevents a letter from being held up if the person it is addressed to is away from the office. The best time to make an exchange of business cards occurs when you meet a businessperson for the first time.