Working in a French Environment: An Irish Perspective

image_1By Mark Connaire

I had to ask myself, what does a stereotypical French worker look like? Unsurprisingly, it is not someone wearing a beret or eating a baguette!

Working in a French educational environment was a great experience for me. My initial thought on being an intern was that my main tasks will be photocopying and making coffee! Thankfully this was not the case! I was employed as a Marketing in the International Office in Grenoble École de Management from October till May. My job entailed working in the International Office twice a week on different projects. I can honestly say I never once came across anyone being unfriendly or unpleasant in my 6 months working there.

So what is actually different about a French working environment?

1. Punctuality is Pertinent

In Ireland, the phrase ‘I’ll be there in 5 minutes’ is one that means that you will be at least 15minutes before you arrive! Meeting are sometimes set for 8:50 so that it can start at 9! The Irish are known for their bad timing skills. This is the complete opposite to the French.  Working in a French environment I have noticed that arriving on time is key and 9am does not mean 9:04! At times I have arrived panting to ensure that I arrive exactly on time.

2. Good manners mean a lot

I found my French colleagues to be very friendly.  I was always met with a ‘Salut, ça va?’ or a ‘Bonjour, tu as passé un bon weekend?’ You must abolish the stereotype that most French people are rude as this is not the case at all! The Irish are known to be a very friendly and welcoming nation yet it is here in France where I have worked with some of the most polite people. At times you can barely walk from one end of the office to another without being greeted with a smile (this is a good thing!)

3. Lunch is important

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In a country ranked one of the highest for its gastronomy, meal times are very important times of the day. French meals are rich with conversation and are certainly not rushed. I can only imagine the horror of the French people when they see families like The Simpsons devour their food in one gulp! I have noticed that in the working environment that lunch time is an important time. The idea of working and eating is not one that applies in France, something I agree with!

4. Good Morale makes for a better Working Environmentimage_3

In general I have found the people working in a French Environment to get on very well with each other. I think the better you get on with your colleagues the more you enjoy coming to work. Team morale seemed to be very high when I worked there and I think it is down to how well people get along with another.

Overall I had a very positive experience when working in France. As a business student I found it very interesting to work in a foreign working environment to my own. It really does give you a insight into how different cultures go about different things and how they compare to my own culture. I would absolutely recommend foreign students to work in France. While it may be a daunting thing at first, it will be a decision you will not regret. Bon travail les Français!

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