Sunday, 30 June 2013

Back to work

I have successfully survived my first full week back in full time employment and I am loving the structure, routine and purpose that has been injected back into my life.  Although I have spent almost all of my working life employed in agencies - starting in advertising, moving to media planning and buying, then to full service, ending up in healthcare PR - I have never worked for a global public relations agency before.  However, it has proven to be a very familiar environment and in many ways it is very similar to working in London for JWT and MindShare.

For example there are around 60 people working in our office - so it is considerably larger than the past three agencies I have worked within.  This means that there are more people in the team to support you and to delegate to, which is radically different to working in a small agency where you simply have to get stuck in and do everything yourself including a lot of time consuming but essential admin.  Being part of a global network you also have access to colleagues on the ground in other markets so you have direct contacts for insight and support.   And many of the clients I will be working with are multi nationals with established PR and marketing practices and sensible budgets which allows you to develop more innovative ideas.  In the week that I have been back at work, the agency has already scooped two PR awards and it is exciting to be back into this type of environment.  As with working in London agencies, the hours are a lot longer than I have been working recently and working remotely does not appear to be encouraged.  Also it appears to be a bit of a 'sink or swim' culture - you are expected to use your initiative, put in the hours and just get on with the job.  There is no nurturing and hand-holding - which suits my nature and I'm used to that way of working from my London days.

The noticeable differences are:

  1. I am the odd one out!  In our open plan office I stand out as the only one with blonde hair and blue eyes.
  2. Although our contracts say that our hours are 9.00am to 5.30pm the Hong Kong Chinese tend to arrive at around 9.30am and work late into the evening.  Being someone who works more effectively in the morning, I tend to get in early and the office is a ghost town until everyone starts trickling in at 9.30am.
  3. The Hong Kong locals are passionate about food and everyone will take their full hour at lunchtime - often heading to a diner serving cantonese food - which is typically some form of meat with rice or noodles.  Over the past 19 years of my working life I have rarely taken my full lunch break.
  4. The first language of everyone sitting in the same area as me is Cantonese and I hadn't fully appreciated how strange it would be to understand absolutely nothing that my colleagues are saying to each other.  Having worked in open plan offices for most of my career I have become adept at zoning out background noise and focusing but I do subconsciously pick up what is being said around me and often chip in with comments.  However I can't do that at all now!  

At the moment I am getting out of bed and feeling excited about going to work.  I have my structure back, I feel visible again, I am surrounded by people all day, I am being stretched mentally and I even have an element of stress back so I don't need to create stress any more!

Working Girl in my Little Posh Dress

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