According to a study from an online visa application help website, it seems that there are many customs used in overseas offices that UK workers would like to see make their way over here into UK working life; particularly when it comes to customs that effectively shorten the working week.
The study, conducted by www.IXPVisas.com, polled 1,823 UK based office workers aged 18 and over about their knowledge of, and attitude towards, common workplace customs found abroad. Respondents to the study were initially asked, ‘Have you heard of or experienced any unusual customs from work places abroad that you would like to see introduced to the UK?’ to which 74 percent of those taking part said ‘yes’. These respondents were then asked to specify exactly what overseas workplace customs they would most like to see introduced in the UK, able to either select from a list of options or write their own answers anecdotally. Options given were based on both fact and commonly thought misconceptions of workplace customs abroad, in order to get an idea of the customs (real or otherwise) that workers in Britain would most like to see introduced.
According to the results, the most common overseas workplace customs that Britons would most like to see introduced in the UK were as follows: 1: Spain: The siesta (working later in the evening to make room for an afternoon nap) – 39 percent; 2: Netherlands: Shorter working week (The Dutch working week only averages 29 hours) – 24 percent; 3: France: A morning hand shake for everyone in the office – 19 percent; 4: China: Bringing of gifts to business meetings – 18 percent; 5: India: Politeness – avoiding the word ‘no’; instead saying ‘we’ll see’, ‘I will try’ or ‘possibly’ – 16 percent; 6: Japan: Referring to somebody senior by their official job title rather than name – 11 percent; 7: New Zealand: No discussion of business over dinner (although lunch is acceptable) – 9 percent; 8: Hong Kong: The wearing of red accessories for luck; ties, scarves etc. – 7 percent; 9: Germany: Seriousness in business meetings (humour isn’t readily accepted in the office, as business is regarded as, well, a serious business) – 5 percent and 10: Argentina: Business ‘lunches’ to take place at around 9 or 10 PM – 4 percent. Of the respondents who claimed that they wanted to see overseas workplace customs introduced here in the UK, 66 percent said that they believed it would ‘improve working life’.
Respondents to the study were also asked, ‘Given the opportunity, would you be willing to work abroad?’ to which 41 percent said that ‘yes’ they would if the opportunity arose. However the remainder, 59 percent, said that they would prefer to continue working in the UK rather than overseas. When asked why they would prefer to stay in the UK, the most common answer, at 44 percent, was because of the ‘sense of familiarity’ when working in this country. Liam Clifford of IXPVisas.com made the following comment: “Whilst some overseas customs may seem a little unusual at first, it appears that many of us would be willing to accept some of them into a UK office environment. I’m sure that the majority of us would probably be willing to accept a shorter working week, but it’s interesting to see that some people are fans of small acts of politeness too.”
He continued: “How accurate some of these customs are is open for debate, but I’m sure many of us would like to be given a gift at a business meeting in Chinese fashion. Although admittedly, the pressure would also be on you to produce something of worth yourself!”