5 Differences in Working Styles in the UK and Japan
In this article, I would like to talk about the five main differences in working style between the UK and Japan in general.
I hope this article will be helpful to those who are overseas and want to work in Japan, and those who are in Japan and want to work in the UK in the future.
1, Decision Making
In the fast-paced world of business today, decision-making speed is very important. Japanese companies tend to take a long time to make decisions on new changes. While there is a positive side to Japanese people’s diligence, seriousness, and carefulness in completing tasks, there are also times when decision making is very slow due to a sense of stability and an unwillingness to take responsibility when something goes wrong. It is believed that it takes a long time to make new changes without having to go through multiple meetings and get permission from multiple levels.
In comparison, what I found good about British or overseas companies is that they are quick to make changes and take on new challenges. The ability to respond flexibly to sudden situations will often work to your advantage in the business world, on the other hand sometimes these decisions are not as carefully thought though in their implementation.
2, Work Style
Although telework has increased due to COVID-19 pandemic and changed the way we work, Japanese companies often emphasize working as a team and helping each other. The advantage of the Japanese team-playing style of work is that the members of the team are able to work on average to a certain extent. In Japan, there is also a culture of “companies training people,” where people start out with simple tasks and gradually improve their skills. In some cases, the scope of one’s work is not clear, and there are opportunities to take on a variety of tasks, however it could be considered that it is difficult to develop expertise.
In the U.K., on the other hand, people work as individual players, and the scope of their work is clearly defined in their contracts, and they do not work beyond that scope. Rather than nurturing people, companies are looking for people who can work immediately after being hired. The British also place a high value on rules and regulations at work. There is an image of foreigners sometimes as being not exactly on time, but they strictly adhere to business hours and deadlines, and tend to refuse requests from customers that are impossible.
3, Overtime work and Vacation
In Japanese companies, there is an atmosphere of reluctance to leave when your colleagues are working, that is why there is a lot of overtime work. There is an atmosphere of late night meetings, and in the case of salespeople, it is difficult to go home if you have not achieved your numbers. Japanese people are diligent and serious, so working overtime is often a sign that you are working hard. The percentage of people who take long vacations is also low, as many people feel that they might inconvenience their colleagues.
In the U.K., people are clear about the scope of their work, so they go home when their work is done, and overtime is rare. The work-life balance is important for them, and people take long vacations. We work 8 hours per day, 40 hours a week, and most employees go home 5 to 10 minutes after the work ending time. I was impressed by the way staff used their time and concentration during work. I would like to learn more for the Japanese people about how they secure time for their families. Many employees use the flexible work hours system, and women with small children leave the office at 4:00 p.m. as long as you are doing your job and producing results, no one will complain.
4, Views on Employment
In Japan, the concept of employment has changed in recent years, but in the past, there was the idea of working for one company until retirement. When changing jobs in Japan, a short period of service is often viewed negatively, and people want to find a stable, full-time job. It is more difficult for Japanese companies to fire people suddenly than overseas, and it is good for the workers that their employment is well protected. If you are not doing well in the post you are hired for, you can move to a different department.
In the UK, people change jobs to advance their careers, and changing jobs is seen as a very positive thing. Many people start their own businesses in order to work for their ideal company. In Japan, full-time employees are more stable than ever. Additionally, permanent employees are the most preferred form of employment because of their stability, but in the UK, contract workers tend to have more specialized skills and higher salaries and some of them work as contract workers for a few years and then take a long vacation in between assignments.
In Japan, there is an atmosphere of putting the customer first and doing whatever it takes to get the job done, but overseas, the way of thinking seems to be very different. The Japanese way of thinking is that the customer is king, and they try to accomplish the work they are asked to do, even if they have to work overtime to do it.
In the U.K., customers are not kings, but considered as partners, and there is a sense that you should clearly refuse to do something that is impossible. In addition, colleagues have their own jobs to do, and asking for help with your work is considered annoying because it interferes with other work.
Thank you for reading to the end. When changing jobs, it is important to know the corporate culture beforehand, so please consult with our consultants.