3 "Normal" American Work Habits That Other Countries Find Totally Bizarre

Updated 02/01/18

As Americans, we know that we work differently than other countries. We're chained to our desks for crazy-long hours, and vacations are few and far between. A Gallup report from 2014 estimates that the average full-time worker in the United States works 47 hours a week, one of the highest figures in the world and significantly higher than the rates in Western Europe. Business Insider has identified some of our unhealthiest work habits—ones that other countries are shunning at all costs.


Forget a stroll in the sunshine or a workout at lunch—we're hunched over our desks with a sandwich come midday. A 2015 study found that only one in five of us takes a proper lunchbreak and millions of us skip eating lunch altogether. In Europe, many countries take at least an hour around midday and stay away from their screens.


We hardly ever take our vacation time—according to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee who receives paid vacation only actually takes 54% of it each year. Not only that, but we barely take any family leave after having a child. The U.S. doesn't guarantee paid leave to employees, leaving it up to individual employers—and resulting in many parents feeling guilty for taking too much time off. (In countries like Finland, people are offered a substantial amount of paid parental leave.)


Guilty of checking your inbox after hours? You're not alone. One of the worst American work practices, according to other countries, is our tendency to send and answer emails outside of work hours. Craig Storti, author of Communicating Across Cultures, says, "In Europe, they give 100% from 9 to 5. When they go home, that's it, they're finished. They resent being contacted late." That goes for weekends, too. "When they come in Monday and see you emailed them on Sunday, they're going to be annoyed by that," he says. "The perception is Americans, they don't stop working."

Check out the full story over at Business Insider.

Related Stories