Sunday, November 25, 2012

Working in China

Not sure what to expect on your first day in a Chinese firm? Read on…

This post is all about working in China! Hope it gives you some insight and useful advice! And of course, this is just written from my experience so follow at your own peril ;)

So this is the first time I’ve worked in China! Hehe I was really excited and not actually that nervous until the morning of my first day…But nothing to be worried about really~ everyone was really friendly and helpful, I soon felt right at home ^^ 

Everything was pretty normal then suddenly…music started playing around 11am. It was time for the morning exercise! No we didn’t run around fields or anything, but did some stretches and star jumps at our desks. Exercise in the morning is quite common practice in Chinese companies, so don’t be alarmed! Maybe on your first day it's a good idea to wear flat shoes, in case your company is one of them :P

So I’m pretty sure that after you’ve arrived the boss will take you out for a nice dinner with all your colleagues. Now table manners are a whole new topic! If you’re a guy, be warned, they will expect you to drink, most probably in the form of Bai Jiu 白酒 (pretty strong). If you’re a girl, you’re not expected to drink much but drinking a little as a sign of respect is appreciated (can use tea as well). Also beer or Pi Jiu 啤酒 is often drunk in place of Bai Jiu.

Much like anywhere else, you should offer to fill your neighbour’s cup first before you pour your own. But don’t drink yet>> boss might have a few words to say first. And remember, during the night you should at least offer once to refill the boss’s glass! You should only fill the glass to about 70% when drinking tea, otherwise it’s seen as rude if you pour it too full. There’s a Chinese saying~ 茶倒7分满, 人情留3分

Boss will make some kind of speech and may directly address you to cheers with him. Now when you cheers with him/her take careful note! You should always aim to cheers your glass lower than your boss’s as a form of respect *see diagram* This often results in a game of who can lower their glass the lowest. (May take some time before you can actually drink haha) You should also do this with the other colleagues cause after all, you’re the newbie in the gang and should show respect (yo).

Usually the first cheers is a total “bottoms up.” If in doubt, watch what you’re drinking partner does (that is unless he/she is also watching you… :P *awkward eye contact*) It’s a good idea to imitate your boss’s actions, for example if he stands to offer you a toast, you should do the same.

During the meal you should call out your boss at least once to Ganbei, especially if he/she has already directly addressed you to cheers. You’ll prob see everyone make their way to the boss, so be patient!

KTV might be in order after the meal! Have a song or two prepared just in case :P

Of course a lot of the observations above is probably stuff you’re familiar with anyway, not necessarily unique to a Chinese company!

(original photo before editing from


  1. Too true! Should add a note about seating arrangements and for our family sake - bill fighting. haha :D

    1. Yup you're right, that's the main bit I missed out haha!