On Friday, we be will high above the Atlantic, flying on a one-way ticket back to the U.S. of A. After 3 years of working and living in London, it is time to move on.
So last week, as International Women's Day was coming to a close, what I like to call Dave Week was just getting started. For those of you who know Dave in real life, you know that he's not a guy who craves the spotlight. However, he has loooooooooved London, and London has loved him back. And dare I say it: "London Dave" may not mind the spotlight afterall. For over a week he's been having at least 2 celebrations a day with friends and colleagues, now that he must bid farewell to the city that he loves so dearly.
Because he's had such a fantastic experience in the UK, I did something that you easily forget to do when you're married to someone: I sat down, looked into his eyes, and had a conversation :)
The outcome was 5 Great Things about Working in London, according to London Dave:
1. Having a Notice Period. If you're a local UK employee, you're likely to have a 3 or 6 month "notice period" in your contract. This means: if you resign, you're still obligated to your company for this amount of time; also known as garden leave. If you're in a market-facing competitive position (think: sales, management, etc.), your company will probably "send you to the garden," meaning: a 3-6 month paid vacation(!) to keep you away from clients and sensitive info for awhile. If you're in an internal role, you'll work your notice period, like Dave did. He liked this because it meant (a) the company could find the right replacement in lieu of a just-fill-the-seat replacement. And (b) he was able to do a comprehensive on-boarding and hand-off, creating a successful outcome for everyone.
Because the entire UK job market works this way, it works. The British are baffled by Americans' 2 week notice standard.
2. The Multiculturalism in Our Teams. Off the cuff, he named people he worked with from the UK, US, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Australia. He argues that it's better to be exposed to more people who have different experiences from you. To him, it just makes sense, especially if you're a multi-national company; you must look and think like the variety of customers you serve. I raised him right :)
Both our work and personal experiences in London have made us want to continue living in immigration-friendly places in the future. Also, he fears that our Indian food consumption will never be the same...
3. Drink Anytime You Like. The stereotypes are true. In London, drink anytime and anywhere. Leadenhall Market fills up with old white insurance dudes everyday at lunchtime, who linger in the streets late into the evening. Dave argues that even though it's old school and can get excessive, it's nice for a night out and has allowed him to deeply bond with his workmates. And apparently, "It promotes free exchange of ideas; you know, after you're a few in." mmhmm.
4. Employers File Your UK Taxes. April 15th is approaching for us Americans. 'Nuff said.
5. The British Take Their Off-Hours Seriously. Work-Life Balance is fantastic. There's no expectation of out-of-hours emailing. Weekends are 100% yours. And best of all: you do not have to carefully ration out each precious vacation day, or "hoard your holiday," as Dave says. All of this leads to lower stress in general. He really relates to the European philosophy that you're working to have the resources to not be in work, so... don't be in work.
And with that, we will see you from the other side of the pond!
Note: there will be a future post with more story and soul about our time in London. Although (for me) it was time to leave, I know that our life will never be the same, following this experience, most importantly, with incredible friends and colleagues, who will forever be in the fabric of our lives. Thank you for loving us, supporting us, and giving us a home in London for the last 3 years.
PS - Here's what I and my expat friends found surprising about working in London.