Hong Kong: Your Guide to Work-Life Balance

Date of publishing: 24/08/2016 00:00


Since 1995, Hong Kong has held the highest degree of economic freedom, according to the Index of Economic Freedom. As a central harbor point and gateway to the rest of Asia, its economy is heavily dependent on international trade and finance. Hong Kong was recently ranked as having Asia’s highest amount of foreign direct investment, for both inflows and outflows, next to China and second only to the US globally.


Yet, despite their positive growth and industrious economic outlook, Hong Kong’s labor force consistently reports less than ideal levels of work-life balance. According to a survey conducted by global workplace provider Regus, at least 14% of Hong Kong professionals work an extra 15 hours overtime a week. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Asia New World of Work Survey shows that improving work-life balance remains the most important factor for job satisfaction in Asia Pacific. From retail therapy to food trips and taking breaks in nature, here’s how to achieve work-life balance in the bustling port city.


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Taking Care of Business


The first step to striking that ideal work-life balance would be to hone a level-headed mindset towards work. Hong Kong is known for its fast-paced corporate environment, with a rich history of multinational trade relations. Being 5th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey, no doubt the career and employment opportunities are plenty, but maintaining your sanity might take some added effort. You don’t need to strive for machine-like productivity in order to succeed, even if everyone else around you seems to. In fact, this kind of frenzied attitude is often what contributes most to stress and fatigue. Instead, learn to better manage your time, allow yourself ample breathing space, set attainable objectives and adjust your expectations accordingly, and don’t fall prey to the pressures of your job. Build healthy relationships with colleagues and cultivate a supportive work environment. Once you’ve established a stable, efficient work routine, business is sure to be followed by pleasure.

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Bargains By the Bay


With almost free port trade, record low corporate and income tax, and a high standard of living in Hong Kong, it’s no wonder shopping is one of the most popular pastimes. There are an overwhelming amount of large shopping complexes, luxury fashion boutiques, and high-end retailers along with the busy flea markets, sidewalk stalls, tightly packed multi-level shopping malls, and unconventional shopping districts to choose from. Though money can’t buy happiness, between Harbour City, Sheung Wan, and Mong Kok, you’ll find a treasure trove of deals that’ll likely come close.

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From Scenic Shores to Hillside Views


If you ever grow tired of the monotony of cubicles, the mad rush of commuters, and the fluorescent glow of store displays, you can always take the time to appreciate the vibrant nature that surrounds the steel, glass, and concrete landscape of the urban jungle. Besides being a shopping mecca and financial epicenter, Hong Kong is a sensational travel destination.


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You don’t have to take the typical tramway tours to see the time-tested attractions of Hong Kong. Even long time residents can still appreciate the view from Victoria Peak or a visit to the temples or monasteries, while the beaches of Lantau or Sharp Island are refreshing to even the weariest world travelers. On particularly beautiful days, the manicured green gardens of Kowloon Park or the serene waters of Inspiration Lake can be just as majestic as the natural wonders of the farther out volcanic rock regions of Sai Kung. Breathtaking nature trails, hikes, and treks are alternative options for a weekend getaway.


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Eat, Drink, and Be Maritime


After a day of task-taking, keyboard-pounding, number-crunching, and deadline-chasing, what better way to let off steam than with a piping hot bowl of noodles or a platter of dim sum and dumplings?


Immersing yourself in Hong Kong cuisine means going beyond the safety of Tim Ho Wan and taking an adventurous jaunt through the increasingly rare hawker side streets, exploring the various dai pai dongs or cha chan tengs (tea houses) and braving the unfamiliar menus and deliciously greasy offerings. Stumble through the dizzying crowds at Lan Kwai Fong’s night life hotspots or have a laugh at a SoHo comedy club. There’s always someone new to meet and an interesting conversation just waiting around every corner. With the city so densely populated, you won’t ever find yourself starved or thirsting for some excitement.


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At the Crossroads of Culture


Arts and culture are an integral part of the Hong Kong experience, from a stroll along the Avenue of Stars to a visit to the real life Chungking Mansions. There are museums and galleries, contemporary as well as traditional shows, performances, and exhibits to attend. There are regular shows by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Hong Kong Ballet, or the Hong Kong Dance Company, from independent theater groups to upscale events at the Hong Kong Fringe Club. As a major international destination, Hong Kong hosts concerts by megastars ranging from U2 to Madonna, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Radiohead. The annual Clockenflap festival was one of the pioneers of the festival trend in Asia, bringing together film, music, and arts in one venue. There are special events throughout the year such as dragon festivals and ghost parades, as well as nightly attractions like the Symphony of Lights.

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With all these cultural events and celebrations, it’s hard to imagine life in Hong Kong to be as strenuous as the surveys suggest, but keeping up with the pace of this energetic city can take its toll. For this restless capital, the real challenge is to find that inner harmony.


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