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UK Work Culture

By I-Serve Systems Pvt. Ltd.

These are some of the main points to consider in the British work environment:
‡ Everyone fetches his or her lunch and tea/coffee from the vending machines in their own mugs. You are expected to wash your own cups and mugs. ‡ Lunchtime is usually a short and casual time when 'packed-lunch' (brought from home) or 'carry out' sandwiches are eaten sitting at one's own or with colleagues. ‡ Those eating out rarely take off for more than an hour. The official lunchtime depends from place to place and is normally one hour from 12 to 1 pm and some companies have their own Cafeterias. ‡ It is considered rude to talk loudly at work, or to speak with other colleagues in foreign languages even if they are from your country. ‡ The British are very direct and love to banter. If you are teased, take it in good humour and tease back without insulting anyone. ‡ Be modest in interactions, and downplay your knowledge and expertise. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves.

Note the following: ‡ Deadlines are honoured and stuck to. They take them very seriously and expect you to do the same. people tend to arrive exactly on time or even a few minutes before the appointed time. ‡ Normally. In case of any unforeseen delay. make it a point to call the people concerned and tell them.Concept Of Time The British are also very particular about honoring deadlines. . and the same is expected of you. But you must call ahead. ‡ Some people may tell you to come over any time. ‡ You should normally meet clients or people in business only by prior appointment. and ask them. ‡ Make sure you are punctual regarding meetings and discussions.

‡ Be clear on the points you wish to make before you speak. It is important to show respect for the other person's point of view. ‡ Make sure that you have understood everything that was said at the meeting and that your impressions were correct. present your case in a forthright manner. You must be able to understand others and get your view across in the allotted time. When you are meeting two or three people it is appropriate to mention that you would like to take notes on the points discussed. ‡ Before beginning business meetings. but don't interrupt a person who is speaking. articulating both the good and the bad. nor do they appreciate high-pressure sales tactics. competence and depth of knowledge. ‡ Avoid nervous and distracting gestures. but do not accuse. which is important to the British. Do question. Therefore. ‡ Though the meetings may be informal at the onset. ‡ Listen attentively and take notes during discussions. This social time will be short but will establish a familiar rapport. spend a brief period of time in small talk. They are also used to clarifying various doubts that your British counterparts may have regarded your reports. ‡ The British generally do not like to 'negotiate'. .Meetings Note that the British give a lot of importance to meetings. ‡ As a part of the meeting. and respond to points made before making your own observations. Summarize the decisions taken and the action plan. ‡ Those who propose new ideas and actions must be prepared to implement them. you are expected to have professionalism. ‡ Meetings are important and have a time limit. ‡ Be on time for the meeting and be prepared for it. They value directness. and do discuss but do not argue. you should contribute ideas.

clearing your doubts on tricky words. because you will make an impression on your company that will stick. Do not digress or go into too much detail. It is important how you make your presentation. When responding to a question or an observation. Do not use jargon. During your presentation. instead. It should be structured in a coherent and logical fashion. The time spent on preparation decides the effectiveness of your presentation. removing obvious mistakes. or showy words. it will inspire them to deflate the presenter with humour. Choose your words and manner according to your situation and the person to whom you are making the presentation. and remember the correction. slang. Modesty and casualness are British characteristics. respond first to the concerns of the person before making your point. Your points must be related to the goal you are seeking. ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Presentations need to be tightly linked to a key objective. A business presentation filled with hype and excitement will not impress the British. You may be asked many questions so make sure that your facts are up to date and comprehensive. Run through your presentation with a colleague. you will have to present your results. Choose your words and ideas to reflect your goal clearly and effectively. thank them. and at the end of your assignment. if your audience corrects you. .Presentations While working in a company. which will help you fine-tune it. you may be asked to present the main points of your assignment to your superior. or the finished product.

and you must deliver it in a respectful manner. Don't go on and on. The British will listen to your presentation attentively. ‡ Count on the attention span being about 30 minutes. and also be aware of the body language of your audience. Their body language will tell you a lot about how they are reacting to you. ‡ Be aware of your non-verbal or body language. . ‡ If you have a certain amount of time in which to finish and you should use this time profitably.Contd« You must look at not just the content but also the process of presentation: ‡ Speak clearly. ‡ Don't be too loud or too soft.

‡ Be aware of whom you are reporting to and what he/she would need to know. and have as little paper work as possible. ‡ Highlight your important points and use graphics or live examples to illustrate a point. Whenever possible. ‡ Make sure your report is clear and concise. ‡ Use simple words and precise sentences. Make sure you use the right syntax. Your report must be focussed and to the point.Reports Reporting is an important managerial process and it is a vital channel of information. and active verbs are preferred. keep your sentences short. Effective practice of your business writing skills is important for sending out good reports. .

as you will be expected to be resourceful and productive. Be sure not to be overconfident as that can be of more harm than help.The Assignment You must make sure you are fully aware and up-to-date on your job assignment. fatigue and adapting to the new place. It can be difficult with jet lag. . but a little effort will go a long way.

g. credit card. ‡ Too much time on the telephone making personal calls.). Here are some things to keep in mind when you get to work: ‡ Do not raise personal problems with the client/employer as soon as you join (e.Behavior The following are considered typical examples of unacceptable behavior: ‡ Chatting and personal discussions during office hours. e-mail. to inform your family/relatives/wife that you have arrived safely. The client is often paying for time . etc. ‡ Poor quality work. asking for time off to get your accommodation. ‡ Do not ask for permission to call home (on client telephones). Use a pay telephone for this purpose. office stationery. bank account. ‡ Resource misuse.it leaves a bad impression. . photocopying machines. as soon as you arrive. ‡ Never call home from the office except as a matter of importance.

meaning that they can be casual. For the first few days.Dress Code The dress codes in the UK are not too different from those of the US. play it by ear. dress formally but after that. . but the British prefer to be a little more formal.

‡ Casual clothing (like jeans and T-shirts) is acceptable in some companies. you should dress more conservatively until you are sure what degree of formality is expected. and subdued two-piece suits or trouser and jacket. ‡ Jeans are good for casual wear. . Note the following: ‡ Where formal wear is required by a company. well-fitting. ‡ As a foreigner. but shorts should be avoided.Clothing Clothing is an important part of first impressions and how we react to someone is largely based on our initial response to the person's appearance and first impressions count. sober. but make sure before you turn up for work dressed like that. ‡ Women wear dark coloured skirt suits with light-coloured shirts. worn with a white or light-coloured shirt and a dark sober tie is the norm.

be sure to carry a token of your gratitude. at least not during office hours. As you develop a rapport with your colleagues. they may offer their help in which case you can accept.Peers/Seniors The following are some things to bear in mind while interacting with your peers and seniors: Peers ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Important to mix with colleagues quickly after starting. Be businesslike and plan before speaking. It is considered insulting. Try to speak only in English when in the office. Do not chit-chat at one another's workstations in your native language. Refrain from speaking in your mother tongue however tempting it is. Ask for the company handbook. . Do not chat on the telephone. Do not repeatedly ask your neighbours questions to find out things. You will find everything you need to know in it. If you are invited. you may invite them for dinner or a drink. A good time to do this is at lunchtimes or during coffee breaks. Do not take anything too expensive as it might insult them. although sometimes. Don't question your colleagues or superiors about your personal needs. Personal logistics or compensation problems should not be discussed with the client.

Follow what is decided.Contd« Seniors ‡ Ask in advance what should be the interaction protocol with your Project Leader. Silence indicates you understand and accept what is being said. Do you generally need to make an appointment first? ‡ You are expected to ask questions to clarify when you don't understand. ‡ If you have a conflict with other members of your project team (not snide comments and rude remarks) and it affects your work then raise the issue to your Line Manager. ‡ You should use your discretion as to when to raise and when not to raise an issue. ‡ If the client/employer gives you work outside your scope (not one-off cases) you may raise the issue to your seniors. Also this raising of an issue path should be clear. Do it with discretion and maturity. ‡ Any change in schedule should be intimated to the client immediately. Take time to find out. . ‡ You are expected to use your idle time to familiarise yourself with the platform and application.

After working out the estimation and delivery schedule get this approved by the client/employer. Ask for reviews at all stages. naming. Take down minutes. Try to meet the Line Manager at least once a week to keep him updated on your work and build a relationship. You could use review meetings as a forum for this. do it constructively and only if it affects your work. completion etc. If you have completed a task you have been doing for over a month's duration it may be necessary to prepare a closure report (e. Also. If you must. This could include activities completed. prepare-test-review-test). get your plan accepted by the client/employer before starting the new task. Evaluate and examine the scope. and overtime. When work is allocated for execution it may be necessary to plan and do a work breakdown. . Do not criticize the work of others unnecessarily. Try to attend parties to which you are invited. do a spell check. When the client/employer asks you to do anything new. Do not pass client/employer information to your friends or others outside the organization without prior permission. Take security seriously. document hand-over.Tips The following are some dos and don'ts to bear in mind while working: ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Always remember that the majority of your time should be spent at your desk. At meetings be punctual and prepared. Follow client/employer rules and regulations. Obtain permission from client for working Saturdays. Fill in time sheets regularly and submit them weekly. paragraph. do not give an immediate answer.g.). activities planned and problems. etc. reciprocate the gesture where and when possible. Use a proper format (client's/employer). This will help you to gain acceptance early and also save much of your effort (e. It maybe necessary to ensure a progress reporting system is set up based on your Line Manager's requirements. Sundays. and if it is workable. check page numbering. If you author a document.g.

‡ Do not misuse the e-mail facility or surf the net excessively. ‡ Load only licensed software after taking permission from the Line Manager. Do not copy others' software. . there are some things that you may not be allowed to use. making sure to tell your Line Manager that you are making those calls. ‡ Misuse or excessive use of stationary is not acceptable to the client. when you use the photocopying machine you are expected to refill the paper tray and change the cartridge whenever needed. ‡ Office facilities are usually maintained by the users themselves. Some areas of the office may have restricted entry. Get to know the necessary security procedures. ‡ Familiarise yourself with the procedures for the use of facilities and the work practices at your client's office.Using Facilities ‡ Be sure to know what facilities are available to you. ‡ If you need certain facilities for your project be assertive and justify your need to the client. ‡ Restrict personal phone calls and make international calls only when they are essential. For example.

so note the following: ‡ Present it when appropriate. .Business Cards Business cards are an important part of corporate communication. ‡ They should be presented in a good condition because they represent you and your company. ‡ You must not distribute your card at social occasions to everyone. ‡ Keep an adequate stock of cards and carry some with you all the time. Do it privately in the course of your conversations.

Generally the client/employer looks for: ‡ Quality work ‡ Timely deliveries ‡ Healthy work practices ‡ Work ethics .Be proactive Be proactive . helping others beyond your scope helps you to gain respect and appreciation from the client. Giving suggestions.this gives you the highest brownie points with the client/employer.

Things to remember: ‡ The British do not make unannounced visits. ‡ When you're invited. ‡ Remember that the British respect people with opinions. Politics and religion are taken very seriously. so expect some strong opinions if you discuss these topics. ‡ If you want to take a friend with you. even if those opinions conflict with their own. ‡ When invited to a party. Parties and business entertaining usually occurs after business hours. it is polite to ask first. ask your host in advance. Here are some tips on how to handle these occasions. . ‡ Good conversation topics are sports. and get there on time or just afterwards. which are very popular. always call ahead.Parties You will need to interact with colleagues in a social environment either at parties or business dinners in restaurants. confirm your acceptance. sometimes on short notice. and sightseeing. try not to be early or be the last one to leave. You will be entertained often. or on a social visit. ‡ If you smoke. it is customary to take a small gift such as flowers or a bottle of wine. Establishing a successful business relationship hinges on establishing a social relationship as well. so do not be shy about expressing your opinions. since the British are very proud of their country. Arguments are considered entertaining. Take advantage of any invitations to social events.

‡ Do not gesture with your knife. remember that you're expected to split the bill. remember the following: ‡ Place your napkin on your lap when seated at the dining table. There may not be many opportunities for formal dinners. place your napkin on the table to your left. Dinners are great occasions to get to know people because it is a relaxed atmosphere. If you need to leave the table at any point.Dinning Out Dining customs as well as kinds of foods differ between countries. Note: When you go to a restaurant with friends or colleagues. Use these opportunities to get to know people better. put it down. ‡ Keep your free hand in your lap or rest your wrist of the edge of the table. . ‡ About cutlery: always start from the outside and work your way course by course towards the centre. fork or spoon in your hand. At a formal or semi-formal dinner. but it would be a good idea to be prepared for such occasions. You confidence at the dinner table reflect your personality and sociability. If you are not using any cutlery.

and there are many pubs where people gather at all times of the day for a drink and a quick meal. but the amount is usually up to you. . The accepted amount is 10%-15% of the bill. It is illegal to drive if you have been drinking alcohol. You can tip your cab driver.Drinks / Tipping Drinks The age limit for being able to drink or buy alcohol is 18 and alcohol is pretty freely available. Tipping You generally tip after a meal. Two servings of any alcoholic drink within two hours will probably make you legally unable to drive. Drinking is very common in the UK. Penalties are severe for drinking and driving.

‡ If you are being entertained by a colleague or you are visiting him. If you need to smoke. or ask where you are allowed to smoke. Restaurants and many public places usually have smoking zones. ‡ You should ensure you have an ashtray with you and that you never litter the floor with empty wrappers and used matches or cigarette stubs. . Most people step outside to smoke. never light up without asking first. remember the following: ‡ Find out your company's policy on smoking.Smoking Smoking is prohibited by law in most public places in the UK. Observe other smokers. Rules are very strict. ‡ Never smoke in an area designated as 'No Smoking'.

Some tips to keep in mind: ‡ Use deodorants even if you bathe daily. If this is not done it becomes very noticeable at after-lunch meetings and is extremely unpleasant. ‡ Use mouth-fresheners (mints) after meals.Hygiene Hygiene is an important but personal issue. and it is assumed that you are able to look after that. .

Ltd. By I-Serve Systems Pvt. Thanks for being here . .

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