BY SHARMAINE TAN
Is PR all work and no play? The hours may be long and the work may be challenging, but that makes a good break from work especially important, particularly when it is one that we take together as a team.
The Singapore team recently spent a few days in Shanghai, exploring the city and having lots of fun together. At first glance, a team offsite might not seem like anything out of the ordinary – but this was the first ever offsite for the Singapore office, so it was surely special for us!
Before we arrived in Shanghai, we made sure that we were prepared with the must-have apps, in particular, WeChat and Didi Chuxing (China’s version of Grab or Uber). As we had expected, we saw rampant use of WeChat – not only for messaging, but also for mobile payment at almost every corner, from small roadside stalls selling food to large retail chains. While buying bubble tea, we noticed that people even used WeChat to pay for small purchases like a drink!
This made us think back to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s 2017 National Day Rally speech, where he talked about how Singapore could learn from China’s advancements in e-payments, highlighting the widespread adoption of WeChat Pay and AliPay in China among consumers and merchants alike. Seeing the system in action first hand made us think about how they rolled out this system throughout the entire country, and also left us wondering what it would be like if something similar were to be implemented in Singapore.
Since a key theme of our trip was to observe China’s development and advancement over the years, we made time to visit some of Shanghai’s most iconic sights, such as The Bund and the historic former French Concession, and the Shanghai World Financial Centre amidst the world’s tallest skyscrapers.
Our first sight of The Bund left us thoroughly impressed by the beauty of the skyline. The river, colourful skyscrapers, and twinkling lights made for an incredibly beautiful sight, and our walk along The Bund was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, as well as a keen reminder of how much (and how quickly) this city has developed in such a short period of time.
Another of our favourite destinations was the Shanghai World Financial Centre, where we were brought up to the 100th floor. Despite the foggy weather that day, we still had an impressive view, as well as a thrilling time walking across the glass bridge and seeing the city right beneath us!
The Final Night – Singing and a Surprise
Our final night in Shanghai was spent doing one of our favourite team-bonding activities – karaoke. To give some background, we have occasional karaoke sessions in Singapore as everyone gets to participate, and we also get to sing along to the latest hits that we hear on our office hi-fi system. Naturally, it was an easy decision to spend our final night in Shanghai belting out both old classics and newer songs.
However, it wasn’t the wide song selection, high-definition music videos, or large TV screens at the karaoke venue that we noticed the most. What surprised us was the level of service –how attentive the staff were, and how they really went out of their way to ensure we were well taken care of. We were completely taken aback by this level of service, but looking back, we were thankful that they were so attentive, even down to the smallest details. We believe that this exemplary level of customer service is testament to the drive and commitment of the Chinese people.
Rounding Up The Trip
Safe to say, our first team offsite was a success, and it left all of us amazed and enlightened by what we saw in this modern, beautiful city, while also feeling motivated for the year ahead. Beyond the city itself though, what truly made the difference for me was the company. Although we see each other at work almost every day, this trip definitely helped us to understand one another better on a different level, and to see the fun, quirky, and caring sides of everyone. We had all our meals together, and some of the most memorable moments include the long conversations we had over lunch and dinner, laughing over jokes and sharing stories. It was also nice to see that the team was always looking out for each other. From always ensuring the group was together, to volunteering to buy breakfast for one another, the team spirit was certainly a big highlight of the trip. This truly is what makes Newgate and the culture here so special – the camaraderie we share, and the willingness to always go the extra mile for each other.
Till the next time!
Sharmaine joined Newgate Communications in late 2016 after graduating from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She particularly enjoys humming along to music in the office and is extremely grateful for colleagues who accede to her song requests and willingly put up with her singing.