Once at the office, however, we are greeted by an oasis of calm. The CAUPD office was designed by a Hong Kong-based architecture firm and is definitely the nicest place I have ever worked. It occupies the top three floors of the building with a massive lobby and rooftop garden. Each floor houses two of the six studios that comprise the branch and feature bright open cubicle areas and common work/gathering spaces. Caroline and I work only steps away from each other on the 27th floor (studios 4 and 3, respectively). The atmosphere is super creative and the place is littered with maps, diagrams, and scale models of cities that probably haven’t even been built yet.
Liang Hao (Jerry), the director of studio 3 and my boss, is really awesome dude and he has gone to great lengths to make sure we are up to speed with what is going on at the branch. The other day he gave us a great presentation about Shenzhen, and he has really helped us get our bearings in this crazy new work environment.
Probably the best thing about working in a Chinese office is how regimented your day is. Lunch is from 11:30AM to 12:30PM followed by tea hour and then nap time when all the lights in the office are turned off. Then at 4PM we have patriotic calisthenics time which involves a gymnastics instructor barking exercise commands over the office loudspeaker while a military march plays in the background. Finally, we end the work day with afternoon fruit time which features colorful toothpicks and a different kind of fruit each day.
Disclaimer: I should probably mention that, even though the way I’ve described the Chinese work day seems to leave very little time for actual work, people often stay long past the official quitting time of 6pm and pull really long hours. Chinese planners work REALLY hard.