How Working in Hong Kong is Different to the UK

So I've been living in Hong Kong for two years now. Two whole years! I can't believe how time has flown and yet here I am, settled into life here in the fourth most densely populated sovereign state or territory in the world (thanks Wikipedia). 

While living here has had a whole host of lifestyle adjustments, the one thing I noticed as being particularly different, was the world of work - funny because working is the same all over the world, surely? Nope. In Hong Kong, there are still new things I find myself learning when it comes to working and office etiquette. 

Here's a little list of the major differences (for me at least) between working in London and Hong Kong...


It's almost rude not to pick up your phone if it rings during a meeting 

The office is not a place for banter - not really anyway. 

WhatsApp and We Chat are totally valid means of communication, email? What email? 

Eating out at lunch time is something that almost always happens.  

TAX TAX TAX TAX! Capped at a cool 17% no matter what you're earning. 

Which comes at the cost of Heath care FYI, just don't fall over or anything.

Don't EVEN get me started on dental (how American am I right now?)

Speaking of tax, it's not something which is automatically deducted, so this can be mega stressful and can come as a bit of a shock when you get your bill. 

Also on the tax note, you don't get charged for your first year of working! But then you end up paying for the next year, and the year after that in one go.. So.. Why? Don't ask. 

It's not that strange in Hong Kong to eat your breakfast in a meeting.

Typically, Monday mornings aren't for catching up with your colleagues about the crap you watched or epic hike you did. Mostly you'll just go straight to your desk in silence and get straight to it. 

In Hong Kong, desk naps are a thing 

Happy Friday is thrown around with the same sincerity as 'happy birthday'  - I'm not sure if this is a Hong Kong thing or not, but I do me love a Happy Friday.

Team tea rounds aren't really thing in Hong Kong and neither are biscuits. Sad. Very sad. 

Sometimes there are typhoons, and, if they're really bad, you don't have to go to work! But tree's fall down and it's actually kind of dangerous, so.. 

The size of the city means the average commute is under 30 mins. Mine is actually around 2 minutes. Yep. 

Handing someone a business card is a two handed affair, and if you're really good, you'll be able to exchange your card and the other persons' in a seamless, contactless transaction. 

Hand shaking isn't really a thing here, although it does happen, but it's half-hearted and a little flaccid and mostly fingers only - weird. 

Lunch time in Hong Kong starts at 12. TWELVE! 

Lunch sets can become the bane of ones existence here in Hong Kong. They are everywhere, around $100 (£10) and generally include enough food for 2 people. Oink oink.

You will be trusted, at times, beyond your known capabilities and this will push you to be so much better at your job than you ever thought you could be - and this, this is why people love working in Honkers. You have much more room to grow.


Are you working in Hong Kong or a foreign place? I'd love to know how you think it's different from other places you've worked!

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