What Its Like Working In London


London Work Ethic

We’ve all been there. We’ve all our nose to the grindstone to get our work done, right? Work is work. You show up and work your shift and do things for a company and get money for your efforts. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, sure, on paper, it seems quite simple but things in the real world are far less so.

While you are slaving away at a job doing the same old routine day in and day out at your job, you are surrounded by familiar faces and asked to do what you do well. Now imagine how you would work at a different job with a different team in a different office across the street. It would change everything, wouldn’t it? Of course, it would. Now imagine if that office wasn’t across the street but in a different country.

There are so many things that change from culture to culture from company to company from office to office. In the UK, the corporate culture, mentality, and even work ethics are different than anywhere else in the world. Those looking for work are likely to have a culture shock.

Let’s look at some of those differences that might take some getting used to while working in London.


What’s a Schedule?

So, there are distinct differences from country to country with regard to how much work is valued. For argument’s sake let’s talk about the American way of business. Things are markedly different between their concept of work and ours. They operate under a different set of rules. Their jobs are a part of their identity. They wear it like a badge of honor and define themselves by what type of job they have. Many Americans live their life for their job, hoping to land that dream job, the one their parents would be extremely proud of. Now, the British, on the other hand, with them, things are much different. While overtime is very common in America and even considered part of the job, in Britain that’s not the case. See, when the job we hold works from 9 to 5 then we show up to work at 9 and then go home at 5. There is no expectation to work an extra hour or two each day. When the clock strikes 5, the office is going to start emptying.

This attitude can help by allowing more personal time with family and friends or time for self-improvement or friends. While this might slow things down to a certain extent, it does not by any means make it less effective. While this might seem counterproductive to the bottom line of a particular business, it is simply more important to be able to separate our lives between personal and business.

While Americans put work ahead of almost everything in their lives, we choose to be successful but to do it while working smarter, not harder. We choose to not sacrifice our personal well-being and our home lives for any amount of money or for the company we work for. There are some things that are far more important than that.

Communication. Communication. Communication.

Every country around the world has its customs, its styles, and its way of communicating. Style of communication is the second biggest difference between the American office place and the London office place. Londoners simply do not talk the same way in the workplace as Americans do.

Overall, the British are far less talkative than Americans are. If we do have something say it is either meaningful to the moment at hand or it is a funny quip. There is very little between those two points. To be sure, we are sincere when we offer feedback though emotion never plays a part in our comments. This differs greatly in the American office place where emotion seems to crackle over the smallest things.

Americans love to encourage and praise themselves and their co-workers while the British are not as keen on those types of interactions. Moreover, self-promotion is a definite no-no in the UK. While Americans are quick to jump all in regardless of outcome or obstacles, we oftentimes take a moment to digest the information available and then act.

It’s Not About the Money

This is another big difference between working in the UK and working in America. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we choose the type of work we do? For a Brit, the answer to that question is more often than not because they enjoy doing them. However, in America, the chase of capitalism and the all-mighty dollar has shifted the focus from doing what you like doing to what makes you the most money and allows you to climb the corporate ladder. Now, I know that not every American is like that and not every American company is like that but by far more companies are indeed geared that way than are not.

In Britain, we tend to choose to live our lives now and don’t care if we earn an additional 10k worth of income for slaving away extra hours each day. We are fine in our positions and if we aren’t, we look for a new position but no matter where we work or what type of work it is, we don’t work overtime. It’s just not in our DNA.

That’s why when you walk through town, you’ll likely see ‘closed’ signs on the doors of small businesses. They do not stay open in the hope of making one or two more sales late into the evening. They have lives to get to and things to do and enjoy. They want to spend time doing the things they love and they want to spend time with the people in their lives. Moreover, they want to leave their work at the office and not bring it home with them. When they are home, they are home. When they are at work, they are at work.

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