If you are being relocated to Hong Kong, then there are some factors to be aware of. Firstly, how can you ensure that your transition is as smooth as possible. What are some of the challenges you may have to face? How can you overcome them as easily as possible?
Learn some Cantonese
Whilst learning another language may sound like a nice hobby, it may be essential in Hong Kong. Most people in multi-national firms will speak excellent English, but knowing some phrases in Cantonese will certainly set you apart from others. You may find that you have to deal with non-English speakers so knowing how to manage the language will prove invaluable.
Balance your life
Many people in Hong Kong work extremely long hours, and will even come into the office on weekends. Be prepared to work an extremely demanding schedule, but make sure that you have some downtime. Joining a club or a gym will be a well-deserved respite from the demands of the office.
Take time out to eat
Try not to eat lunch at your desk. In Hong Kong, eating out with your colleagues (or alone) is extremely important. Lunch is also the perfect opportunity to network and get to know your colleagues better. If you are a manager taking your team to lunch occasionally is paramount to building a bond and will be greatly appreciated.
Be more hands-on
If you take a managerial position, then be prepared to be more hands-on with your staff. This may mean being more prescriptive than you are used to back home. It may seem unfamiliar at first and you may feel that you are telling your staff what to do, rather than supervising their work autonomously but it is part of the work culture here.
Be realistic about renting
You may find that your living space has suddenly reduced significantly in size. So bear in mind that whilst there are plenty of shops to tempt you, you might not have the space to redecorate. You may also find that your upfront costs are quite hefty. Renting in Hong Kong is exorbitant, and you may have to pay a lot upfront. This could be up to 50% of your annual rent, plus deposits and agency fees.
If you accept a position in the banking sector, you will have to take the necessary Securities and Futures Commission exams. This is an added stress, on top of relocating so be prepared to have to study and sit exams at some point in the future.
Networking with confidence
Networking is a huge part of expat life in Hong Kong and it cannot be done half-heartedly. The important part to remember is that you have to sell yourself with as much confidence as you can muster. This might sound like hard work or even a little cheesy, but you have to put aside your misgivings and promote yourself for all your worth. If you lag behind, you’ll find that you won’t have the respect that you deserve or need.
Check your aggression
Whilst this might go against the previous point, Hong Kong strikes a fine balance between perseverance and aggression. The culture is different so your friendly directness in the West may win points but in Hong Kong, it doesn’t come off quite so well. Try to tone it down and ask a trusted colleague to monitor how you come across.
Invest in your dress
Brands are extremely important in Hong Kong and whilst it might seem superficial, your image is what will earn you respect. Depending on your budget, try to keep a few strategical designer items, such as a pen, notebook or even a keychain.