After decades of tremendous growth, China is now an upper-middle-income nation, according to the World Bank. Its reputation as an innovative economy is increasing. Along with its economic growth, China's productivity too has been growing well.
The growth of China's productivity during the last few decades is mainly due to the opening-up and reform policy implemented from 1978 onwards, its labor intensive exports driven manufacturing and investment-led growth model underpinned this extraordinary progress. Yet some strains associated with that approach have become evident in the last one decade or so as these economic drivers seem to be running out of steam.
China stepped into the innovation wave after the wireless internet (together with smart phones) became prevalent. Chinese entrepreneurs have leveraged this technology to create a range of new business models and products that cater to the evolving consumer and business needs. In the race against time and in the midst of hyper-intensive competition, Chinese entrepreneurs have to be fast, agile and adaptive in order to remain ahead of others. They often don't mind using the market as a test bed for experimentation as they fine-tune their business models along the way. Quick experimentation often becomes the core part of the very culture of Chinese companies. Speed, rhythm, intensity and multi-tasking have become parts of the DNA of many Chinese companies. On top of this, evolving government policies and regulations are often a source of uncertainty and they keep Chinese entrepreneurs persistently and highly alert and vigilant.
As a result, many Chinese businesses have formed a culture of "working hard." This is the now widely known as "996" schedule – which means working from 9am to 9pm, six days a week. This has become common place among Chinese entrepreneurs, particularly among large internet-based businesses. The 996 schedule was initially applied in order to improve overall productivity of companies by increasing working hours.