The Casual Workplace

Only until I finally arrived at my workspace on the first day of my internship, did it start to hit me that I would be working in Beijing for the next two months. The door to the office was all decorated in red celebratory banners and once I walked in, I found the office to be very homey. The owner, my supervisor, is an expat from America and runs his company out of a three-bedroom apartment. The living room is where all our desks are and the bedrooms are used to store wine, glassware, packaging, and other office supplies. Since my internship is an O2O company, works out of an apartment, and currently has only one other employee, the culture seems very relaxed, but still focused. I would describe my supervisor as a typical American businessman. He is very straight to the point and would probably make a deal with someone who shares little to no guanxi with him if the deal were right. (In China, it is imperative to have good relations with anyone who you want to make a deal with.) My Chinese co-worker, Emily, is very nice and we have good conversations about our different cultures. However, when my supervisor is at the office she never speaks, unless it is business.

When I first arrived, my supervisor talked about the different projects he had in mind for me to work on over the next 2 months. On my first day, I researched expat magazines, finding contact information and analyzing the types of content they produce. I was also treated to lunch. For my second day, I got to meet with one of the wine experts in the CBD area and then work a few more hours at my apartment. On my third day, I was back at the office and started to contact magazines, as well as, produce marketing material for the company’s new app that is anticipated to launch soon.

The environment did match my expectations only because during my interview, my supervisor told me that his start up business is run out of an apartment. I was not expecting a large office with many employees.

What I have noticed about the culture of the workplace is that everyone knows what work they should do. My supervisor does most of the decision making because I am just an intern and Emily does not have a college education. I think it is more similar to American workspace than a Chinese one, considering the fact my company is a small, online business. After all, the owner, my supervisor is from America. However, here it is very casual, maybe more casual than in America. I could never imagine wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops to a job.



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