The Differences Between US and UK Offices

They may be united by language and general appearance, but there are plenty of differences to be found between offices in the US and the UK. Here, we take a look at some of the ways in which workspaces in these two countries contrast.

Layout and design

In terms of overall design, not much separates the typical American office from its counterpart across the Atlantic. Open plan layouts are still popular in both countries and the fixtures and fittings that companies choose for their working environments reflect this fact. For example, office screens, which are used to help control noise levels in these large spaces and to give employees extra privacy, are popular accessories in both the US and the UK. Office furniture ranges from Furniture At Work™ and other specialist suppliers tend to include a broad range of screens designed to stand either on the floor or on desks.

However, some differences are beginning to creep into design trends in the two nations. Forward looking companies are increasingly seeking to create innovative, unusual work areas - and American tech giants like Google and Facebook have been leading the charge. Although this fresh approach has started to catch on across the globe, these pioneering US-based firms are still setting the standard, incorporating everything from designated games zones to slides within their workspaces.

Snack time

Snacks are ubiquitous across American and British offices, but the sorts of foods and drinks that people consume at their desks does differ. One trait that the Brits are renowned for is their love of tea and biscuits, and this time-honoured combination shows no sign of falling out of favor in workplaces across the country. This can come as a surprise to people who aren’t familiar with the custom of supping this milky brew at regular intervals throughout the day, but it’s an integral part of the 9-5 for many UK employees.

The way people talk

The conversations people have in US and UK offices can be very different too. Whereas speaking in a direct and assertive manner tends to win people kudos in the States, British workers often favor a more delicate approach. One woman who has experienced this contrast first hand is American Amy Peterson. Speaking to the BBC about her experiences in Britain, she explained that rather than saying he was unhappy with a project, a manager might say something like: “I see what you’re trying to do here, but let’s chat about what else you could do.”

Work-life balance

There is a difference in approach to the work-life balance too. While studies have shown that many employees in both countries work more than a 40-hour week, Brits do at least get more time off in the form of holidays. Full-time workers there are entitled by law to 28 days of paid leave per year. In stark contrast, US workers have no such rights (although many are given the ten days of national holidays). This means that UK workers tend to get more time away from their desks than their equivalents in America.

So, although there are many similarities between workspaces in these two nations, there’s certainly no shortage of divergences.