In February of this year, I set out on a 13-hour flight from London Heathrow to Singapore’s Changi Airport for a week-long trip. As the Marketing Executive for Aspire APAC, I work remotely for the Singapore office from the UK; this would be my first time visiting, and my first time meeting my Singaporean colleagues face to face!
Business travel can be both a pain (in terms of the long flights and a whole lot of jet lag), and a chance to explore new cultures. Considering that this was the first international travel that I had ever done for work, Singapore was the best start I could have hoped for! With its reputation for safety and English speaking workers, even someone as inexperienced as me could handle everyday interactions very easily.
Below are some of my impressions from visiting Singapore on a business trip.
1. The people are welcoming to expats and travellers
Singapore is known for having a high proportion of expats, largely because of the growing number of opportunities in what is now the world’s most competitive economy. Because of this, there are plenty of communities which are dominated by foreigners, such as in Tiong Bahru and Holland Village.
These communities have been welcomed by the native community, with the growth of English in particular as the primary language of business and trade expressing this. Whether I was on the subway or in the shop, there were always plenty different languages showcased, including English, Mandarin and Hindi.
2. It is at the centre of global development, and it shows
As aforementioned, Singapore has been named as the world’s most competitive economy. Certainly, it is at the epicentre of the world’s development; for one thing, it is often perceived as the bridge between the East and the West, and thus collates their respective developments into one place.
This means several things for the prospective business traveller or expat. Firstly, the offices themselves are clean, modern, and host some of the best technology and equipment you can find. Free Wifi is always readily available in many places across Singapore, especially in places of historic or social importance.
Secondly, the public transport is very efficient and easy to use. The MRT system is particularly convenient to hop on, for both travel to work and travel to attractions in your free time. It is also notoriously cheap, with services on most central lines arriving every few minutes. Again, information and maps are readily available in a multitude of languages. Taxis are reasonably priced; booking these via the Grab app will help reduce the possibility of being overcharged by drivers who take you on unwanted detours!
The airport is another key example of the modernity of the transport system in Singapore. It is the World's Best Airport as ranked by Skytrax, and has been for seven consecutive years since 2013. It is an attraction in itself, aside from being a well-ordered airport. You can wander around a multitude of gardens before going through security.
3. Flexible working is common, so you can enjoy the attractions
As our Workplace Trends Report explains, almost 60% of workers in Singapore are working flexibly on a frequent basis. Asking to work differently from the traditional 9-5 time frame is commonplace, provided you actually work all your hours. If you talk about such with your superiors, they will likely allow it.
For instance, I wanted to be able to visit some of the attractions in Singapore, like Jurong Bird Park. However, most of these close at 6 or 7 pm. Through my boss’ suggestion, I started work a couple of hours early, and didn’t take a lunch hour. As such, I was able to leave early, and spend time at these attractions that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
4. Cheap food is abundant, and award-winning
Singapore has long been famous for its street food. Hawker centres, or indoor food courts with many stalls selling both hot and cold food, are known to host cheap food. Some of these stalls have even been awarded a Michelin star rating, with many of these located in Chinatown.
So, there are many things to be excited about if visiting Singapore on a work trip. If you are considering moving to Singapore, check out this article, which includes helpful advice on what you have to prepare.
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