Transitioning into the American workplace can be a major cultural change. From business practices, to coworker relationships, you may find that the American workplace differs from your home country. Here are a few tips for understanding your new environment.
American English is Not UK English.
You already speak the language, and that’s half the battle, but be prepared that US and UK English have some major differences. American English is functional, direct, and low-context. Often times because of these differences things such as irony are lost between the languages.
Also, beware of words that have different meanings in US English. Here is a list of major vocabulary differences between British English and American English.
Business Before Pleasure
The American workplace is very task oriented, most professionals want to get straight down to business. This means that when meeting new people they often skip the ‘getting-to-know you’ phase and move straight to talk of business at hand. Don’t worry, it is not intended to offend you, it is simply part of the time-management culture. Be patient, these business relationships will develop over time.
The American Work Schedule
A major adjustment for those newly entering the American workplace is the schedule. American offices are generally open Monday through Friday between the hours of 9am and 5pm. The major difference can be found in the paid time off. While many countries are accustomed to taking off long holidays, in the US most professionals start with 2-3 weeks of vacation time per year. This time is typically taken in 5-7 day increments. Of course every company operates differently, speak to the Human Resources department of your new company to understand your company benefits.