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Work Culture and Office Environment in the USA

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People in the US have a wide variety of jobs and work culture and office environment may vary across different industries and different parts of the country. Even different companies in the same industry and in the same area may have different cultures. This guide is primarily targeted towards professional jobs in high tech industries. Some people work as employees in the employer’s office, while others work as contractors/consultants at the client’s office.


Address your boss, supervisor, manager, director, or even the president of the company with his/her first name. Do not call them “boss” or “sir”. (You address strangers as “sir”, like customer service representatives do with their customers, or to people like police officers.) Regardless of how you address a person, you must respect the work relationship you have with your superiors.


Meetings are common at most businesses. These meetings may not necessarily be for making big decisions. Meetings are held for taking about small decisions and planning. Input from every relevant person is taken into account and valued before an appropriate decision is made. You may find yourself in a multitude of long meetings, which may bore you. You might even think that most of your time is spent in meetings rather than doing your actual work. These meetings, however, are an important part of your job. You should be a good listener in meetings and should not interrupt the speaker. You will be given your chance to speak. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. If you answer is “yes”, clearly say “yes”. If your answer is “no”, clearly say “no”. Nodding your head from one side to the other and/or up and down is very confusing.

Work Hours

Most people come to work early and leave on time. If you are in the IT field, in many places, it may not matter when you come and when you leave. However, you are expected to be present when you are needed for meetings or other teamwork. As a full-time employee, you are required to work at least 40 hours per week. If you are a salaried employee working on an in-house project, you will most likely not to be paid for working more than 40 hours. If you are working at a client state, your employer will definitely bill the client for all the hours you worked, but may or may not pay you extra hours you put in. For those working at a client’s site, you will have to fill out a weekly time sheet, signed by your supervisor, that specifies the number of hours you worked every day to send to your employer. Your employer will use that time sheet to bill the client. Some companies may allow you to make up time on the weekend if you take time off during the week. You are generally not expected to work during the weekends. Depending upon the company and the project schedule, you may have to work long hours and weekends, and sometimes you may not even be paid for extra hours. Most high tech jobs are task oriented. Therefore, you are measured by variables that include whether you got your job done in time, how well you did, etc., not based on how many hours you worked.


Remember that your time during work hours is owned by the company. Therefore, make complete use of that time to do the work you are getting paid for. Never use the company phone, fax, or internet for personal work. Keep your cell phone off or in vibration mode. If you need to speak about personal matters while at work, keep the discussion short and speak quietly. Don’t spend too much time surfing the internet formatters not relevant to work. Many companies have software that track your activity page by page and even track each keystroke you type. Make sure to read your company’s employee manual (handbook) carefully to understand company policies. Personal friendships may develop between colleagues. However, personal relationships between people of different levels are not common. Unless it is mutually agreed upon, people generally don’t reveal their home address or home phone number. You should not call your boss on the weekend unless it is urgent. Observe how people greet another at various levels: yours, higher, and lower levels, and greet people accordingly.


Different companies may have different levels of amenities in the one office. All companies provide basic necessities, such as water most companies have a coffee machine, vending machine for soda (Coke, Pepsi, etc.), a refrigerator to store your lunch, and a microwave to heat your lunch. You can bring your own food, go out , or even go home for lunch if your office is near your home.

Dress Codes

Fashion in the United States is eclectic and predominantly informal. While Americans' diverse cultural roots are reflected in their clothing, particularly those of recent immigrants, cowboy hats and boots and leather motorcycle jackets are emblematic of specifically American styles.

Blue jeans were popularized as work clothes in the 1850s by merchant Levi Strauss, a German-Jewish immigrant in San Francisco, and adopted by many American teenagers a century later. They are worn in every state by people of all ages and social classes. Along with mass-marketed informal wear in general, blue jeans are arguably one of US culture's primary contributions to global fashion.[41]

Though informal dress is more common, certain professionals, such as bankers and lawyers, traditionally dress formally for work, and some occasions, such as weddings, funerals, dances, and some parties, typically call for formal wear.

Dress codes may vary widely. Make sure to ask in advance about the dress code. You may wear clothes that lean more towards formal dress, but not too formal, or any level below that which is required by the company. Some places institute a casual dress code on Fridays as compared to other days.

Corporate Social Life

Many companies have social events like Christmas parties, New Year’s parties, company picnics, 3-4 days of meetings in a vacation spot like Florida or Las Vegas, ice cream socials, boss’s birthdays, or someone’s departure. For some events, like birthdays or farewell parties, everyone contributes to buy gifts for the particular person. It is recommended that you participate in such events. It will help you get to know more people socially.


If you are not sure about something at your work, don’t bluff. Admit it honestly and refer to the right person. Focus on key areas of expertise and develop your skills accordingly. Don’t pretend to know everything. Sooner or later, people will figure it out, and that may negatively impact your performance. If your colleague needs help, please help him\her to the best of your knowledge and ability. On the other hand, if you need help from your colleague, don’t shy or afraid to ask for help.


1. How to address to your boss

2. Work hours.

3. Dress code. Corporate social life.


1. Ощепкова В.В. Шустикова И. И. О США кратко.- М., 2000

2. Песков В. Земля за океаном. М., 1975

3. Карев Н. Америка после юбилея. М., 1978



Theme 12 American literature:

1. Realism, Twain and James.

2. Literature of the beginning of the 20th century.

3. The rise of American drama.


American literature is the literature written or produced in the area of the United States and its preceding colonies. For more specific discussions of poetry and theater, see Poetry of the United States and Theater in the United States. During its early history, America was a series of British colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States. Therefore, its literary tradition begins as linked to the broader tradition of English literature. However, unique American characteristics and the breadth of its production usually now cause it to be considered a separate path and tradition.

The New England colonies were the center of early American literature. The revolutionary period contained political writings by Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. In the post-war period, Thomas Jefferson's United States Declaration of Independence solidified his status as a key American writer. It was in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that the nation’s first novels were published. With the War of 1812 and an increasing desire to produce uniquely American literature and culture, a number of key new literary figures emerged, perhaps most prominentlyWashington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1836, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) started a movement known asTranscendentalism. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) wrote Walden, which urges resistance to the dictates of organized society. The political conflict surrounding abolitionism inspired the writings of William Lloyd Garrison andHarriet Beecher Stowe in her world-famous Uncle Tom's Cabin. These efforts were supported by the continuation of the slave narrative autobiography, of which the best known example from this period was Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) is notable for his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, a novel about adultery. Hawthorne influenced Herman Melville (1819–1891) who is notable for the books Moby-Dick and Billy Budd. America's two greatest 19th-century poets were Walt Whitman (1819–1892) and Emily Dickinson (1830–1886). American poetry reached its peak in the early-to-mid-20th century, with such noted writers as Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, and E. E. Cummings. Mark Twain (the pen name used by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835–1910) was the first major American writer to be born away from the East Coast. Henry James (1843–1916) was notable for novels like The Turn of the Screw. At the beginning of the 20th century, American novelists included Edith Wharton (1862–1937), Stephen Crane (1871–1900), and Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945). Experimentation in style and form is seen in the works of Gertrude Stein (1874–1946).

American writers expressed disillusionment following WW I. The stories and novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) capture the mood of the 1920s, and John Dos Passos wrote about the war. Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) became notable for The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms; in 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. William Faulkner (1897–1962) is notable for novels like The Sound and the Fury. American drama attained international status only in the 1920s and 1930s, with the works of Eugene O'Neill, who won four Pulitzer Prizes and the Nobel Prize. In the middle of the 20th century, American drama was dominated by the work of playwrights Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, as well as by the maturation of the American musical.

Depression era writers included John Steinbeck (1902–1968), notable for his novel The Grapes of Wrath. Henry Miller assumed a unique place in American Literature in the 1930s when his semi-autobiographical novels were banned from the US. From the end of World War II up until, roughly, the late 1960s and early 1970s saw the publication of some of the most popular works in American history such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. America's involvement in World War II influenced the creation of works such as Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead (1948), Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961) and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'sSlaughterhouse-Five (1969). John Updike was notable for his novel Rabbit, Run (1960). Philip Roth explores Jewish identity in American society. From the early 1970s to the present day the most important literary movement has been postmodernism and the flowering of literature by ethnic minority writers.



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