If you are relocating to the UK, you need to do a little research into UK business etiquette. The British are known for their unusual sense of humor, politeness, and, of course, driving on the ‘wrong side of the road.’ It’s important to gain a basic understanding of how the UK business works before you dive headfirst into it.
Different regions of the UK have different identities and characteristics. For example, the North of England is known for being more friendly and down to Earth than the South. Some areas have much stronger accents and dialects that can be difficult to understand if you are unfamiliar with the area. A little research can help you better understand other regions and how they see themselves.
Here are a few dos and don’ts of UK business etiquette.
Do arrive on time
Punctuality is valued in the UK business world. Arriving on time for a business meeting shows you respect that person’s time and effort. You will make an excellent first impression and start the meeting off on a positive note.
Of course, sometimes life happens, and you might be running a little late due to public transport delays or a family emergency. Always call ahead to let the relevant individuals know you are going to be late and apologize. You could get a serviced apartment in London to stay closer to your meetings and avoid travelling considerable distances to the office.
Do dress to impress
It is important to check the dress code of the industry or business you are entering. Most people dress conservatively in traditional business wear in the corporate world – for example, a dark coloured suit or formal dress. More creative industries tend to dress ‘smart casual’ and prefer you to dress a little more informally, such as jeans, trainers, and a formal shirt.
Don’t order people around
Politeness is an integral part of how business is done in the UK. Instead of giving someone orders, ask them politely to do a task instead. Subtle mannerisms are valued in UK business can gain you a lot of respect over time.
Don’t give gifts
In corporate businesses a simple ‘thank you is preferred over an elaborate gift. When you finish a project or meeting, shake hands, and thank the individual for their time. If you are celebrating a colleague’s new job or promotion, it is appropriate to give them a small gift like a pen or diary. However, expensive gifts can make people feel uncomfortable and might not be suitable for a business setting.
Sometimes the UK business world can be perceived as cold and reserved. It’s essential to be respectful of British customs while also reaching out to your new colleagues and making the most of networking opportunities.