July 9, 2013
Throughout my first couple weeks at work, I have noticed many cultural differences between the corporate worlds in the United States and the United Kingdom. From tea to rhetoric to apparel, the British tend to be more formal than Americans in the workplace. During my three-month internship in Silicon Valley, I noticed that people tend to dress more casually than the average British worker. For example, most people in the office at Virtual Human Resources wear a suit and tie to work everyday whereas it is commonplace to wear a dress shirt and jeans in the Bay Area. Although the two corporate cultures are distinct and unique in their own ways, I have actually found the working environment to be quite similar when it comes to work ethic, expectation, and daily tasks.
More importantly, one significant distinction I have noticed between the two workplaces is that British people are much more open about their personal lives at Virtual Human Resources. At Composite software, in Silicon Valley, my bosses and fellow employees always kept their personal lives very private. Conversing about bars, alcohol, and partying was extremely rare and typically frowned upon. At Virtual Human Resources, people seem to talk about their personal lives quite openly. Although this might not be the case at all British companies, people at my company seem to have no trouble talking about how much they drank, which nightclub they went to, or various other wild adventures. Quite frequently, wild behavior seems to be means of humor especially when talking about weekends or holiday. For example, my boss Ian shouted to Paul, a director of the company, to “have a great time getting drunk on holiday” and everybody laughed. Similarly, my friend Jason at the company was telling everybody how he was hungover the whole time he was in southern Spain. In some ways, I find it refreshing that people in England don’t necessarily keep their lives a secret like many Americans in Silicon Valley.