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.


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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.