An American Working in London

Cathy is an American who has had a lot of experience working in England and the United States, so she is well qualified to make comparisons. Tessa asks her about the differences between the two countries.


Play Dialogue

Cathy: I work as a production assistant in magazine programmes, BBC radio. I work very closely with producers and editors, helping them to organize programmes.

Tessa: How does it compare working at the BBC in London with working in America?

Cathy: My work experience in the States tended to be in very formal environments. And I remember coming back here to work and feeling that it was much more liberal. People were not so concerned about what you wore. But here, I think casual clothes, jeans, things like that, track suits, running shoes, that sort of thing, are much more acceptable in British companies aside from the traditional fields like law.

Tessa: Are there any other differences that you noticed between America and Britain?

Cathy: Um, yes, I think the way they answer the telephone over there sounds like it’s read from a script on the whole. They’re usually told to answer the phone with the name of the company, followed by their name, followed by “How can I help you?”. For example, they might be told to say “Good morning, South West Travel Agency, Melinda speaking, how can I help you?” – whereas in the UK you tend to just get someone saying “South West Travel Agency”.

Tessa: Do you think it’s easier working in the UK?

Cathy: On the whole I’ve always felt more relaxed in British companies. I’ve worked in the music business, and I’ve worked in films and I’ve worked in broadcasting. And I find that on the whole, companies such as those tend to be more relaxed about dress, about even time-keeping, the hours are more flexible. You work late, but equally you can come in late, which suits my way of living. I’m not a nine-to-five person, which is the type of thing you get more often in the States. For example, a lot of American companies start work at eight-thirty and they expect you to work until five, and an hour lunch break is quite rare.