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Differences between German and British Work Culture

It’s not uncommon to hear Germans being highly regarded around the world for their supposed workplace and office efficiency. British stereotypes, however, remain based in caution and class structured hierarchies. Despite knowing that stereotypes never truly match up to the reality, it is true that German workers are more productive than the rest of their European neighbours, while still taking more sick days and holidays, especially in comparison to British workers.

A better work-life balance?

One of the reasons that this may be the case is supposedly due to Germany’s better understanding of a work-life balance. By truly finding that sweet spot between work and play, Germans can be far more productive within the office, while also unwinding and relaxing more efficiently.

Lots of references to this balance can be found in German vernacular. ‘Brückentage’, or ‘bridge days’, is a common German adage which means to take time off around bank holidays, where most workers will take an extra day or two off work in order to refuel, preparing themselves mentally for the work ahead. Another common German expression is ‘Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen!’, meaning ‘first work, then pleasure’. While there are similar phrases within English, they are not often heard, and even more uncommonly stuck to. As such, there seems to be an ingrained culture within Germany of working first and then focusing on relaxing, all while understanding that taking time to recharge will help you be more productive in the future.

Sickness

There is a trend within British office works to come to work, even when they are ill, and to downplay any sickness in front of management. While this does lead to more time in the office, it has serious negative effects on productivity and creates the risk of illnesses passing between colleagues. However, in Germany, there is a strong feeling that if you are sick you should stay at home – ‘Wenn man krank ist ist man krank’, translating as ‘when you are sick, you are sick’.

Not only does this mentality protect other office works, but it also allows the individual to rest and recover properly, meaning they are fit for work and more productive in a shorter space of time.

Understanding the differences between office and business cultures is crucial in whether an international expansion is successful or not. At Goodwille, we pride ourselves on helping new companies establish themselves in the UK market, offering advice and services to ensure that your business flourishes in the United Kingdom. For more information about how we can help you, get in touch with us today.