Have you ever worked with foreigners? Do you have any foreign colleagues in the same company with you? During your work, you will inevitably encounter cultural difference with them, on various issues like working style, differences in concepts of work, etc. In this article, I would like to introduce what kind of working life people in Hong Kong have to expats who have decided to stay in Hong Kong for their jobs.

It’s common to change your job, for the sake of higher salary!

Japanese will only change their jobs in their life once or twice, at most three times. They regard changing job as a big decision in life that transform their lives.

However, for people in Hong Kong, they do not regard changing job is an important decision of life. If you want to quit, just quit. There are too many things in life that you will miss if you don’t grab it. No matter you are a new employee or a more senior employee, you will often change jobs as soon as you find the job, that includes a more attractive salary than it is now. Salary is difficult to raise in Hong Kong unless you change your job. If you find that the position does not suit you or you have found another job with higher salary, HongKonger tends to change the job as soon as possible. It is common to quit in a few years after joining in Hong Kong. You can understand more about the cultural difference once you start working at the company.

A lot of people are doing a side job.

In Hong Kong, a lot of people have side jobs. This is because they usually have negligible sense of belonging to the company and they rather focus more on their personal lives. Take my company as an example, there is 70-80% of people selling products on the Internet. Some act on behalf of the homepage content creation by themselves, some work part-time at a restaurant or help their family members to operate a shop. There are many cases that they can earn money outside the company at work during weekend or even during working hours! If you reveal it further, you will definitely have a cultural shock: They call during work, arrange items for their online business and they check the number of purchases of the day…
After all, Hong Kong is heavily influenced by Individualism that in order to live with quality, you need to earn money in various ways. Historically, Hong Kong was the logistics center of Asia, and thus there is a tradition for people to work hard. It is difficult for expats to understand why they will get angry even though they receive the recognition in company. It might be led by the unsatisfaction brought by the side job.
Please do not hesitate when such situation really happens, simply support them by saying, “I hope the side job will work well!”. Your colleagues’ morale will surely go up.

They love Japanese souvenirs!

HongKongers are more friendly than expected. When you need to go on a business trip to Japan, they will be so looking forward to the souvenirs. Your female colleagues will get you a full list of Japanese cosmetics, health and beauty products, Japanese snacks, etc. For male colleagues, they will ask you for a mascot doll of Loose Japanese characters. As you are a co-worker of the same company, you will need to buy a souvenir for everyone, according to Hong Kong culture. It will surely build up your relationship with your colleagues.

It’s OK to speak Broken English!

When you have decided to stay overseas, it might be the language barrier that makes you feel uneasy. Many people are mistaken that “Hong Kong is a part of China so Mandarin is spoken”, but actually in Hong Kong, only Cantonese and English are the official languages. Being a British territory until 1997, most people can speak fluently in English. Many of them can even speak three languages like Cantonese, English and Mandarin.They will be patient to speak or listen in unfamiliar words.

In fact, HongKongers understand that Japanese are not good at English. It is rude to not to speak anything to your colleagues just because you do not have confidence to speak in English. If your English is broken, just strive your best to speak up. I’m sure they will try to understand.


These are the parts that I indeed was stressed about when I was leaving Japan and going to Hong Kong beforehand. People in Hong Kong are more gentle than you anticipate. If you understand and respect the diversity in every colleague, you will undoubtedly get along well with them. It is a great opportunity to stay in Hong Kong, so let’s grasp this chance to explore more and meet new good friends in the other part of the globe!

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