Work in Hong Kong
In terms of the general Hong Kong work environment, Hong Kong is regarded as the gateway into the China market and has the advantages of business transparency and rule of law (see our opening an office in Hong Kong page). There is a strong anti-graft organization in the ICAC. Much China business is contracted in Hong Kong, whilst fulfilment is largely taken place within the PRC. This is evidenced with many multi-national and local companies having their head office here, with the manufacturing and back-office functions located over the border in places like Shenzhen (a city just over the border with 'Special Economic Zone' status).
The multi-nationals, particularly the investment banks continue to bring over a lot of foreign nationals, although those numbers are dwindling due to a number of factors including "the changing job market, poor air quality, expensive accommodation....the lack of international school places" and (I suspect) the erosion of 'ex-pat' employment terms. Out of a Hong Kong total population of around 7 million, about 26550 were estimated to be from the US, 18590 from Canada, 14590 from Australia and 11420 from the UK in 2006. These figures are only an estimate based on Immigration net arrivals and departures and they don't account for 'expats' with permanent residency. Also, some overseas Chinese require sponsorship, so they will be included in these figures. The February 2007 population census showed that the number of Caucasians has dropped over the last five years to about 36400. (source: SCMP 20th May 2007). In short, Hong Kong is less of an expat posting than it was and those who do work here will be expected to integrate into a more localized working environment than that present prior to the 1997 'Handover' (see our history page).
If you are conducting business within the People's Republic of China, it's worth looking at the advice offered by Dezan Shira & Associates in their China Briefing website and at our doing business in China page.
The working environment
Most Western executives who work in Hong Kong will notice several changes to their working environment. It's worth stating the obvious at this point - if you are here you probably have some special attributes; a particular business skill, the ability to generate revenue, or knowledge of a specialist commercial area. You are probably being well rewarded for that and your employer is going to expect to get a good return on their investment. You will find the working week is longer - 50 hours a week is not exceptional.
Although English is usually spoken, most local staff will communicate with each other in Cantonese and there will be some cultural sensitivities to be mindful of. Examples are the giving and receiving of business cards with both hands and paying for staff when entertaining socially. Unlike in the West, the bill is not divided and the boss always pays!
Not surprisingly, many new friendships will be generated through the workplace with suppliers and customers, which will blur the work/home divide and will also lead to closer business relationships. The Chinese attach particular importance to relationships in business and it very difficult to be successful if you try and remain professionally aloof. Expect to be socializing hard as well as working hard.
Jobs in Hong Kong