Office Culture for Expats - What am I walking into?

I think management, assuming that is your role if you are if you are not out in the bullpen with the rest of them, set the pace for the staff. So if you are leaving early, the troops will see that as a signal they can too, perhaps they would like some flexibility in their hours. So I would not necessarily think your choice of hours will make you a target for gossip, it might in fact be the opposite!

There is one proviso. You should make it very clearly known to staff they are free to keep hours like yours. If this is not in your remit, you should raise it up, under the banner of equal treatment for all staff.

Best thing I have ever learnt is to buy treats for the office each week. Cheap stuff but just something.

Food in Taiwan communicates something that I have yet to decipher.


In Taiwan I’ve found it surprisingly affective.

This is very common for upper and middle management. Coffee one day, cake another day, little treats for each person whenever you travel (something the place is famous for), etc. I treat a small team here to afternoon treats before most vacations. I also buy treats when I return from travel. It’s a nice gesture and I’ve found it really helps with relationships.

With some of the guys, you might go out drinking but Taiwanese aren’t big drinkers in the way Koreans and Japanese are (I mean not every guy necessarily drinks). So you will have a small group that you might do this with every once in a while.

I also do sports with a small group of guys. Every once in a great while. But again, it helps with the relationships in the office.


We have a saying here: 拿人手短吃人嘴軟. Basically means if you accept the treats you shall return a favor. Sometimes people would say things like how pretentious you are but they still have to give you face in public. I’d say it’s pretty effective, but not the only choice, especially for a foreigner. They probably wouldn’t bad mouth a foreigner for doing that, a lot of people just assume all Americans are funny and nice people.

Yeah fat and jolly lol.


Yes. And they’d also assume all foreigners are Americans :joy:

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Amen. Food works not only in Taiwan but worldwide.

Thanks all for suggestions. Buying rounds of drinks or snacks is easy enough. Now that I think of it, I should’ve brought snacks from the US so as not to make it look so obvious. Instead I’m just trying to share my culture. :joy:

Really I just want people to respect me enough to do things when I need them. They don’t report to me so need to rely on influence.

My situation is a bit unique in that I have a small team in the office (rest are in the states), but most of the staff here does not report to me. My manager is not in Taiwan either. Rest of the staff here are in another division. So I cant go making waves trying to change their culture, but I’m not going to sacrifice family time for the sake of looking busy and staying late.

I offered my team to work the same hours and they didn’t want to. Nobody wants to come in before 9, but I like the quiet first thing in the morning. Last year, pre covid, I was here for a few weeks and literally the one turning the lights on in the morning and the first to leave.

What kind of company? Small, big, local, western, …?

So you are concerned about what a bunch of people outside your reporting line are going to think about you? You’ve got a sweet deal, don’t have to worry about local politics. Enjoy it and stop worrying :slight_smile:.

International company with offices all over. Originally Asia based.

Not really worried. But people that respect you will do shit for you. I look at every connection as an opportunity that could lead to something else. Even if people are lower on the totem pole, they still might have skills I could use.


I do that too, except when you do it too often, some people begin to request things, e.g. “Can you not get anything sweet? I prefer salty.” To which I’d like to reply, “You want a menu?” :roll_eyes:


Reminds me of Mr. Vito Corleone

Because Americans are all foreigners, after a fashion…

Ha! Well maybe it’s my line of work…but what matters is your “Rolodex” :card_index: to use an antiquated term. And my general approach to life.

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It seems you can’t go wrong, really, but bringing things in to make the workplace a little nicer because that is what you do already, will probably do just that.

My favorite thing was to bring in a breakfast pizza on the last Friday of the month at one employer, another, I would treat different production teams to lunch after completing some nasty task in ~46° heat

I am reading Dune right now, so here’s a quote


Sounds like they needed better working conditions, not a sandwich.

Well it was a glass factory, they were furnace technicians, and I was precisely no one’s boss. Bringing in food was pretty much the only lever I could pull.


First of all, you can’t please everyone and if your tokens of goodwill are ignored then there’s no use in continuing handing them out.
If you want to be respected, be responsible, reliable and lead by example. If someone in your team fucks up, it is upon you to show them the error of their ways but in front of everyone else it’s your responsibility to cover their asses to some degree.
If my team (8 people + me) had a successful month, I’ll treat them to drinks and food. Sweets and Biscuits are provided more or less by everyone.
My team consists largely of young people so I had the opportunity to form the office culture to some extent.