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Foreign Office Policies To Make You Jealous

Published on Thursday, 31 Dec 2015

As the old saying goes, “the grass is always greener on the other side”, especially,when it comes to office policies in Hong Kong. There are certain aspects that leave working professionals in Hong Kong longing for more. Numerous customs and demanding, even unreasonable, expectations rule the business world here, resulting in a high-paced and stressful environment. It isn’t uncommon for many Hong Kongers to look abroad for better workplace settings and opportunities for success. 

Although other countries have different work ethics and customs that may not mesh well with the way Hong Kong does business, taking a closer look at foreign office policies can offer C-level executives and upper management a new perspective on how business can potentially be conducted in successful ways.

Tech giants like Google and Facebook have significantly changed the way many American companies run their offices and treat their employees, paving the way for greater work-life balance for many American workers. This new emphasis on creating a “happy” work environment to cultivate more creativity, company loyalty, and overall collaboration includes perks like flexible working hours, casual Fridays, fully-stocked kitchens featuring gourmet cuisine, on-site massage therapy, company-sponsored happy hours, game rooms and other fun or relaxed common spaces, and subsidised childcare. These are all designed to encourage employees to better enjoy their time at work, thus leading to longer employee retention. 

Something’s obviously working because Facebook is consistently ranked one of the best places to work, both by its own employees (based on self-reports on employment satisfaction) and by industry studies.

While the working class in Hong Kong are no strangers to ten or twelve hour workdays, in countries like Greece, a majority of employees only work between the hours of 8am to 2pm each day. Greek employees forego a lunch break, but after a 6-hour work day, they still have a majority of the day to live their life outside of the office. 

Spain is famous the world over for their siestas, the three-hour afternoon shutdown of business so that employees can return home to spend time with  their families. Once siesta is over at around 4:30pm or 5:00pm, Spaniards return to work for another three to four hours. This flexible work schedule allows employees to have more personal time during the day and is believed to add to an employee’s overall job satisfaction.

Some Hong Kong managers have a reputation for supervising with a flat style of management: the kind where there isn’t much room for subordinates to offer input and can lead to frustration in the workplace and low job satisfaction. Instead of cultivating an environment for collaboration and teamwork, these types of managers instil fear and the sense of submissiveness in their employees. 

Around the world, a less authoritative and more open style of management has been proven to be more effective, especially when it comes to increasing employee satisfaction and the sense of accomplishment from actively contributing to their team and company’s success. 

Office policies can be highly contentious and there truly is no right or wrong way to run a business. There is a myriad of factors that need to be considered when looking at which types of policies will produce the best results for any given office. What may work for one country may not work for another, and even policies that work in one particular office may not work in another located just down the road. Office policies, no matter how enticing they are, should reflect the unique culture specific to a particular company and its people. By examining foreign office policies, Hong Kong managers may be able to adjust their current office environment in order to create a better working culture for their teams and their businesses.

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