Differences between UK and Indian Work Culture

Major differences between how Brits and Indians work

This article was updated by the Great British Content team on 10 November 2021

If you’re looking to make the transition from being a student in the UK to working here, you’ll find quite a few differences between the work culture in India and the UK. From lunchtime etiquette to taking work home, here’s everything you need to know to help you smoothly transition into a UK workplace.  

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1. Lunchtime etiquette 

It’s very common for Brits to not take a full lunch break at work and to eat (usually sandwiches!) at their desks in order to get more work done. In fact, as many as two-thirds of employees do not take a full hour for their lunch break each day. We’re not encouraging you to do this, but don’t be offended if you ask a colleague to go for lunch with you and they decline in favour of eating at their desk.  

2. Punctuality is key 

Being prompt and on time is a cornerstone to workplaces within the UK. This includes being on time when arriving for your shift or being on time for a business meeting. It’s also not uncommon for people to receive disciplinary action for repeated lateness. Business hours are usually from 9am to 5pm so, whatever you do, don’t be late! 

3. Dress code 

Maintaining a dress code is very important in UK workplace culture. Perhaps you have a work uniform or maybe it’s important you wear a suit to work each day – Brits generally don’t dress down or for comfort in a business setting. It’s important to look the part, especially if you’re having business meetings with external clients. 

4. Politeness, politeness and more politeness 

Brits are known to be super polite – it’s a stereotype that exists because it’s absolutely true and it underpins the workplace culture. Things like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when appropriate, or perhaps offering to make a colleague a tea or coffee if you’re already going to the kitchen are important. Going through a door at the same time as a colleague? The British thing to do would be to say sorry and let the other person go through it first. This is not to say that Brits don’t know how to joke around or be sarcastic, because they most definitely do… 

5. Quieter office environment 

Workplaces in the UK are usually quieter and less manic than in India. When you’re at work, you’re discouraged from using your phone (unless that’s your job) or having loud conversations that distract other people in the office. It’s all about maintaining a level of decorum that is conducive to productivity and for people to concentrate on their work. 

 6. Work-life balance 

Generally, employers in the UK are invaluable when it comes to helping manage their employees’ work-life balance. This usually means having regular support meetings to evaluate everything from the employee’s workload, responsibilities and mental health. Feeling stressed? It’s OK to be honest with your boss – they’ll help you try to manage it in the best way possible. 

7. The pub is the key to making friends 

Worried about making friends? The easiest and best place to go is to the pub for a drink on a Friday evening. Even if you don’t drink, there’s nothing that bonds a team of colleagues together more than having a few beverages (alcoholic or not) while you debrief and let off some steam about the working week you’ve just had. It’s important to make an effort with getting to know your colleagues. 

8. Sick leave and holiday allowance 

One of the best perks about working in the UK is the legal obligation for companies to provide minimum sick leave and holiday allowance. Employees are entitled to a minimum 28 days of paid annual leave each year, as well as up to 28 weeks of sick leave if they have lengthy or serious health issues. A real work perk. 

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