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British business culture guide - Learn about the UK
 

British business culture guide - Learn about the UK

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http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in the UK. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project, which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at ...

http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in the UK. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project, which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at business communication, business etiquette, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance and social media guide.

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    British business culture guide - Learn about the UK British business culture guide - Learn about the UK Document Transcript

    •            |  1     businessculture.org Business Culture in the UK   http://businessculture.org/northerneurope/uk-business-culture/ Content Template Last updated: 30.09.2013 businessculture.org   This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the view only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Content  Germany  
    •            |  2     TABLE  OF  CONTENTS   Business  Culture  in  the  UK  ........................................................................................................  4   Xenophobia: being a foreigner in the UK ........................................................................................... 5   International business in the UK ......................................................................................................... 6   General educations ............................................................................................................................... 6   Educational standards .......................................................................................................................... 6   Other issues such as transport infrastructure ....................................................................................... 7   Transportation ..................................................................................................................................... 7   Cultural taboos ..................................................................................................................................... 8   Business  Communication  ..........................................................................................................  9   Face-to-face communication ................................................................................................................ 9   Language Matters................................................................................................................................. 9   Business Relationships ........................................................................................................................ 10   Making contact ................................................................................................................................... 11   Personal Titles .................................................................................................................................... 12   Business  Etiquette  ..................................................................................................................  14   Corporate Social Responsibility ......................................................................................................... 14   Punctuality .......................................................................................................................................... 14   Gift giving ........................................................................................................................................... 15   Business Dress Code ........................................................................................................................... 15   Bribery and corruption ....................................................................................................................... 16   Business  Meeting  Etiquette  ....................................................................................................  17   Importance of Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 17   Business Meeting planning ................................................................................................................. 18   Negotiation process ............................................................................................................................ 18   Meeting protocol ................................................................................................................................ 19   How to Run a Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 19   businessculture.org   Content  UK  
    •            |  3     Follow up letter after meeting with client ........................................................................................... 20   Business meals .................................................................................................................................... 20   Business Meeting tips.......................................................................................................................... 22   Internship  and  placement  .......................................................................................................  23   Work experience................................................................................................................................. 23   Internship and Placement advice ....................................................................................................... 23   Social security and European health insurance ................................................................................. 23   Safety .................................................................................................................................................. 24   Do I need a visa? ................................................................................................................................ 24   Internship and placement salary ........................................................................................................ 24   Internship and placement accommodation ........................................................................................ 24   Cost  of  Living  ...........................................................................................................................  26   Money and Banking ........................................................................................................................... 26   Traveling costs .................................................................................................................................... 27   Work-­‐life  Balance   ....................................................................................................................  28   National holidays ................................................................................................................................ 28   Working hours .................................................................................................................................... 29   Working culture .................................................................................................................................. 29   Health insurance ................................................................................................................................ 30   Social  Media  Guide  .................................................................................................................  31   Private individuals/students ............................................................................................................... 31   SMEs .................................................................................................................................................. 31   Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business ........................................................ 32   businessculture.org   Content  UK  
    •            |  4     Business  Culture  in  the  UK   Did you know about business culture in the UK? Watch this video animation to find out some interesting facts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ldzHbSV5eJA The acronym UK is the abbreviated form of “United Kingdom” or officially the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. The UK is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is a member of the European Union (EU). The term UK is often confused with “Britain” or “Great Britain”, which actually refer to England, Scotland and Wales without Northern Ireland. To add to the confusion, citizens of the UK are called British. The UK is located in the north-western part of Europe and covers an area of 243,610 km2 (94,060 mi2). The home nations (England, Wales and Scotland) and the northeastern part of Ireland (Northern Ireland) are based on the two large islands of Great Britain. The only land border that the UK shares with Europe is in Ireland, where Northern Ireland shares a border with the Republic of Ireland also known as Eire. The UK is surrounded by water, the English Channels to the south, the Irish Sea to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the northwest and the North Sea to the East. London is the capital of the UK, and is also the country’s largest city, in terms of population, and one of the most influential centres in world politics, finance and culture. The 2011 UK census estimated the population of the UK to be over 63 million people. businessculture.org   Content  UK  
    •              |  5   There are two official languages in the UK, English and Welsh. However, over 90% of the population speak English and for the most part Welsh is only spoken in Wales. Other languages and regional dialects exist; for example, Gaelic is spoken in some parts of Scotland, although it is not an official language. The UK can be described as a multi-faith society, although a majority of 59% classed themselves as Christian in the 2011 census. The second most prevalent religion is Muslim which is practised by approximately 5% of the population. The UK is in the Western European Time Zone and observes Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) (CET – 1) during the winter months and British Summer Time (BST) from March to October, to accommodate Daylight Saving Time (DST). All four seasons are experienced throughout the UK, although the climate and temperatures vary according to region. Winters are usually damp and cold, especially in Scotland, with lots of snow particularly in the mountainous areas of the North. Summers are moderately warm and wet. Being an island, rain is a persistent feature for the majority of the country with the North West being the wettest and the South East tending to be the driest. Xenophobia:  being  a  foreigner  in  the  UK   First of all, people in the UK do not like to be embarrassed. In many cases, they simply fear they may say something that the other party finds offensive or which results in misunderstanding. They reason therefore, that the best way to avoid this uncertainty is not to start a conversation at all. Foreigners often find conversations in the UK to be shorter and about general topics such as the weather, which is always popular and often used as an “icebreaker”. The people of the UK value their privacy highly. Although they may appear to be very open in public, the implicit message permeating the culture is ‘please do not interfere with my personal space’. Although the UK is multi-cultural, this privacy requirement forces many people to be rather wary of making new friends. If a foreigner really wants to adapt to British culture and make some valuable connections, they need to be patient and realise that creating such friendships may take longer than anticipated. The high value put on personal space is also visible in everyday life, as when people will avoid sitting next to someone else on a bus or apologise if they touch someone accidentally. Foreign business partners may find that their UK counterparts may even be too polite. People in the UK do not normally criticise or openly complain in public; or even provide negative feedback, when asked for their honest opinion, irrespective of whether or not such comments are warranted. It is therefore essential to read between the lines and seek out the honest opinions of relevant parties. Similarly, foreign business partners need to ensure that they are sending a clear message, so that there is no room for assumptions and no hidden meanings that could be misinterpreted. The British also value politeness and courtesy and, as a matter of course, will express a significant amount of respect when interacting in a business situation, either out of sincerity or simply because they are adhering to cultural norms. Generally, it is probably impossible to develop a thorough understanding of British culture during a short business trip. In order to develop a valuable business relationship with your UK businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  6     counterparts, you should take a long-term approach, respect their values of privacy and politeness, and look for shared interests. International  business  in  the  UK   This section examines the general business environment of the UK. The first section will focus on the attitudes and values of the people. The second section will concentrate on the education system, training and placements in the UK, with particular emphasis on businessrelated matters. General  educations   Education is of a very high standard in the United Kingdom, where the majority (74% of adults aged 25-64) have achieved the equivalent of a high-school diploma. A significant proportion of the population go on to acquire a university education, where a typical undergraduate degree can be attained in three years, in contrast to most other European countries where undergraduate study normally lasts for five years. An undergraduate degree also known as a Bachelor’s degree may be undertaken in any subject, primarily within the schools of Art (BA) or Science (BSc), and is the pre-requisite for entry onto a Master’s degree program. A Master’s degree can normally be completed in twelve months (full time) or two years (part-time) and is usually necessary for acceptance onto a doctoral program or PhD. A Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) is often a stepping stone for professionals who wish to advance into a management role within their respective company or industry. Generally, undergraduate degrees are seen as a basic entry qualification to a career and many business professionals seem to put greater emphasis on the status acquired through experience rather than academic achievements. This is even more evident amongst the more senior staff of an organisation. Therefore, the use of academic titles is uncommon in signatures or on business cards. Very often this is in contrast to the practice in many other European countries where to gain a respected professional status, success needs to be based on a solid academic background. With respect to computer literacy, it is possible to conclude that the younger your colleagues are, the greater the chances of them being proficient and experienced, although there are exceptions. Educational  standards   The UK’s Higher Education System is one of the most developed in the world with some of the leading universities educating business leaders in Business and Management Schools. Due to the highly developed private school education system, comparisons between schools are usually made, especially as to whether someone went to a private or public school (fee paying) or a State school (free of charge). These decisions are made by parents, and in the majority of cases are based on financial factors (private education in elite schools such as Eton, Harrow and Marlborough is very expensive), and often shape the destiny of their pupils. Overall, quality indicators of the educational system, in reading literacy, maths and science, as part of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), are currently slightly above the OECD average. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  7    Other  issues  such  as  transport  infrastructure   For the success of your business endeavours, it is essential to use the correct terminology when referring to the national identity of your counterparts. It is advisable to call people coming from Scotland “Scottish” (not ‘Scotch’ which should only be used when referring to whisky), those from Ireland “Irish”, those from Northern-Ireland “Northern Irish” and those born in Wales “Welsh”. Calling some members of these nationalities “English” may produce surprise or resentment. Transportation   Travelling By Public Transport Major cities in the UK have an integrated transport system combining a rail network, tram or metro system with buses and taxis. Outlying and rural areas are predominantly served by bus services, where frequency and reliability often depend on the profitability of an individual route. Travelling By Train The UK has a comprehensive national rail network, which is privatised and different routes are operated by a number of private companies. It is normal for tickets for intercity routes to be purchased in advance for specific journey times, often with reserved seating. Tickets for short journeys using a regional network are typically purchased as Day Returns at the time of travel and are available from machines or ticket offices at the departure station or from a conductor on board the train. Travelling by Taxi The traditional British taxi is also referred to as a hackney carriage, London Taxi or Black Cab. These are different from private hire vehicles, also referred to as minicabs or private hire, which are licensed to carry people. Hackney carriages have special dispensation to be able to be hailed on the street or hired from a taxi rank. However, minicabs may not be hailed on the street and some can only be used if pre-booked. A tip of 10% is normally given on top of the fare. Travelling By Car The UK is a densely populated country with a road network of varying quality and capacity. Unlike most other European countries, people drive on the left hand side of the road in the UK. This is not a problem if you are arriving from mainland Europe and intending to hire a car, but it is something to be aware of as it may cause confusion, especially in rural areas or where roads are unmarked. There are a few toll roads and bridges and congestion zones in Central London and Durham that foreign drivers should be aware of, but most roads are free of charge. Seat belts must be worn all the time whilst driving and also by all passengers both front and back. You can legally use hands-free phones, satellite navigation systems and 2-way radios when you are driving. However, if the police consider that you might be distracted and not in businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  8     control of your vehicle whilst operating these tools beware – you could still be stopped and fined. The UK has very strict alcohol limits for drivers, it is advised especially if you are driving in a foreign country to not drink and drive since the penalties are severe. Travelling By Plane As a global centre for international trade, the UK has a number of international airports. Major cities such as London have several airports and all have excellent bus or train connections to local and regional transport networks. Cultural  taboos   Although the United Kingdom has a generally open culture, there are some behaviours and topics that are best avoided, particularly at the beginning of a relationship. Behaviours to avoid: • • • • greeting strangers with a kiss gestures such as backslapping and hugging strangers spiting in public asking personal or intimate questions such as “How much money do you earn?” or “Why did you divorce?” Discussion topics to avoid • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • The historical conflict in Northern Ireland Religion (especially if you are in Northern Ireland, Glasgow or Liverpool) The monarchy and the Royal Family Partisan politics The European Union, ‘Brussels’ and the Euro The Middle East Personal questions about a person’s background, religion, occupation. Class and the class system Race and immigration Age Children Appearance or weight Money (“How much do you earn?”) Crime Criticism or complaints in general You should also be aware that many of these questions are regulated in the business environment under various employment and equality laws that are designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  9   Business  Communication   The business practices discussed in this section will apply to the majority of everyday business dealings and situations. However, it is crucial to bear in mind that these recommendations are general indicators of best practice and are subject to contextual and regional variations within. Face-­‐to-­‐face  communication   Introductions depend upon the circumstances of a particular situation. Generally, the best practice is to be introduced by a third party, although this may not always be possible. A handshake is the typical greeting for a new introduction and should not be expected at subsequent meetings. For example, colleagues don’t shake hands every day at work. Beginning a conversation with someone new may be a daunting proposition because of British cultural norms and expectations. It is generally advisable to open a conversation with a neutral topic, such as the weather or something dictated by the immediate situation, such as asking for a recommendation on something to do, eat or drink. It is good practice to start a conversation with open questions rather than subjective assumptions or personal points of view as the reaction of your counterpart is not always predictable. As you will find, many British people are tolerant and open-minded. Some people may derive their opinions from the tabloid press that often depicts the world in black and white terms. In order to create good business relations, you should allow conversations to develop organically, following the lead of the person you are talking you, asking permission if you’d like to talk about potentially sensitive subjects and not being overly negative or sarcastic. As a general observation, people tend to be more open and friendly outside of London and in the North in particular; in fact, there is still a north-south divide in terms of cultural openness in the UK. Some exceptions exist, for example Scottish Highlanders or Welsh farmers will hardly say a word until you get to know each other. Discussions tend to be emotionless and may become tense, with the parties politely excusing themselves and withdrawing. Another difficulty in verbal communication may come from the British penchant for understatement. This sometimes shows itself in seeming self-deprecation and presents a challenge in understanding how things, people and situations are really perceived by the British. For example, what might be described as ‘a bit expensive’ may well really mean ‘very expensive’ and ‘a little problem’ might actually constitute ‘a huge stumbling block’ for a British counterpart. Language  Matters   English is the official and predominantly spoken language in the UK. It is unlikely that many of your British counterparts will speak other languages and even if you speak English, there will be some linguistic differences. Although the majority, especially the younger generation, will have had some language training at school not all of them feel comfortable making mistakes in front of others and businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  10   therefore pretend that they don’t speak other languages. However, be aware that this does not mean that they can’t understand what you are saying. Thus, it is important either to have at least some knowledge of the language or to ensure that appropriate interpreting facilities are available. Although the UK does not constitute a great land area, accents and dialects vary considerably from region to region, which may present even native English speakers with difficulties in verbal communication. Therefore, although it is advisable to become familiar with at least some common phrases, it is completely acceptable to ask for an explanation of anything that you do not understand, or indeed to ask your host to speak more slowly. Foreign language competence amongst British managers is generally poor. This characteristic seems to have its historical roots in times when British companies traded mostly with other English speaking nations and dependencies. At that time, there was virtually no need for knowledge of other languages. In the vast majority of British companies, this historical legacy manifests itself as managers being reluctant to speak any language other than English. If your English language capabilities are not at a satisfactory level, it is strongly advisable to travel with an interpreter. However, using this service deprives you of the unique opportunity of direct contact and, in some cases, may not allow you to develop the business relationship in the way you desire. However, there is some probability that you will encounter a business professional speaking a foreign language as their numbers are continually increasing. More and more managers are becoming aware of the fact that ignorance of foreign languages represents a serious barrier when attempting to expand their business abroad. Even the government realises the importance of this issue and is concerned that poor language skills may severely hamper the country’s ability to promote and protect interests abroad. In the current business environment, it is possible to encounter managers who speak Polish, German, Spanish, Italian or French. Asian languages, including Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi and Gujarati, are also spoken by 2.7% of the UK population. Chinese community is also large with many major cities having “China Towns” and many managers are now learning Mandarin as their foreign language. As with any other languages, when it comes to specific business, legal or technical terms especially when communicating with people from different disciplines, misunderstandings are common. To avoid disputes, you should elaborate and clarify meanings to the point where there can be no room for misinterpretation and no need for assumptions. Business  Relationships   In the UK, an agreement will not normally be final and complete until a written contract has been formally signed and witnessed. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that all the terms and conditions are included in a formal contractual document. In many cases, depending on the size or value of the business, a contract will be subject to review and approval by a solicitor or other expert in British contract law. This is simply a matter of procedural correctness and “due diligence”, which should not be taken personally nor does it cast doubt on the seriousness of the proposal. In fact, having a full written contract that has been professionally reviewed and approved demonstrates both the sincerity of the signatories and their intent to establish a significant and often long-term agreement. Generally, there is a strict separation of business and social matters and therefore you do not necessarily need to make extensive efforts to establish familiarity outside of the business relationship. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  11   On the other hand, it is essential to create an atmosphere of trust, reliability and fairness, as those are values the British appreciate. Following established protocol is critical to building and maintaining business relationships in the UK. Verbal communications are usually confirmed in writing where exact details are set out. Business communications can be difficult to read since the British do not like to offend their business partners and sources of disagreements are not always obvious to detect. British businesspeople often operate an open-door policy. People tend to work with their office door open although counterparts are expected to knock and wait to be invited before entering. In British business, hierarchies are becoming flatter with business units having delegated autonomy, which increases overlapping and means loosely defined responsibilities and fewer distinctions between roles and departments. British management style has a reputation for taking calculated risks and this mentality is at the heart of the innovation drive in many British organisations. Professional rank and status in the UK is generally based on an individual’s achievement and expertise in a given field. Academic titles and backgrounds are not as important in business. Expect a great deal of written communication, both to confirm and to maintain a record of discussions and decisions. Even if you have a friendly or casual relationship with colleagues, you should remember that on-the-job correspondence means that an e-mail is a business letter, in which professionalism should not be forgotten. However, this varies and some individuals might not have a greeting in the email and sign themselves with a single letter – abbreviating their first name. This is increasingly widespread with the adoption of smartphones and tablet devices. In The UK, it is generally not customary to state your full name including first and last name when you answer the phone. In accordance with corporate identity trends, the customary way to answer a phone at a British company is to state the name of the company and a greeting. Making  contact   For the British manager, a handshake is the usual form of greeting on introduction. However, if you are working with someone on a project and meeting over several days, it is possible that you will not be offered a handshake each time – but would simply be greeted verbally. In the same way, after a business meeting if you are going to meet again the next day you might not be offered a handshake. When introduced to someone new you would be expected to shake their hand and say “Nice to meet you” or the more formal “How do you do?” These phrases would normally be responded to in a similar fashion: “Nice to meet you too” or “Fine thank you, how are you?” The handshake should be firm, but take into account the hand of the person you are greeting and match the strength of their handshake. A kiss is not an acceptable greeting in a typical business situation. The normal greetings in the United Kingdom are “Good morning/afternoon/evening.” These are usually followed by another common greeting “How are you?” Do not be tempted to give a full account of the state of your health, as this is simply a courtesy greeting and not usually an actual question. You should not be offended when people address you with a seemingly over familiar name such as “love”, “pet”, “duck”, “chuck”, “mate” or “darling” – these terms vary across the UK. Here you are dealing with regional dialects and cultural conventions that have no deep or hidden meanings. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  12   Traditionally, the British are seen as an emotionally neutral nation. The “Stiff Upper Lip” is a characteristic, which is defined by emotional restraint and courage in difficult situations. Public displays of emotion are still widely regarded as unprofessional and unbecoming, particularly in a business environment. Increasingly, with the influence of North American popular culture, self-disclosure and the sharing of private and personal information is considered to be a form of bonding. The death of the Princess of Wales in 1997 marked an unprecedented moment in British culture, where people felt compelled to share their outpouring of grief in public. The London 2012 Olympic Games also went a long way towards changing foreign perceptions of British culture and demonstrating the warmth and welcoming nature of the British public. For foreigners, it is advisable to avoid explicit gestures and physical contact such as backslapping or hugging and to maintain a sufficient distance not to invade the personal space of anyone around you, except where this cannot be avoided (such as when using public transport, during the rush hour). Unnecessarily long eye contact is also considered an invasion of privacy and can be interpreted as anything from being rude to being a sign of aggression and should therefore be avoided. Personal  Titles   People in Britain usually address each other informally in day-to-day communications using their first names. This is the result of increasingly flat organisational structures and the encouragement of a friendly working environment which is intended to facilitate better team work. This also depends on the culture of the individual organisation and may be dictated by situations, such as at extremely formal events or occasions where a certain naming etiquette must be observed. In addition to social titles (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms), professional and academic titles (Prof. and Dr.) the UK makes use of honorary titles (Sir, Dame, etc.) and hereditary titles (Duke, Earl, Lady, etc.). When meeting your business partners for the first time it is more appropriate to use their surnames following the title for example: Mr (for men), Mrs (for women) and Miss or Ms (for unmarried women). If in doubt it is advisable to be more formal and do not use first name terms until you have been invited to do so. Usually, you will be invited to use someone’s first name at the first meeting; but sometimes it may not happen at all. When referring to women and you are not aware of their marital status use “Ms”. It is worth noting that titles should be used in conjunction with a person’s surname. To address a man in public without mentioning their name use “Sir”. The equivalent form of address for a woman is “Madam”, but the connotations associated with the word means it has fallen out of common usage and may not always be well-received depending on the context. Written correspondence tends also to start with a formal address “Dear Sirs” (if you don’t know the names) and signing with “Yours faithfully”. If you do know the names, the form is “Dear Mr/Mrs X” and ending with “Yours sincerely”. Particularly in email exchange if it is a follow up reply, the need to use “Dear etc.” is not as important and some might simply write the main body of the message and end with “Best wishes” or “Kind regards”. With the increasing use of social media the use of “Dear” and names on networks such as Twitter are not necessary. Overall, it is good practice to keep to a formal form of address until your correspondent indicates that it is acceptable to use first names by signing off a letter or email with their first name only or by inviting businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  13   you to use their first name when meeting or speaking in person. When sending a business email, it is important to use British English, as opposed to American or US English. Similarly, you are encouraged to use the same format of the person’s name as they have signed in their email. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  14   Business  Etiquette     Attitudes and values form the basis of any culture. They reflect the ways people both think and behave. Knowledge of attitudes and values can therefore be of significant importance if you wish to communicate with your counterparts effectively. Ignorance can result in a cultural barrier that may hinder the communication process and have a detrimental effect on the success of your activities in a given country. How important is the work-life balance in the UK? How do they value fairness in business? Although seemingly unimportant and often neglected during the preparation phase, an understanding of such issues may prove to be invaluable when doing business in the UK. The following section will introduce you to the essential attitudes and values you will find in the UK and highlight their implications for business practice. Corporate  Social  Responsibility   Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming more important for businesses in the UK, where there is strong growth in consumer activism thanks to the prevalence of social media and grass roots organisations. The three main themes for CSR in the UK are work place issues (work life balance, human rights, employment); community contribution (big society/social justice) and the environment (sustainability of resources, etc). The UK has subscribed to the Millennium Goals of the United Nations and many business leaders are actively working towards achieving these. The UK Government supports CSR through tax breaks and the encouragement of charitable giving. There are several issues that currently represent sensitive topics for UK society. Most notable is the tax avoidance of large online retailers and international chains exposed by the media in 2013. In times of austerity it is seen as distasteful that such profitable companies should be seeking legal loopholes to reduce their tax liabilities when normal people and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. Waste management is an important environmental topic, due to unsustainable consumption of natural resources and environmental damage caused by excess waste. The sector is currently undergoing a period of substantial change and extensive discussions are taking place in order to find the best solutions to the problem. The United Kingdom is substantially reducing the amount of industrial and commercial waste disposed of in landfill sites and increasingly a growing percentage of household waste is being recycled or composted. Genetically-modified (GM) food has become a major health and environmental issue in the UK. Some authorities argue that people still do not have enough knowledge about the way genes operate to be able to determine the potential long term effects of any modified crops. The United Kingdom is also concerned with global warming and, as a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, continues to reduce greenhouse gasses. This issue is closely linked to another problematic area, that of transport and its impact on the environment and air quality. Punctuality   businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  15   In general, the British value time-keeping for business arrangements. If you set up a meeting for two o’clock, the chances are your counterparts will arrive on time or just before. Since the British are so time conscious, sometimes you may feel their lives are very rushed. In fact, however, they are only doing their best to avoid losing time, which is valued as an economic resource. It is considered very impolite to arrive late for a business meeting. If your delay is inevitable and you arrive late, it is usually sufficient to excuse yourself with an apology. If, however, you are running more than a few minutes late, you should call ahead to apologise and give an indication of how long you will be; in the case of a longer delay that would compromise the value of attending the meeting, you should consider offering to postpone the meeting to a new time and/or day. The busier people are, the greater the likelihood that they will have to leave for another engagement, so respecting their time is very important. Attending social events is slightly different, and guests may be expected to arrive about fifteen minutes after the specified time, but this is contingent on the nature of the event and the number of attendees. You need to be particularly careful when using public transport, as some journeys may take significantly longer than advertised. Public transport, such as trains and buses, is generally reliable although it is recommended to allow extra time, especially if travelling in winter when the transport network is usually unable to cope with even the slightest flurry of snow (unless you are travelling in Scotland). The golden rule is that the more important the appointment, the more time you should allow for potential delays. Gift  giving   Gift Giving is not a usual part of British business etiquette, although reciprocation is good practice when gifts are received. Some organisations are encouraged not to accept any form of gift and some are prevented from doing so on legal grounds. However, where a gift is offered, it is important to ensure that it is not expensive enough to be considered a bribe or so inexpensive as to be considered an insult. There is a large range of suitable gifts to choose from: company greeting cards, pens, books, diaries, alcohol, flowers, souvenirs from the visitors’ country or invitations to a cultural event etc. If a gift is received in public, it is advisable to open it immediately and express your gratitude to the giver. Usually, the successful conclusion of negotiations presents an ideal opportunity for gift giving. Here the meaning is an acknowledgement of the occasion. Ideally, such gifts will be gold, silver or porcelain and it is important to consider the suitability of the gift and the taste of the recipient. It is not usual to exchange business gifts at Christmas; however, it is still good practice to send a greetings card to express thanks to your business counterparts. If you receive an invitation to dinner or a party at the home of one of your business colleagues, it is normal to bring a bottle of wine and possibly a small gift such as flowers or chocolates. When giving flowers beware that red roses (which signify romantic intentions) and white lilies (which express grief and are used for funerals) are best avoided. Business  Dress  Code   When it comes to business dress codes, classical conservative attire is the norm for both men and women in British culture and dark colours such as black, dark blue and charcoal grey are predominant. It is common for women to wear either trousers or a skirt in an office environment, and headscarves are accepted as part of religious freedom. Many senior managers are fond of quality and businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  16   express their status through their choice of clothing. Shopping in designer boutiques is popular among British society and bespoke suits, designer shirts, silk ties and hand-made shoes are signs of affluence and status. Denim is not normally acceptable for professional business meetings and the Scots do not wear kilts to work. When in doubt about the dress code for a particular business event, it is advisable to be overdressed rather than risk making a poor impression. It is always relatively easy to hire suitable attire for special events; your efforts will be appreciated and you will feel that you are fitting in. Many organisations provide their non-professional employees with a work-based uniform, which enables everyone to look ‘corporate’ and reflects a certain image of the company. The type of uniform, whether smart or more casual, will give you a good understanding of the type of organisation and the culture to be found there. Many companies are adopting ‘informal’ smart casual uniforms, which are comfortable to wear, but still present a professional image for the company. Dress code inevitably varies across industries. In the creative sectors (e.g. digital marketing) a more relaxed dress code is common – just a shirt and trousers. Numerous office-based organisations have introduced Casual Friday, Casual Day or Dress-Down Friday, where a more relaxed dress code (and hopefully increased creativity) is encouraged based on the California inspired Dot Com Business Culture. If unsure of the dress code and what to wear, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a representative from the company. It is often better to find out in advance, so you can make any necessary changes before your introduction to the company. This will put you at ease and make you more relaxed in your encounters with the company representatives. Bribery  and  corruption   A highly valued sense of fairness is probably the reason why the British are an honest nation with relatively low levels of corruption. This has been confirmed in a recent report (2012) by the Global Coalition against Corruption, Transparency International and the United Kingdom has regularly ranked in the top 10% in the International Corruption Perception Index, which compares countries from all over the world. Bribery and corruption are generally taken very seriously in the United Kingdom and the chances of a bribe being accepted are very low. The risks are too high and it is strongly advisable not to try to bribe anyone. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  17   Business  Meeting  Etiquette     Business meetings remain an intrinsic feature of corporate life in the United Kingdom. They vary in their nature and content, but are seen as a key element of business communications. Senior managers and directors will often have personal assistants who plan their diaries and meetings to fit into their working day. It is often necessary to plan a long time ahead when arranging meetings with senior executives, as diaries tend to be booked up well in advance. It is good practice to ensure that agendas are circulated in advance of any meeting, to enable everyone to be fully prepared. Locations of meetings, attendance lists, and any required equipment, e.g. computer and projection equipment need to be planned in advance. Meetings should be structured carefully so they keep to time, follow the agenda, and are chaired effectively with minutes taken by an appropriate person. The use of technology has extended its influence into the world of meetings; video conferencing and conference calls mean that managers do not have to travel too far to attend a meeting. This saves the organisation costs in travel and time, but does not allow face-to-face personal contact, which some cultures may find unsatisfactory. Any contributions to meetings should be thought through to ensure that what is said is of value to the meeting and to the organisation as a whole. In the UK, it is expected that any action items arising from the meeting are documented, and circulated to all attendees. A person should be nominated, usually the person chairing the meeting, to review the action items from the previous meeting, to ensure that progress has been made as expected and any matters arising are dealt with. At formal meetings, minutes may be taken by a secretary and circulated afterwards. Importance  of  Business  Meeting   It is good practice to make meeting appointments at least a few days in advance. After arrival in the country, you should always confirm the details of any meeting by telephone or email and ask for directions to the meeting venue, if these details are not provided or are unclear. Although the British have a reputation for respecting rules and for time-keeping, their cultural awareness provides some degree of tolerance when dealing with foreigners. You do not need to panic if something goes wrong during your stay and interferes with your schedule. This is simply a matter of keeping all the affected parties informed and telephoning to cancel or reschedule your appointments. The chances are that any business contact will understand and be more than willing to help you. The most suitable time to arrange a business meeting is probably about 10am., particularly in the initial stages of negotiations. It is unlikely that a first meeting would take place over a meal, however this depends on the parties involved and the context of the meeting. In the United Kingdom, you should not attempt to approach a business partner unannounced. When meeting someone for the first time, most managers will value some advance information about the company you represent. This will enable them to establish some basic details about your company, which will save time at the meeting and increase your credibility. It is also useful for you, if visiting a company in the UK for the first time, to find out some information about that company so that you businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  18   can understand more about their business culture, interests and where there may be opportunities and synergies that can be leveraged. Recognising that meetings take up a lot of time and are often not very productive, some UK companies have introduced a meetings policy. If you are new to a company, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with all company policies as quickly as possible. A few companies in the UK have adopted some US and Japanese practices in restricting meetings to a very brief time, to ensure that managers keep focussed on what needs to be discussed. One leading supermarket for example, removed all the chairs from its meeting room; because attendees had to stand, this kept the meetings short and focussed. This is rare, but it is worth checking to see what the format, content and style of a meeting will be, so that you are adequately prepared, mentally as well as physically. Business  Meeting  planning   Organisations differ, but in the main there will be a secretary or Personal Assistant (PA) who controls the diary of the manager you are visiting. The best way to set up a meeting is to arrange it with this person, and then call the day before to confirm your attendance. You are advised to check in advance if any resources or equipment you require are available, to prevent delays or embarrassment at the meeting. Meetings can be confirmed via email and the majority of UK organisations use this method. The agenda and names of the attendees are often circulated in advance of the meeting. Whilst many managers do work longer than the official 9am to 5.30pm, it is rare for meetings to be held outside this time. Normally, the time executives spend in their offices outside of these hours is set aside for them to catch up on work and correspondence they have not been able to get on top of during the day. Punctuality is expected and appreciated in the UK, but no one really minds if you arrive a few minutes late for a one-to-one meeting, provided there is a good reason e.g. traffic. Obviously, if more people are involved, there is a greater likelihood that someone will have another engagement to attend. Finally, it should be remembered that the transport network in the UK can frequently cause delays, which means you should always allow additional travelling time, especially when travelling to an important meeting. Local radio stations provide detailed travel information throughout the day, so if you get stuck in traffic, it is advisable to tune into a local station and telephone the person you are meeting if you are going to be late. This will enable the meeting chairperson to decide whether to wait, or whether to start the meeting as planned and give your apologies. Please beware that use of a mobile phone is not legal whilst driving. So, you should park in a safe place to make or answer any phone calls or use hands free kit. Negotiation  process   It is advisable to send a senior manager to discuss business issues in the UK rather than a junior employee. This stems from a certain degree of distrust of young managers that is still rooted in British culture. This does not necessarily mean that British managers find young people to be incompetent. Some senior managers may have relatively few formal qualifications and may traditionally value experience and expertise as indicators of success. Moreover, sending senior individuals provides more credibility and a sense of authority, which is essential for successful business negotiations. However, businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  19   these attitudes are gradually changing and it is probable that in modern companies and young industries such as Information Technology, these findings may not necessarily hold true. Although discrimination on the basis of sex, race, age and other protected characteristics is unlawful in the United Kingdom under the Equality Act 2010, it is still possible to come across an “unreconstructed manager”. This varies depending on the industry and location of the company you are visiting, with knowledge-based companies often being more liberal compared to traditional manufacturing organisations. If you encounter prejudice or discrimination in your dealings with a British manager, you should maintain a professional demeanour and seek advice or instructions from your own company or an agent that you may be working with in the UK. During the negotiation process, it is necessary to keep in mind that British business professionals often approach their work in a detached and emotionless way. They will tend to look for objective facts and solid evidence, so emotional persuasion techniques are usually a waste of time. Personal bonds also seem to have little relevance for business in the UK, which differs from other European countries. Aggressive selling techniques such as derogatory remarks about the competition, on the other hand, will probably have very little positive influence on your business partners and may actually be counterproductive. Similarly, any facial expressions tend to be kept to a minimum, thus making it difficult to guess the thoughts and opinions of British negotiators. This behaviour is not suspicious or mistrustful; it is just the typical professional approach. Also, it is advisable to be aware of the hierarchical structure of the particular organisation with which you are dealing. In the UK, it is common for companies to declare that they value teamwork and democracy even though, in practice, the senior manager is the person who makes the final decision. Meeting  protocol   The traditional greeting among British managers is a light but firm handshake accompanied by a polite greeting. In general, British people are more reserved than continental Europeans and you should refrain from physical contact apart from the initial handshake. Smiling, on the other hand, particularly at the initial stage of an encounter is considered an expression of positive intentions. It is also worth mentioning that it is not normal practice to shake hands with or greet everyone on entering a room full of people. Sometimes at the start of a meeting, with many attendees, the chairperson will arrange to go around the table, with each person introducing themselves, with their name and job title, and if external to the organisation, the company they represent. How  to  Run  a  Business  Meeting   When running a meeting, the most important factor to be aware of is the planning and preparation necessary to ensure the meeting achieves its objectives. Hence, the agenda for the meeting should stipulate clearly who is invited, the meeting location, date, time and what is expected to be discussed. Individual communications with attendees might be necessary to explain the expected format of the content. Increasingly, meetings are placing emphasise on shorter presentations and give more focus to discussion and question and answer type activities. Although the agenda is usually followed, people are not stopped if they digress and are allowed to explore related matters in detail. It is not uncommon businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  20   that meetings finish with an agreement for another follow up meeting with decisions on the current meeting’s main objectives not having been made. It is important to ensure that all required attendees are aware of the meeting, and of any necessary work they may need to do in advance. Attendees are always expected to confirm their attendance and may sometimes put forward a replacement delegate, if they are unable to attend themselves. It is also important to ensure a meeting location is appropriate, that the room has all the required facilities, and enough space for the numbers likely to attend. If you are responsible for the meeting, it is advisable to arrive early to check the room layout, chairs, desk or tables etc. If people arrive to find a shortage of chairs, it will delay the start of the meeting and cause unnecessary disruption. If a meeting includes non-English speaking attendees, it may be necessary to ensure that an interpreter is available, which should be arranged several weeks ahead of the meeting. Any presentations that have been completed and sent in advance may need to be checked and pre-loaded onto the computer that will be used for the meeting or duplicated for distribution in print. Some organisations prefer PowerPoint presentations and meeting documents to be circulated in advance of the meeting, so that all attendees are able to review any materials that will need to be discussed. This often increases the efficiency of the meeting, freeing up more time for valuable debate and discussion and helping to advance business goals. It is courteous in the UK to allow other people to speak, and not to interrupt them while they do. It is also useful to obtain feedback after the meeting and establish what the attendees thought of the content and the discussion. It is considered helpful to acknowledge others’ points and, if necessary, agree to disagree; but at no time should you lose your temper or let your behaviour become overly animated. Follow  up  letter  after  meeting  with  client   The minutes of any formal meeting will usually be circulated for comment and approval after the meeting has concluded. Actions for any decisions that were taken, including the attribution of responsibilities and deadlines applicable will normally be included in the minutes of group meetings and should always be reviewed. In one-to-one meetings, individuals are normally responsible for making their own record of any important points of discussion and action items. It is important that action items are followed up and completed within the timescales agreed in order to maintain credibility and prove that the responsibility was well-placed. Many executives will be impressed by a prompt follow up of actions agreed at the meeting. It is perfectly acceptable to make a telephone call to the attendees of the meeting before the next meeting, to follow up on the progress of any action items or clarify any questions that may have arisen. It is generally normal practice for managers to brief their teams on the outcomes of the meetings they have attended, unless these are subject to confidentiality. It is good to ensure that open communication channels exist within teams, and if you are joining such a team you should expect this approach. The other area that can be followed up after a meeting is any learning that has emerged from the meeting. Any items discussed that were not fully understood should be researched before any future meeting. This will help to improve confidence and motivation within your team. Business  meals   businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  21     It is becoming increasingly common for business referral networking to take place in the context of a working lunch or an evening meal. Through the use of social media networks such as LinkedIn and Eventbrite, it is possible to find numerous local business groups and networking opportunities. Britain has some of the most prominent and expensive restaurants in the world, particularly in London and other major cities. Most towns and cities offer a variety of cuisines, particularly Italian and French inspired restaurant chains, as well as the multinational chains of fast food establishments. Larger cities will often host a choice of Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, American, Thai, and Japanese restaurants with multicultural cities like Manchester and London being able to cater for the most demanding of tastes. In recent years, British food culture has seen the increasing popularity of “gastro pubs”, where high quality restaurant food is served in a more casual public house environment, often with a good selection of drinks and real ales served on the premises. Probably the most famous national dish is Fish & Chips, typically battered cod, haddock or pollock with a portion of chipped potatoes, deep fried and sprinkled with salt and vinegar. This dish is available from numerous local fast food shops selling take-away meals. In England, another very traditional dish is the Sunday Roast, most often this is a joint of beef, roasted in the oven with potatoes and served with Yorkshire pudding, mixed seasonal vegetables and gravy. Most pubs, hotels and brasserie-style restaurants offer a carvery roast dinner on Sundays as a comparatively inexpensive menu option. In Scotland, a very traditional dish would be boiled Haggis served with mashed potatoes and turnips; and in Wales you would find Cawl, a rich stew made with Welsh lamb, leeks, parsnips, swede, potatoes and carrots. Generally, every region has its own specialty dishes and it is one of the most pleasant experiences to discover the various tastes that are available. In the UK, meals with work colleagues are more often the subject of social or festive gatherings than formal opportunities to discuss business and may include spouses or partners, depending on the occasion. Therefore, it is acceptable to use any such events as an opportunity for informal discussions and the development of social bonds. It is important to take note of the exact time of the meal and understand the various terms that may be used to refer to any proposed meal: • Breakfast is the first meal of the day and may be served up until 11.30am; • Brunch is a mid-morning meal which features breakfast and lunch menu items; • Lunch or luncheon is the midday meal and can be served anywhere from 11.30am to 2.30pm; • Tea will frequently refer to a late afternoon meal, somewhere between 3pm and 6pm; • Dinner predominantly describes the main evening meal, traditionally served before 8pm, although the exact time will vary for convenience and personal preference; • Supper is often a light evening meal, served up until 11pm at night. Confusion around meal times is rife and, in fact, the British will also use some of the words interchangeably with meanings often influenced by local dialects. For example, a fish supper in Scotland is actually a very large portion of fish and chips, which can be eaten at any time of day. The words dinner and lunch are reversed in some areas in which case tea replaces the word dinner which simply refers to the main hot meal of the day. Also, different food names can have different meanings depending on which area of the country you are in. If in doubt, it is advisable to ask a local person for clarification. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  22   Generally, British managers are very willing to discuss business matters over a meal, where the intention is clear beforehand. The golden rule is to follow the lead of your host since people will inevitably differ in terms of their business entertaining practice. Over the last few decades, the practice of inviting business colleagues into your home has diminished considerably and the vast majority of business meals take place in restaurants, pubs or cafes. Business  Meeting  tips   It is good practice to start a business meeting with an informal conversation about a general topic. This will help to ‘break the ice’ and make the participants feel comfortable. For any external meetings with new contacts or companies, ensure you bring enough business cards and materials about your company. The ideal time for handing out business cards will depend on the context of the meeting, but generally this will be at the beginning of the meeting. Negotiations are usually open and flexible and the British will favour a collaborative win/win approach to agreements. Remember to respect people’s personal space and always maintain a respectful distance. Do make direct eye contact with your British business partner, but use some discretion so as not to stare and be considered impolite or rude. Watch out for subtle communication that may be disguised as seemingly humorous or sarcastic remarks, not that there are always hidden meanings to such remarks. When entering a building for the first time, a doorman, receptionist or personal assistant (PA) are often the first people you encounter. A ‘Good morning/afternoon’ greeting and then explaining who you are there to see will suffice. You will probably be asked to sign a visitors’ book, in accordance with fire safety regulations for most business premises. Depending on the security procedures of the company you are visiting, you may also need to be issued with a visitor pass and be escorted onto the premises. If you are asked to wait a short while for the person you are there to see, this time may be used to chat informally. With strangers, the British tend to make small talk on fairly inconsequential topics like the weather, commenting on whether it is raining, or brilliant sunshine outside for example. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  23   Internship  and  placement     Work  experience   During undergraduate studies, most courses will provide students with the option to incorporate a placement year either working in a foreign company or studying at a partner University. Most employers pay their placement students for the time they work, and the rate varies between industries and areas. The academic courses that offer placements can be both at undergraduate (Bachelor) and postgraduate (Masters) levels, but expectations will vary between universities and even amongst programmes within the same University. Depending on where and what you study, placements may be compulsory. Even though some students choose to go abroad for an internship, the majority of students do their placement within the UK. To get a placement in the UK, you need to apply with a CV and application letter, often through a website or by email. Most UK universities have a good network of companies where they place students and hold recruitment events on campus. Universities are involved in the entire process, from approving the suitability of the placement, checking the conditions of the working environment, ensuring insurances and procedures are in place to protect to the student, to matching student candidates with placement opportunities and ensuring the student is adequately prepared. The placement process is managed by coordinators working within the student placements office who are typically the first point of contact for both students and employers. As student placements are in high demand, students are often expected to seek out their own placement opportunity. Therefore, placement coordinators are also able to assist with the research and application process for selfdetermined placements. Due to the length of the application and approval process, placement applications have to be submitted well in advance, following the respective University’s application procedure. Foreign students in particular have to ensure that sufficient time is allowed for the application process and pay attention to any restrictions or special requirements that may affect taking a paid work placement in the UK. Numerous universities therefore offer volunteering opportunities to international students who are ineligible for paid placements in order that they can still benefit from work experience. In general, you are unlikely to receive feedback on your application; if you have not heard anything after a stipulated time, you can assume that you have not been shortlisted for interview. If you are invited to an interview or an assessment session you are likely to receive feedback on your performance and be told the reasons why you have or have not been selected. Internship  and  Placement  advice   There are many practical issues relating to international placements that need to be taken care of either by the trainee or the host company and preparations often begin six months or more in advance of the start date to allow time for all the necessary formalities and arrangements to be completed. Social  security  and  European  health  insurance   businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  24   It is a good idea to find out before your arrival whether you will require health and personal possessions insurance. If you are coming from an EU/EEA country, you might not need to have accident and health insurance, but being insured is still highly recommended. As a foreign student, relevant insurances to consider are health, accident and travel insurances. National Insurance number In order to work legitimately within the UK, you will have to register with the UK Government for taxation purposes and will be issued with a National Insurance number. It is very important for you to have this in place before you start your work placement. In order to get your National Insurance number you have to have the right to study or work in the UK. Safety   The UK is generally a very safe place with a low crime rate. However, internationally motivated terrorism attacks do occur and tend to happen in major cities. Other crimes include pickpocketing and theft from unattended vehicles again especially in larger cities and tourist areas. It is therefore important to be careful of your purse, mobile telephone or backpack in crowded public places. There is one standardized emergency number across the UK. You can dial 999 from any telephone, free of charge, 24 hours a day to reach the police, ambulance or fire emergency services. All emergency services have a strong local presence and can be expected to reach the scene within a few minutes to render assistance. Do  I  need  a  visa?   Depending on the country you are coming from, you might need to get a Visa before you can work in the UK. Immigration is a major political issue in the UK and this means that there are frequent adjustments to visa requirements. Therefore, it is always best to confirm your status with the UK Border Agency or equivalent organisation. Internship  and  placement  salary   As in other countries, internships in the UK can be paid or unpaid and there is no universal wage you can expect. It is reasonable for placements to be compensated at a wage that is approximately half of the starting salary for the job that is being apprenticed. In the UK, employees are entitled to a minimum wage, which guarantees a certain standard of living. However, interns are not necessarily recognised as employees and students who are required to do an internship for less than 1 year as part of their studies are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage. This is an important consideration for both the trainee and the host company, especially for placements in London, where the costs of living can vastly exceed a student’s resources. Internship  and  placement  accommodation   Doing a placement in the UK often means finding your own accommodation, although there are exceptions. In certain industries, such as the hospitality industry, accommodation and food may be provided to staff, and this can help to reduce expenses. Otherwise, renting is common in the UK and furnished rooms are readily available for short-term lets. Rent is normally paid on a monthly basis and businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  25   a deposit (approximately three months rent in advance) has to be paid prior to the handover of keys. Again, London is extremely expensive, with high rents in the central region or long and expensive commutes from the outlying suburbs and conurbations. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  26   Cost  of  Living     Usually, students are expected to be able to cover their living costs independently. Compared with most European countries, the UK can be expensive; although compared to Scandinavian countries, the cost of living in the UK is low. However, as with everywhere, the cost of living will depend on what you do and where you live. The largest expense is usually rent, which can range from as little as £300 per month in some areas like Manchester, to almost six times that in central London, where you might have to pay upwards of £2,000. Other areas of London with access to the Tube underground stations and bus routes will generally cost less depending on the area and its location. Some universities and organisations, such as the British Council, offer grants to help international students, but you would need to speak to university representatives who can offer more advice on the available options. Money  and  Banking   Payment for goods in the UK is made, as in most countries, using cash or debit cards and credit cards. Almost all everyday money transfers – salary, rent, telephone, credit card payments, etc. can be made directly via an online bank account:. The British Pound Sterling £ – GBP is the accepted currency when paying in cash. Some stores and tourist attractions in larger cities may accept the Euro and major international currencies; however, the exchange rate will be less favourable compared to payment in GBPs. If you plan to stay in the UK for an extended period, you will need to open a bank account. The most widespread type of account in the UK is the current account and this could be with a bank or a building society. Being mainly a services and especially financial services focused economy, most international banks are represented in the UK. Once you’ve opened a current account, you can apply for a credit card and both MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted throughout the UK. To apply for an account, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient financial means, either in the form of regular incoming payments or through the deposit of substantial funds, and evidence from credit checks. Payment by credit card or cash is most common in the UK and although many businesses still accept payment by cheque, these normally have to be authenticated with a cheque guarantee card. For foreign travel and internet shopping, the possession of a credit card is essential, although online payment systems via providers such as PayPal, PayYours and Nochex are also increasingly common. European businesses wishing to expand into the UK can benefit from access to the UK financial markets and capital funds. Companies usually choose between three main types of funding. They can apply for loans at any of the commercial banks operating in the UK; however, the acceptance of their application depends on their particular situation and the attractiveness of their business plan. Another option is to find a physical or legal entity to co-fund your business. In England, there are currently 18,000 informal investors or ‘business angels’ who are constantly looking for investment opportunities. With some degree of luck, it is possible to find a suitable partner willing to share and invest their capital in your venture. Increasingly, both investors and entrepreneurs are using online crowd funding schemes to increase their reach. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  27     The UK Government is active in supporting innovation and business growth through a number of grant initiatives. More information about how to apply for a government grant can be accessed from the IS4PROFIT Business Profit Organisation. Major Banks in the UK include: • HSBC • Royal Bank of Scotland • Lloyds banking group • Barclays • Co-operative bank • Tesco Bank • Sainsbury’s Bank • Standard Chartered Traveling  costs   Unless your employer has stipulated otherwise, travelling costs have to be covered by you. Some companies reimburse travel costs for interviews, but most will only cover your costs for travel within the UK. It is always best to clarify the arrangements with the organisation you are planning to work for. If your travel costs can be reimbursed, you would have to produce copies of receipts. If you are a student and have to travel during your placement year most public transport networks have special student rates, so having proof of student status with you at all times is very helpful in reducing travel costs. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  28   Work-­‐life  Balance     The British are increasingly aware of the issue of work-life balance. The dynamic nature of the economy and fast-paced business environment forces many employees to work quite long hours. Customers in such an advanced economy expect to receive service at times that suit them, which in turn requires many employees to work extra hours. In many cases, family life may give way to the career of one or even both parents. UK organisations are however, becoming ever more aware of the business case for a positive work-life balance and many of them are implementing policies intended to reduce the pressure of work on private life. The current thinking is that an improved work-life balance can help all parties – the organisation, the individual and the customer. Although the working week is officially limited to 48 hours, the UK has opted out of the European Working Time Directive, which means that some employees may work more hours by written consent. The two most frequent concerns amongst UK employees are long hours and the intensity of work. In fact, many employees say they are working as hard as they can and could not imagine being able to work any harder. All these factors contribute to awareness of work-life balance as a pressing issue and how work demands often stand in the way of family commitments. It is not uncommon for managers to take their work home almost every day. For many professional workers, Internet access and mobile phones represent a complete loss of privacy and downtime, even when at home. Naturally, this has a negative impact on the family unit in the United Kingdom. Only a small percentage of employers have family-friendly policies or personal support services in place to moderate the situation; however, this is gradually increasing. National  holidays   The UK has relatively few public holidays compared to other European countries, which are usually referred to as ‘Bank Holidays’; the original meaning comes from the fact that these were days when banks would officially be closed. Most retail shops now stay open on public holidays in order to take advantage of customer demand, even though this practice is against the principal that Bank Holidays exist in order to give the employee a break from work. People who agree to work on Bank Holidays generally get paid extra for their efforts. People normally take advantage of bank holidays in order to do activities that they may not get the opportunity to do on a more frequent basis, including shopping for clothing or household items, or visiting theme parks or seaside resorts. This means that bank holidays are often the busiest and most profitable trading days for the retail, service and entertainment industries and for the significant parts of the UK economy that revolve around tourism. The UK has a large number of traditional beach resorts, with those in the south west of the country benefiting from a warmer climate and fantastic scenery. Accessibility to travel abroad has become much easier since the year 2000 with the arrival of low cost airlines which provide access to a wide number of European destinations at very reasonable prices. When planning a business trip to the United Kingdom, it is advisable to avoid the months of July and August as this is when many British families take their annual holidays. Similarly, travel during holiday times such as Christmas and Easter would make it more difficult and expensive for business trips. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  29   Due to the relatively small size of the UK, compared to its population, the roads and rail networks tend to get very busy around holiday periods. So, it is best to prepare any travel plans well in advance and to allow additional travel time to ensure your journey is as pleasant as possible. Working  hours   In theory, typical office hours are from 9:00 am. to 5:00 pm., Monday to Friday. In practice, this can vary quite considerably and shift work is now common in the manufacturing and service industries. Most professionals and office workers will have a required or expected start time anywhere from 7am through until 10am and will work an 8-hour day. However, many employees work considerably longer hours and most office workers will be at their desks by 8:30 am. Executives and salaried professionals often work even longer hours as required, in order to get the job done. Sometimes, the British prefer to stay late at the office, rather than take work home with them. This is changing though, and through the introduction of flexible working, sustainable travel and improvements in technology, employees can now start work earlier and end later. Some Government offices particularly in rural areas tend to close for lunch between 1:00 pm. and 2:00 pm. but stay open until 5:30 pm, however the number of such organisations is decreasing, with most working throughout the day. For shops, opening hours have been almost completely deregulated, with some supermarkets opening 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Banks are generally open from 9:30 am. to 4:30 pm. on weekdays, with most now having extended opening hours on one or two evenings in the week and a half day on Saturdays. Shops, restaurants and tourist attractions tend to open longer hours in London and in larger cities around the UK. The UK government has adopted the EU directive preventing employers from forcing employees to work more than 48 hours in a working week, by taking advantage of the “opt out” option. Therefore where employers and employees agree they are able to ‘opt out’ and work additional hours that may be available should they choose to do so. However, few employees regularly work over 48 hours per week with the exception of doctors and those in the hospitality industry. Technological advances have opened up the ability to work at different hours to reflect the time differences around the world. Most of the big financial institutions in the City of London trade 24 hours a day to service the Asian Pacific and American markets. Such employers will have a shift system in operation, so there may be 3 shifts of employees working 8 hours each to provide this cover. Working  culture   Traditional working practices have changed in recent years with the UK becoming a more multicultural and diverse society. Businesses are increasingly trading longer hours to compete in a global economy. The traditional image of a British worker in a pin stripe suit working Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm is long gone. Developments in technology have freed up many workers to work from home. European legislation has enabled part time and temporary workers to be protected by law. All organisations have to comply with legislation designed to protect the workforce in a wide range of areas from equality and health and safety to the minimum wage, which guarantees employees a basic minimum rate of pay. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •              |  30   Businesses also create their own policies and procedures to complement their own values and corporate culture. The best way to establish what these are is by talking to the employees and asking how the organisation works. Many organisations have employee representatives, or trade unions; to protect the interests of the workforce and discuss various employment related subjects with management. Unions and employee representatives are a good source of information about a company or industry although the level of union membership is in decline. Health  insurance   European Economic Area (EEA) citizens have access to free or reduced-cost healthcare in the UK. The National Health Service (NHS) offers free medical care to all UK residents at the point of delivery. If you are visiting from abroad you will need to prove any entitlements and may need to pay fees and reclaim these against your own insurance, if you are ineligible. It is recommended that you find out whether your country of residence has a healthcare agreement with the UK and what rights you might have under that agreement, prior to your date of travel. It is important to note that not all treatments are available on the NHS and only publicly funded health treatment is included in reciprocal healthcare agreements. This means that some treatments can be free, for some you have to pay part of the costs and in other cases the full amount and then claim a refund on your travel insurance. So keep all your bills, prescriptions and receipts and it is always advisable to consider taking out travel insurance for even short business visits. Any medications that are government regulated must be prescribed by a doctor and can only be sold in pharmacies. Prescriptions are charged on a regulated scale, so the cost of medication is subsidised by the government. Medication that does not require a prescription is sold through pharmacies, supermarkets and various retail outlets at market prices. Emergency healthcare is provided by the ambulance service and local hospitals, but if non-emergency hospital treatment is required you must be referred by a doctor. Dental care in the UK is only available free of charge to minors under the age of 18 and those in receipt of government benefits or who meet some other pre-determined criteria. businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  31     Social  Media  Guide     Internet penetration in the UK is one of the highest in Europe with nearly 85% of people being connected to the internet. There are increasing numbers of highly connected individuals and organisations who have access to the internet and social media at work, at home and on the move. In general, British SMEs are quite familiar with the use of social media. In fact, they use a wide range of social media networks for business purposes and acknowledge the way that different networks should be used for specific purposes. Most SMEs are open to developing new skills and acquiring further training. Legislation covering the use of social media is being developed in the UK and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) offers guidance, which stipulates that advertisers’ marketing communications on their websites and social networks should follow the same principles as other media. Private  individuals/students   In the Passport to Trade 2.0 project survey, in the case of students, the most popular social networks are Facebook and YouTube, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. There are significant variations in preference of social media between different age groups. Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn for example are used much more by people aged over 35, whereas YouTube is used mostly by people aged between 18 and 35. Regarding social media etiquette, responses show significant similarities between SMEs and students in the UK. A major difference however, is related to “speaking to people you don’t know” which is seen as acceptable by British SMEs but unacceptable by British students. Therefore, students seem to be more cautious about who they communicate with; a relatively understandable behaviour as they share far more personal information on social media than SMEs. Students have also mentioned some cultural differences. A relatively common difference can be exemplified by the following quote “I’ve noticed that people from different countries, mainly mainland Europe, don’t use their full names on social media sites like Facebook. Instead, they’ll use abbreviations or a middle name in place of their surname”. SMEs   In the UK, social media is increasingly being used by businesses and this was evidenced by the results of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project survey. In fact, British SMEs seem to use a wide range of social networks. Most popular among these are Twitter and LinkedIn, followed closely by Facebook. Due to the high use of Facebook amongst employees it is often blocked in many companies. LinkedIn seems to be particularly useful for companies who are experienced in working with foreign partners and highlights the capacity for international collaborations using social media. The most popular social networks in the UK are: • Facebook • Twitter businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  32     • LinkedIn • Pinterest • MySpace • Google+ There are a number of SMEs that do not currently use social media, this again is industry dependent, either because social media is not important to their business, because they don’t know how to use it, or because of a lack of resources. Search  and  Social  Media  Marketing  for  International  Business   Learn how to use social media for business from one of Salford Business School’s latest business management courses. The course was jointly researched by the Passport to Trade 2.0 project team and prepared in collaboration with some of the leading digital marketing agencies in the UK. This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) can help businesses and individuals to make the best use of search and social media platforms. The course is called Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business and is applicable to students looking for placements abroad as well as businesses thinking about new trade links; it comprises the following twelve topics: How to develop a personal brand online (1/12) • • Whether you are a student beginning a job search or a business person planning a new business venture, personal branding can make a difference. Learn about personal branding and why it is important for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=l9LYw0mgtn4&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  33     How to use Twitter (2/12) • • Learn the basics of using Twitter to develop an individual or business profile. Remember to use hash tag #SSMMUoS to share your learning journey on this course so far! http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=9CVY3pp91Dc&feature=playe r_embedded How to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (3/12) • • Learn the principles of SEO to ensure that your website and any social media profiles are found by individuals searching for your name, products and services. These basic principles of SEO include keyword research, on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=zw27cRcwtM0&feature=player _embedded How to use social media for international business development (4/12) • • Social media networks break down the traditional country barriers, but do you know which networks are relevant for the country you are interested in trading with? Find out in this video how to identify the relevant networks and what social media strategies you might be able to use on these networks. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Bx-B56AHS4c&feature= player_embedded businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  34     How to use Facebook (5/12) • • Facebook is currently the largest social media network in the world and it can benefit you as a business as well as an individual. Learn how to develop a Facebook business page and see how other businesses use it and what strategies work for them. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=UmRGn-vdcO8&feature= player_embedded How to use YouTube (6/12) • • YouTube was identified as the second largest social network amongst younger internet users as part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project. Learn how to optimise your video content in order to reach wider audiences for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=G2 0OVpmTBss How to use LinkedIn (7/12) • • LinkedIn is one of the three main professional social networks – the others being Xing and Viadeo which are also popular in several European countries. Learn how to make the most of LinkedIn for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=N6e_EAUQqic&feature=playe r_embedded businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  35     How to use Google+ (8/12) • • • Google+ is the second largest social network as of January 2013. It is one of the fastest growing social networks and one that has the biggest impact when it comes to search engine results integration for anyone who uses Google as their main search engine. Learn how to make the most of Google+ for you and your digital profiles. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=8ti 3SPHkEWw How to use copywriting online (9/12) • • Copywriting is a process of translating technical specifications and product descriptions into engaging and understandable customer focused text. Learn about the basic techniques in structuring your online content here. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=5f1hx_f2ONI&feature=player_ embedded How to stay legal on social media (10/12) • • Everything and anything you do and say online can be potentially viewed by anyone who has internet access. Always respect the law and familiarise yourself with new options offered to you through a creative commons licence which is popular online. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=eQxDpiHsdk&feature=player_embedde d businessculture.org     Content  UK  
    •            |  36     How to use monitoring and reporting (11/12) • • Whether you are an individual or a business spending time on social media – there has to be a return on your engagement online. How do you justify your engagement on social media to your boss? Listen to the industry experts in this area and see what you might be able to measure in respect of your on-line engagements. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=LbEq7jsG0jg&feature=player_ embedded How to blog (12/12) • • http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=OqVjR7oI8Rs&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     • Blogging is a process of writing text and sharing content with others. It can help your customers or friends to keep in-touch regardless of social media platforms. Think about the voice you might want to adopt and who your audience might be. Share your thoughts with us by writing a blog post about this MOOC. Tweet us the link to your post on the #SSMMUoS Twitter hash tag. Content  UK  
    •              |  37   Passport  to  Trade  2.0  Project  Partnership   Five Universities: Lead partner: Salford Business School, University of Salford, United Kingdom Elena Vasilieva Aleksej Heinze Alex Fenton URENIO research unit at Aristole University of Thessaloniki, Greece Christina Kakderi Nitsa Papadopouloui TSE Entre Research Centre Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland Satu Aaltonen Elisa Akola Institute for Information System Research University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany Verena Hausmann Susan P. Williams Petra Schubert Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania Adriana Grigorescu Leonardo Badea Three Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Spin, Italy Carmine Antonio Donato Dorella De Tommaso Technology Development & Innovation – TDI LTD Bulgaria Milanka Slavova Ivan Stoychev TIS Praha, Czech Republic Anna Klosova Richard Adekeye businessculture.org     Content  UK