England is arrogant

Traveling the UK on business: what to look for

The most important facts about the economy

The UK is a service economy, with services accounting for 79% of GDP. In addition, the country is one of the world leaders in engineering and manufacturing. It has a high density of incubators and funding and innovation programs that support the start-up scene not just in London but across the country.

The backbone of the UK economy is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which make up 99.3% of the UK's operations and employ 60% of the private sector. In addition, there is a strong culture of self-employment in the UK. More and more people are working as freelancers or self-employed consultants.

Work culture

  • Working hours in the UK are usually between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Home work is widespread. You can find an overview of the UK bank holidays here.
  • Business is often done outside of the office, meetings take place in restaurants, cafes or private clubs.
  • Most UK companies still have a strong hierarchy. At the same time, teamwork plays an important role in the UK work culture.
  • Social media are essential for communicating with customers and partners in the UK.

Business etiquette

  • It is customary to address yourself by first name right from the start. However, it doesn't hurt to leave the initiative to the British business partner.
  • In contrast to what is customary in Switzerland, the term “doctor” is generally only used by doctors. It can seem arrogant if you introduce yourself in the wrong context.
  • Politeness is an important part of UK business culture and is often a source of confusion for foreigners. Be careful not to express disapproval or disapproval directly. Otherwise you could offend someone. Also, don't assume that your ideas will go down well just because you get a positive answer. For example, if your UK colleague says, "Maybe ... this could be interesting", it means that they are probably not that enthusiastic about your idea. The key here is to read between the lines.
  • Brits are often open to conversation and willing to listen, even if they are of little interest. So don't overestimate the interest of others in your ideas.

The art of conversation

  • In the UK, humor and understatement are often used in business communications to break the ice or to lift spirits. Again, you need to read between the lines.
  • Pubs are part of British cultural life. Colleagues often meet here after work. Foreigners are always welcome to participate in these socializing activities.
  • Networking events, trade shows, and conferences are very good ways to effectively gauge potential market interest. There are many different offers available to you here. Meetup groups also offer informal opportunities for networking that should not be underestimated.

Would you like to learn more about British culture? Take a look at our factsheet (in English) in the download area below!

Are you interested in the UK as a business location?

We support you with your entry into the British market: with specific information, competent advice and an outstanding network of experts. Our consultant for the UK and Ireland Nadja Kolb We will be happy to keep you informed about the most important developments in the UK market, help you with contacts and partners and show you new business opportunities.