Abroad

Working in a London office isn’t just productive, it’s healthy too

When I got my acceptance letter to the Syracuse University Abroad program for this spring, the prospect of interning in London was an attractive and appealing one. After graduation, I want to become a foreign correspondent, so getting global experience was a top priority for me as I began to prepare for my time in Europe.

I definitely underestimated how different the work culture would be between what I had experienced so far in New York and now in London. Throughout the three weeks I have worked at the Stylus Media Group, the way in which most Londoners go about their work hasn’t ceased to surprise me.

On my first day at Stylus, I walked into the office expecting to be sat in a little corner away from the corporate heads and experts. To my gratification, I was instead given a seat in the middle of a long row of tables where employees worked, along with my own laptop, login information and other small tools to get my work done. There were no private individual offices or any sense of corporate hierarchy. I could be sitting next to the head of the entire office, and I wouldn’t even know it.

In the United States and many parts of the world, office-life is often very status-based, where you climb the corporate ladder with seniority, experience and qualification. At the top of the ladder, this often entails getting a private office, not interacting with people at lower positions and having separate facilities and more.

Things have been different during my internship. I still remember the validating moment when one of my supervisors asked me if I wanted tea, and actually made me a cup. My supervisors treat me like an equal by giving me work they usually do. I’ve been trusted with a fair share of responsibility considering I am just an intern.

In my recent global workforce class, I discovered many other students interning had observed stark differences in work culture, with many praising the structure of a typical day at the office.

This structure is much more efficient and productive than working overtime or taking work home — the norm in many offices. The concept of spending more time at work than necessary is simply unheard of in many London offices.

Keeping work at the office and working for periods of time with breaks in between is a much better way of getting things done as opposed to sitting at a computer for hours. After a certain point, the human body isn’t able to work as effectively.

The way in which the English go about their tasks is impressive. Constant cups of tea and the quick personal conversation here and there are only some of the little things I’ve observed at my office, which seem to make busy days more bearable and tiresome tasks more doable. .

Based on what I have experienced so far, London’s work culture is fabulous because it is a system that gets things done, but factors in a certain human element into its office environment to make life a lot easier for employees.

Who knows, it may even someday make the perfect work atmosphere for me.

Saniya More is a sophomore dual major in international relations and broadcast and digital journalism. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. She can be reached at ssmore@syr.edu.

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