5 Things to Know About British Work Culture

If you’re considering a move abroad for work purposes, the U.K. should top your list as one of the best places to both live and work – after all, London is often toted as the business centre of the world! A thriving night-life, great foodie culture, and conglomeration of fascinating sights to see probably already have you convinced, but don’t start packing your bags just yet. Business culture in the U.K. can vary quite a lot even from fellow Western nations like the U.S. or other countries in Europe. So before booking your plane ticket and making that big move, read up on British work culture and decide if it’s a good fit for you:

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Talking the Talk

There are various facets to communicating in the British workplace. On the one hand, Brits are known for being straight-forward when it comes to talking about things like numbers or data, but love to chit-chat before getting to the point. This means that in a meeting it’s not common to just dive right in; five to ten minutes are usually spent exchanging niceties before finally getting to the crux of the matter.

Drinks on Me

The U.K. has a big drinking culture and even on weeknights most pubs are full, overflowing with corporate bees taking the edge off with a couple pints. Embrace this and head out at least once a week to hang out with your colleagues after work! This is a great time to get to know them on a different level while spending time in a more laid back environment. In that same vein, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble adopting this particular cultural norm, will you?

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Who’s the Boss

In British companies, seniority is, more often than not, the ruling factor. Obeying the hierarchy should be foremost in your mind if you want to succeed. Initially you may feel confused because communication between superiors and subordinates can often come across as informal, but at the end of the day the subordinate will always defer to his or her boss. In fact, it is said that seniority is often more important than credentials.

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Take one for the Team

Although the hierarchy is important, the concept of teamwork is a vital part of British work culture too. The British pride themselves on fairness and equality and this translates to the business world as well. Individual successes are prone to be celebrated in the context of the team as a whole, and not as one person’s accomplishments. Trying to set yourself apart or even boasting about your accomplishments could lead to some sour business relationships, so just remember to bring along your team spirit!

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Work and Play

One of the best parts of British work culture is that locals know how to work hard but they also know when to call it quits. The standard work week is Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and it is very rare to have to go into the office on Saturdays. Another great thing is that, unlike U.S. work culture which expects employees to sacrifice vacations and holidays to show their dedication to the job, Brits embrace having time off and would never dream of giving up a single day of their yearly four weeks leave!

Integrating in to a new culture takes time, so don’t be surprised if you feel a little out of the loop during your first weeks in the U.K. Over time though you’ll learn all the intricacies of British work culture and start fitting in sooner than you think!

Do you currently live and work in the U.K. and have a few tips on British work culture you’d like to share? Leave them for us in the comments section!

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