Published: June 16th 2012June 16th 2012
Transitioning from the American workplace to a European workplace has been an exciting, yet intimidating experience. I am a marketing intern at the company Irresistible Films. This first week of work has taught me a lot about not only the work environment but also how the people interact in the United Kingdom.
When I first entered the office I was initially shocked at the layout of desks and how co-workers interact with one another. I pictured something much like the U.S.--cubicles and blocked off desks. The office is a large room with desks divided into pods for each department. Immediately I felt a very relaxed, yet quick-moving vibe. As the week went on I learned that the office is arranged in this fashion for easy interaction between departments and co-workers (I am stationed near the production team in order to receive quick updates about projects). I used this mentality as I began to venture into London. As I arrived in the UK I held the stereotype that the British are very "snooty" and rude, but the relaxed, open environment in the office erased that stereotype and built upon a new impression--the British are an incredibly friendly and open people. With this in mind I felt much more comfortable asking for directions and talking to people on the street as they do not embody those typical stereotypes.
In my office the workers are also very keen on getting work done the right way instead of the fast way as in the United States. For example, I was recently asked to work on the new Pinterest page by pinning work from the company's website. My supervisor specifically detailed how she wanted the pins displayed and linked and prompted to show me the proper way to complete this task. I ended up fixing many of the pins to meet the specifications, as the company likes all of the social networking pages to be identical in terms of content. The British take their work very seriously! The culture in the workplace here is very much different--getting work right is much more important than simply getting it done. Pinterest has yet to take off in the United Kingdom and I got the vibe that the marketing department wanted to make sure everything met their standards. I had no idea they were so keen on the littlest details. At work in the United States I was used to moving very quickly and "checking things off the list" versus taking the time to complete tasks and work. As I move forward, this is something I plan to keep in mind as I try to mirror the standards of the workplace.
Finally, my co-workers broke those American stereotypes when they welcomed me into the office. I expected them to simply tell me what to do and leave me on my own; however, I was introduced to the company "Bible" to learn the proper protocol, met all of the workers, and introduced myself. I even learned my co-workers' tea and coffee preferences! It really was an irresistible first week of work!