Networking Abroad: Office Time In Singapore

Working In Singapore

When I was provided with the new opportunity to take my career in a unique direction of remote working for an Asia business; one of the main principles I had to agree to was regular visits to the main office in Singapore.  Naturally as a 26 year old with an ambition to see the world and a passion for lifestyle design instantly agreed to this. Of course the main draw of taking the role was the home working, flexible working hours and freedom to tailor my working life around the things I enjoy but the opportunity and availability to travel to Asia was another key reason why this job was too much to turn down.

After 3 weeks of home working, skyping the team and delving into my role I was sat in Heathrow airport waiting to board a plane to the thriving business hub of South East Asia; Singapore. I was naturally apprehensive at this new approach to working and my involvement with a business outside of the UK or the EU for that matter. Thankfully as a forward thinking, generation y focused organisation I was pleased to have a companion with me to calm my nerves; my girlfriend Beth.

 As a teacher she was available to accompany me on the trip and I was more than delighted with her presence. Let’s be real, these type of opportunities shouldn’t be spent alone. The refreshing aspect about this all was the company allowing me to craft my visit around her school holidays, our birthday celebrations and family anniversaries. Again, rock star organisation.

 

Lastly was the accommodation. The MD of the group was in the UK for the first week of our visit so guess what? He gave us his 31st floor city pad. Secondly the hotel for the following week was the hotel used for company Directors. Naturally I was humbled by this, as was Beth.

Experience:

This experience presented to me is unrivalled and fundamentally I have a unique opportunity that not many have. Sure I’m office based for the trip five days a week, sure I am back on a 9-5 schedule but this is two weeks of establishing relationships with colleagues, learning about the business, the culture of the people I work with and exploring the fine city of which my organisation is based in.

These two weeks are the grounding for my time with the business. These two weeks will enable me to establish relationships with peers and enhance my ability further. But isn’t this really what’s needed? Quarterly travel and intense working for a short period of time as opposed to week in week out within the office environment? Shouldn’t more organisations take this stance?

As a worker I am forever grateful to my organisation. They understand my needs, my passions and my desires and have made my working life as enjoyable as possible. Is this not the answer to the questions continuously asked by HR departments across the globe in what’s required by young people?

What businesses should learn from this:

Generation Y workers are inspired by opportunity, development and the ability/platform to enjoy their work. There is nothing better than giving your workers freedom to express themselves, an opening to indulge in their passion (travel) and a balance which keeps them engaged and enthused by their work.

Businesses should take note and have a similar stance. If they didn’t already know this by now then they should look to engage their workers and retain individuals by appeasing their requirements. Take note of the following HR guru:

Location is not important in digital industries

– My Skype has been quiet this past week but before that It was in constant use. Day after day I would Skype my manager as a communication method. After two weeks of office working I’ll be happily ready to return to Skype. Why? My working hours are tailored around my productivity. When I am on song I am working. Due to the time difference with my location and the head office location I have my afternoon to focus on delivering my work as the business is out of hours. Morning with the business and afternoon working on my objectives. No distractions, no urgent requests merely peace to plough through my work.

Been office based should NOT be a requirement for digital savvy workers. Furthermore location should not be important. Employ the right workers, give them the freedom and watch the results.

Incentivise workers through opportunities

– One of the main attractions to this role was the ability to travel to a continent I had never visited. Incentives based on opportunities for workers should be prioritised. In my last role I was PROMISED travel when taking the role. The furthest I travelled was London. I can get to London by train in 2 ½ hours.

Incentives do not need to be salary based. Of course we all love the extra bump in wages but equally having an opportunity to travel is as rewarding as an extra £50 on your pay check. The opportunity to travel to the head office, meet colleagues, learn about them and their culture meant so much to me as a remote worker. Furthermore by providing such an opportunity I was able to turn the trip into a summer holiday with my girlfriend Beth, a holiday which wouldn’t have been financially viable without the support of my organisation.

These types of opportunities and experiences retain staff. I feel wanted, I feel valued and I feel enthused to be part of such an establishment.

Reaction to Durian

My reaction to Durian

 

Treat all employees on a level playing field

– Businesses become more successful if employee respect peers and senior management. One way businesses can gain respect and trust from their staff is through treating everyone on a level playing field. One of the most humbling experiences from my trip was my accommodation and how I was treat to the same accommodation as directors of the company. By granting this I felt involved with the organisation and part of the business from the beginning. This to me was something which separated the business from other organisations I had worked in previously.

But In retrospect shouldn’t this be how all businesses operate? Shouldn’t all employees be treat the same? Is there a divine right that senior members of a company should be looked after any different? We are all cut from similar cloth after all. By treating executives the same as directors you are automatically doing what most organisations do not do. Now I am not saying we should all therefore travel business class but by narrowing the divide between levels of staff you are automatically creating respect for their role within the company. Most businesses don’t operate this way but they should as staff members will feel inspired by this.

Find the right manager who gives a shit about your career/life

– Let me start by saying that my manager will most probably read this post so instant brownie points already right? Ha not really.

In essence this is the most important point of the post; finding the right fit for you as your career/life aspirations. In the same way children can be typecast in schools as no hopers from the beginning the same can be said about an uninspiring manager; a manager who oppresses your development or a manager who only thinks of you as a cog in the corporate machine.

The goals of Generation Y working are to intertwine your working and life into one bundle of fun. Your manager is the driver of this. Without a manager who gives a shit about my career I’d still be stuck in an office environment which restricted my development. I would be unhappy, counting down the working hours and merely spurred on by checking my online banking on pay day. If I didn’t find a manager who wants to see me develop then i’d be still in that position. Part of finding the right manager is luck as you literally don’t know what someone is like until the heat is on. You’ll find out most about your manager in the bad times. I like my manager to be a wall flower not a shrinking violet in those situations.

My advice to you? Shop around while you are young. Don’t sit on a job just to make your CV look ok if you hate the role. The longer you wait the more chance you will miss that opportunity you crave. Someone will come along and take it from you. The longer you spend not learning the less employable you become and the less interesting you are. If you are not enjoying your work and there is an opportunity to get out then grasp it with two hands and do not let go.

Finally my message to businesses is simple; Hire leaders. These don’t need to be Martin Luther King inspiring leaders but those who ‘get’ the generation you are trying to relate to. Hire the right individual for the job irrespective of experience level, race and gender. Hire the person you think will get the best out of the team and will achieve the most for the organisation. Put sentiments and experience aside. Both are overrated.

 

What I have gained from visiting the office:

Even though my heart ultimately lies with remote working the opportunity to visit your head office should not be passed up. It’s indispensible experience and knowledge which only office based time can achieve. My heart well and truly lies with remote working. I love it and will always prefer this to office working but time in the office is healthy for all remote workers.

Do I now believe office attendance is a requirement? No. I will never believe or agree with that. But I do believe periodically time in the office helps all involved to work smart and work sharper. Here are some key takeaways from my 9 days in the office:

  • Remote workers need an introduction period in the office.
  • I am a valued member of the team
  • Only within the office can you learn the core values of the organisation.
  • Understanding the personality of office based colleagues can only be gained from this environment.
  • Location is not important long term for success in business.
  • I 100% made the right decision taking this role.
  • Excitement for my future with the organisation.

Other quirky stuff I learnt:

Of course my trip didn’t just consist of cubicle isolation. Quite the opposite really. I was fortunate to have 6 days of exploring time where I could really observe this fantastic part of the world. Here are a few quirky notes I made during my time in Singapore:

  • Durian is the worst tasting food in the entire universe.
  • Singapore Is quite corporate in dress code
  • Taxi drivers are interesting
  • I can eat like a king in a hawker food court for £2.50
  • It can cost £20 for a pizza.
  • Singapore is an absolute HUB for SE Asia travelling.
  • I can hop on a ferry and be sat on a white sandy beach in 50 minutes.
  • People like to play games on their phones while trying to walk.
  • Nobody understands my Yorkshire accent.
  • I was the tallest/biggest man in the whole of Singapore and I am just touching 5ft 10. (Exaggeration but you get the jist)
  • After finishing work you can be sat by the pool or in the Jacuzzi in 15 minutes.
  • Beancurd Soya Milk & Almond dessert is AMAZING.
  • The red light district is like a male cattle market.
  • The lady at reception where my boss lives tends to call him ‘Sir Ben’.
  • The lifestyle the majority lead is truly breathtaking.
  • I MUST RETURN

Finally to leave you with some fun here are a few pictures of our trip. Enjoy 🙂

Durian

My favourite fruit 😐

Sampling Durian

Here comes the sampling!

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.

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