China's White-Collar Workers Hate Their Offices, Waste Too Much Time in Meetings

China's White-Collar Workers Hate Their Offices, Waste Too Much Time in Meetings
Aug 11, 2015 Translated by

Editor's Note: The Chinese media loves to survey white-collar workers. In the latest survey, published in The Paper, the results show that white-collar workers really hate their noisy offices, waste a lot of time in meetings, especially in the public sector, and work a lot of overtime. White-collar workers complain their co-workers are too noisy all day or noises outside the office bother them. As for hours of actual work, workers in tech companies have the most overtime, and public sector employees have the most meetings. For expats that work white-collar jobs in China, can you relate to the woes of the Chinese white-collar worker, or do you have a completely different set of complaints?

A well-known recruitment website for white-collar workers recently launched a survey on workers' quality of life. 13,400 white collar workers answered the survey. Stuffy offices, too many meetings, and too much overtime are among the top complaints of China's white-collar workers. Almost half surveyed said their offices were not well ventilated, and more than half complained about overtime hours. A third of white-collar workers more more than five hour of overtime a week, and executives average 12.5 weekly overtime hours.

Dreams of a Quiet Office with Clean Air

White collar workers rated their satisfaction, on average, as 2.59 out of 5. Only 20.1% of workers are “very satisfied,” or “satisfied,” with their work environment. 26.8% said that they were “somewhat satisfied.”

Only 26.2% of white-collar workers said that their office had fresh air and air conditioning. Nearly half of respondents said that their offices were not well ventilated, and 22.8% said that their offices were either too hot or too cold. 2% of workers said that their office smelled bad. Modern office buildings generally use central air conditioning, which can cause poor air condition.

Less than half of workers are happy with the noise levels in their office. White collar workers say that the noise in their office is general man-made. 8.6% of workers said that their office is generally quiet, or silent, and 34.3% said that their co-workers occasionally make calls or talk to each other in whispers. 27.9% said that said their co-workers are too loud in the office, and 29.2% said that other noises bother them during the day.

Overtime Woes

White-collar workers in China work a lot, and often feel that they have no time to exercise. 56.6% said they have no time for exercise, while 26.2% said they exercise for 30 minutes or less a day.

They have little time because of overtime work, which often feels unavoidable. Only 28.6% of white collar workers said they do not work overtime. 24.3% work one to three hours per week overtime, 12.2% work three to five hours per week, 12.8% work five to 10 hours per week and 11% work 10 to 20 hours per week of overtime. 11% of workers said that they work more than 20 hours of overtime every week. This makes them close to working a grueling 996 schedule (9 til 9, six days a week).

The amount of overtime a worker suffers through is different per industry. White-collar workers in tech companies work an average of 9.3 overtime hours per week. Those in real estate and construction work an average of 7.1 overtime hours and workers in the fields of transportation, logistics, and storage work an average of 6.8 overtime hours per week.

Overtime hours also depend on one's role in the company. Workers in merchandise-related roles work 8.6 overtime hours per week, those in tech-related positions work an average of 7.6 overtime hours per week. Workers in research and development work 7.4 overtime hours per week, and those in operations, marketing, and finance and sales work less than six hours of overtime per week.

Public Sector Workers Have the Most Meetings

Meetings are a normal part of a white-collar worker's day. How much of the day is spent in meetings depends on a worker's status and role in the company. On average, white-collar workers spend about an hour a day in meetings. 18.1% spend one to three hours in meetings, 4.9% said they spend three to five hours a day in meetings. 5.2% of white-collar workers said they spend almost their whole day in meetings.

Workers in public sector organizations and institutions spend the most amount of time in meetings- an average of 2.28 hours per day. Workers at state-owned enterprises spend an average of 1.48 hours in meetings every day. White-collar workers in the private sector meet the least- an average of 1.15 hours a day. 

High level employees have more meetings than their junior counterparts. On average, senior managers spend 4.05 hours a day in meetings, or half the eight hour workday. Senior professionals and middle managers only spend 1.57 hours per day in meetings. Low-level staff spend an average of 1.12 hours in meetings.

So many meetings, so little productivity. One-third of white-collar workers believe that most meetings they have to attend are a waste of time. 32.3% said that the main point of meetings is for company leadership to share information. Only 27.8% said that meetings are used for communication among staff. 6.4% said that meetings are used for brainstorming and stimulating creativity. 

Source: The Paper

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Keywords: White-collar workers in China workers in China


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These problems are not exclusive to China.

Mar 17, 2016 07:33 Report Abuse



I don't think this article was worth mentioning. I feel life in Shanghai is much easier than any job I had back home in the US.

Sep 14, 2015 12:39 Report Abuse



HAHA, did some douchebag go around just thumbing down every comment? xD

Aug 17, 2015 16:23 Report Abuse



Wow, here's news... not.

Aug 17, 2015 02:21 Report Abuse



and how many of them complained they have nothing to do all day in their office??

Aug 12, 2015 12:30 Report Abuse



At my work we have meetings all the time and it is a beat down of everything we do wrong. After 15 minutes, it is all over and we can leave. Management can care less of our opinions and suggestions. It gets old after a while hearing the same bs every two weeks.

Aug 12, 2015 12:22 Report Abuse



The meeting phenomenon has to do with the top down organization of Chinese organizations. The meetings are used for social bonding as well as a platform for the boss to look important and stately. Discussion, solving problems, and new vigorous ideas are not what they are going for, basically.

Aug 12, 2015 05:21 Report Abuse



I was just thinking this morning. My Chinese colleagues are never early to work yet they all leave late. They are very willing to work overtime but they will never come in early.

Aug 11, 2015 22:22 Report Abuse



I think it has to do with them napping after lunch, they have to work that hour at another time. I always leave an hour earlier since I work from 1 to 2pm while they all nap in the next room. I hate the nap time thingy, I much rather have more time in the evening after work.

Aug 12, 2015 02:36 Report Abuse



Not much use if the survey location is not revealed. Shanghai workers might have very different opinions to Chongqing or Beijing workers for example.

Aug 11, 2015 17:06 Report Abuse



employers exploit

Aug 11, 2015 15:27 Report Abuse