As my time abroad has come to an end, I cannot help but be a bit sad about leaving behind these places that I had the tremendous opportunity to visit and experience the culture, food, and lifestyle. One of the most striking contrasts that I found from the trip was the work life balance between Shenzhen and Ho Chi Minh City. Work life balance is extremely important to me, so I found it very interesting hearing about what is common for people in these two cities.
In Shenzhen, China, our first stop was meeting with an HR Consulting group called Hays – it was here that we first learned about the concept of 9/9/6. In other words, people work from 9am – 9pm, 6 days a week, for a total of 72 hours in a week. The culture in Shenzhen’s business sector is very tech focused which leads to many businesses working virtually around the clock to complete their work, design a new program, or find time to meet with their clients around the globe.
Now taking a look at the next city we visited, Ho Chi Minh City, we learned that the average work week was 40 hours for office workers and 48 hours for factory workers. Many of the companies we talked to emphasized the importance of work life balance and as such allowed and encouraged employees to work four – 12 hour days with 3 days off. While to workers in Ho Chi Minh are just as dedicated to their work, the manufacturing business specifically focuses on these types of benefits in order to stay competitive.
As both cities continue to experience growth, I wonder how these work schedules may change. In Shenzhen, the technology focus and culture of hierarchical leadership, I think leads to long working hours. We heard from a number of industries that the longer you work, the more successful you and the company can be. As Ho Chi Minh City continues to experience rapid growth, more investment and more businesses moving operations to the city – I do wonder if working hours will need to increase to keep up with the demand. I am curious to see over the next 15 years how the working hours in Ho Chi Minh City will change.
As I board my plane heading home, I cannot believe the time abroad has come to a close so quickly. I look forward to my next opportunity to visit China and Vietnam!