What it's Like to Work in China

The normal work week in China is Monday through Friday. Workers in China are prohibited by law from putting in more than 40 hours a week (eight hours per day). Overtime is something that most people will have to perform at some point in their careers, and unfortunately, many local businesses do not adequately reward their employees for it.

In the nation, holiday pay is frequently tied to an employee's length of service. Depending on the total number of years employed, employees are eligible for either 5 days of paid vacation time off or 10 days of paid holiday time off (not just for their current employer). In addition, eleven official holidays are observed each year with full pay.

Take a look at the company's holiday policy before accepting a job in China.

For most of us, "work" consists mostly of a constant battle to keep up with our WeChat notifications. My work-related WeChat inbox often contains hundreds of messages every day, and that doesn't even include the major WeChat groups. WeChat is used for sending business ideas, legal papers, and due diligence files. Tens of thousands of unread messages on WeChat are not uncommon for professionals. Think of it as your inbox for email, except that each sentence is treated as its own message and the total number of unread messages grows exponentially. People are regularly stopped and distracted during meetings due to WeChat messages, many of which demand a quick response. Teenagers in the United States may have short attention spans, but adults in China's tech circle are much worse. To practice good "WeChat hygiene," one must be very self-disciplined and do things like label all unread messages as such, schedule reminders for messages that demand a later response, sort contacts into relevant groups, etc. Before going to sleep one night, I finally reached "Inbox zero" on WeChat, experiencing the same sense of accomplishment I had had when I finally reached that goal in the United States. Naturally, when I awoke the next morning, I had 30 unread messages, and the fight had to begin again. .

The everyday workload in China is far more demanding in terms of information, people, and transactions. Continuous meetings from dawn 'til midnight are rather frequent. There is never enough time for lunch or supper, so we typically dine together when we do meet. I get the feeling that in the United States, supper is sacred "family time," and business meetings are rare. Certainly not in China. Dinner gatherings, and often even after-dinner drinks, are commonplace here. As a common practice, coworkers typically meet for a relaxed meal before heading back to the office. Surge pricing is used by ride-hailing applications like Didi around 10 p.m., when most people in Beijing's tech and financial hubs are departing for the day.

The Chinese population is constantly glued to their mobile devices. Don't take it personally if your dining companion checks her phone every 15 minutes. Midway through the lunch, the conversation at almost every Chinese family gathering I've attended dies down and everyone begins responding to WeChat messages on their phones. When I first saw this lack of focus, I thought it was very impolite, as do many individuals raised in the West. After some time, though, you may see that it has become so commonplace that even courteous individuals engage in it. Because WeChat is an instant messenger, many users feel pressured to respond immediately, even if they have more pressing items to attend to. However, when I am eating with other people, I do my best to avoid using my phone so that I can focus on them and make the most of our time together.

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