Work, naked.

naked hub

naked Hub - it has nothing to do with nudity, and it has nothing to do with clothes either. It’s a rapidly expanding brand of co-working spaces. The “naked” part is more about being free, not to have anything holding you down and not to have anything covering you up either. As their tagline says, it’s ‘Work, redefined’. I learn this as James Kay, naked Hub’s Community Head, walks me around one of two co-working spaces the Chinese brand currently has in Hong Kong. 

naked hub seating area

The co-working space concept evolved out of a series of eco-retreats that the naked Group Founder and Chairman, Grant Horsfield and his Chairman and Chief Design Officer wife Delphine Yip-Horsfield developed together in Moganshan, China. The native South African brought to the table his business acumen and entrepreneurial drive while Hong Kong-born Delphine came armed with a Masters degree in Architecture from Harvard and years of experience on various prestigious projects. While working on resorts, they found that people would come and ask to work out of their offices for short periods of time, and that’s when the lightbulb moment came: co-working spaces. 

naked hub people

That was in November 2015. In the following 17 months, they established 12 naked Hub co-working spaces in Shanghai alone that had some 95% occupancy; today, they have 33 hubs either established or being developed globally. This year they are expanding into Vietnam, Australia, London and India, among other places. The co-working arm of the naked Group prides itself on four foundations: design, technology, hospitality and community. 

Delphine, who leads a team of 50 in-house, naturally runs the design element. Not outsourcing also means that they are nimble enough to reinvent, change, adapt and evolve quickly. Technology is a key focus for the naked Hub too, with an in-house team of 37 people working on proprietary property that’s custom built for the brand. Coming from a beginning in hotels and resorts has also given them an edge over others. A background in hospitality gives the duo a better understanding of improving a ‘hubber’s’ experience and by default, their productivity and business. 

naked hub meeting room

Finally, community is a staple element of what co-working is all about and something that both Hong Kong hubs clearly exhibit. Given they are Hong Kong’s first two hubs to be created, it was important to keep them close enough to be collaborative but far enough to absorb different facets of Hong Kong and the surrounding communities, Kay tells me. The hubs are a pleasant ten-minute stroll from each other; the Bonham Strand hub finds itself firmly in the heart of the Central district and somewhat more convenient, while the New Street hub absorbs the more relaxed and creative vibe of Western Sheung Wan. Due to open in August this year, the next naked Hub in Hong Kong is scheduled to launch in Kwun Tong, taking up 58,000 square feet in a grade-A building, complete with a rooftop terrace and sea views. 

naked hub deco

While the two Hong Kong hubs share some similarities, they feel quite different, although they share three things in common with all other naked Hubs globally. They all have a “green wall” with live plants to help produce oxygen and therefore productivity; they all have free beer, coffee and soft drinks and all are open 24 hours (with the exception of a few) to cater for those with clients in various time zones. From here they all begin to differ somewhat, but the similarities between the Hong Kong counterparts continue. 

While the Bonham Strand hub stretches over 16 floors and the New Street hub only three, they both have Living Rooms which are co-working spaces during the day and event spaces most evenings, catering for paid and unpaid events that include monthly mixers and feature off-the-wall ice breakers. They both have ping-pong tables and a large bar area, whilst also featuring a sizable outdoor space, which is hard to come by in Hong Kong. 

naked hub roof

Users of the hubs can have a membership that allows them to work in any of the co-working common areas, some of which are purposely quieter than others; there are open offices where one can reserve a desk shared with others and then there are the private offices which can be reserved for one company and decorated as you like. Each floor is also designated a mildly risqué fruit instead of a floor number as a tongue in cheek reminder that the naked Hub believes that work and play should be closely aligned, while smaller meeting rooms are named after rare animals and larger meeting rooms after prominent figures from either China or Africa, like the Mandela Room or the Xiao Ping Pong Room. 

naked hub living room

Both hubs feature local artwork, however the New Street hub has a dedicated gallery space to exhibit smaller up and coming artists. Finally, all members have access to the app, which gives access to connecting to others, booking meeting rooms and staying on top of events, among other functions. Though the spaces have differences to reflect the surrounding community, the emphasis here is on seamless accessibility across all hubs globally. As Anjali Nihalchand, Head of Marketing and Communications, underlines as my tour of the Bonham Strand hub draws to a close, “We’re here to make hubbers more successful in both life and business.”