London is one the world’s top business centres! So, it’s no wonder many venture into England, notably London, for new business prospects or attend business conferences. However, with international business travels come cross-cultural differences: these differences may seem small but can have a great impact on business; hence it is vital to be mindful of these differences and understand important business etiquette.
Here are some tips to avoid potential cultural problems when traveling to England:
British society is very time conscious. Time is considered a highly valuable resource, so lateness is considered extremely impolite. If you’re attending business meetings or conferences, do your utmost to arrive a few minutes early and if for some unforeseen reason you become aware you will be late, inform whoever you should be meeting with.
Tip: It’s not easy to get around London as it is an endlessly busy city. Planning is key: make sure your accommodation is near your appointment locations and close enough to transport links. London has a variety of hotels and holiday apartments that fit all budgets across the most central areas of the city, so you are spoilt for choice.
English business culture is extremely hierarchical – be mindful of titles and formal addresses unless given permission to address people in a more informal manner. The British like as respect personal space, generally there is little to no public displays of affection (usually reserved for family and close friends). Hence, avoid overly familiar behaviour such as patting people on the back or personal touch.
Even though certain industries are modernizing, and more casual dress might be considered acceptable, the safer bet is to opt for professional business attire. In the UK, traditional, well-groomed, clean business attire is still very much appreciated – so at least for your first meeting always choose to wear formal attire.
Decision making process
Don’t be alarmed if people seem to be taking their time to make a final decision. English businesspeople tend to be more interested in long-term relationships rather than quick deals – hence the decision-making process is generally slower and deliberate.
Established rules, laws, facts and evidence drive every decision. Moreover, precedent play an important part in the decision-making process, so any proposal that conforms to previous work stands a better chance of being chosen.