Lifestyle

Editor's Review: theDesk - Co-Working, Hong Kong Style

theDesk

theDesk’s media director, Simon Gillow, is happy to admit that theDesk did not invent the term ‘co-working space’; it’s become a bit of a buzzword across the world, with many entreprenuers trying their hand at it. However, theDesk, he explains is doing things differently. “We are Hong Kong! The founders, the funding, the investors are all Hong Kong people,” he says. “[For us] it’s about finding a unique voice for Hong Kong, instead of taking a model and trying to adapt it here.” As I’m guided around theDesk’s newest space in One Hysan Avenue in Causeway Bay, Gillow underlines the company’s ambitious goals, “Our intention is to become an international co-working and events company with a take on remaining local.”

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Newly opened in December 2017, the space in One Hysan Avenue is the company’s second after their first successful co-working space in Sai Ying Pun which launched in June 2016. The Sai Ying Pun workspace is bigger - around 8,000 square feet and spans across three levels – the two spaces are quite different; theDesk at One Hysan Avenue occupies the whole 14th floor which is about 5,000 square feet and is located in the heart of Causeway Bay. While the space in Sai Ying Pun is cosy, homely and buzzing with startups, One Hysan Avenue concentrates on creating a more professional, calm and focused atmosphere for slightly larger businesses. The design is sleek, minimalist and yet still warm and the workspace is predominantly white, on purpose Gillow says, “It’s about giving people a blank canvas, so their brand stands out.”


theDesk


theDesk

The initial communal space as I enter is open and bright, maximised by glass walls that look into permanent offices and working spaces, private phone booths and an outdoor patio area, which is rare for a Hong Kong office, let alone one in Causeway Bay. There are amenities which Gillow assures me business people these days take as a given; high speed internet access for example. They also provide coffee on tap, a stocked fridge with drinks (that include beer) and lockers for those who need them. Open 24/7 for those who need somewhere to do business with people overseas at odd hours, Gillow calls it a ‘boutique-like space’, where people can do their ‘best work’.

It’s aimed at small but semi-established businesses, who are keen to move out of Starbucks and take advantage of the location and the inclusive community; the website boasts that months before opening, they had reached 40 percent occupancy. Media, fitness and technology companies are among the current members along with social enterprise organisations such as Justice Centre and Helper Choice.

One Hysan Avenue can also cater for business people passing through with a 24-hour pass and hot-desking facilities in the convertible space, with longer passes also available. This convertible space can also be booked for office-wide or private events. There are just under 20 offices which can accommodate companies with as many as around 15 employees for permanent members and two meeting rooms. Once a company occupies an office, they are also free to make it their own with paint, TVs, whiteboards and other personal touches.


theDesk


theDesk

Throughout the tour, I am reminded that the emphasis here is ‘community’ and ‘bringing people together’. This much is clear from the design of the workspaces, the partnerships with outside local businesses, and the formal and informal events and inclusive media services provided to help publicise and market a member’s business. While the focus remains local, their expansion goals are loftier. Gillow explains theDesk aims to open between five and six more locations across Hong Kong Island in the coming year or so, with their next and biggest offering at 15,000 square feet opening up in Leighton Centre in February - a stone’s throw away from their One Hysan Avenue space. They also have their sights set on expanding into Greater China, Singapore and South East Asia with long-term targets on the U.S. and Canada. While they didn’t necessarily coin the term ‘co-working’, it appears they are certainly determined on redefining it, Hong Kong style.

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