Time to enjoy a well-earned break

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 December, 2010, 12:00am

Not even a latter day Bob Cratchit would have allowed himself to be locked in a serviced office toiling over ledgers or spreadsheets this past holiday weekend.

Christmas mercifully sees a slowdown in business centre activity with smaller companies taking extended breaks and serviced office teams either revelling in the seasonal respite, or devising new strategies for next year between the mince pies.

Indeed, Cratchit's 'dismal little cell' in Dickensian London would be humming with more activity than most Hong Kong serviced offices at this time of year. The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas To Be would have had little other than empty desks to view had they escorted Ebenezer Scrooge on his journey from miser to philanthropist over the weekend just gone.

Yet, in order for there to be goose on the table, a miracle cure for Tiny Tim and a holiday read, the Directory team put festivities on hold while assessing the meaning of Christmas for Hong Kong's small legion of serviced offices.

Communication and security technology mean there is life at the office, however virtual it may be. Calls can still get through, and if any tenant wants to work over the holiday, they can do so thanks to coded security access.

Sonny Sidhu, manager at Soho Workstation, which operates in three locations on either side of the harbour, says it's not unusual for multinationals to maintain some work activity over Christmas, but smaller companies usually want to save on rental costs or give staff breaks to travel abroad.

'Market activity has been growing but at Christmas it slows down,' Sidhu says of leasing inquiries. 'So, for us, it gives an opportunity to review our services or get new products ready for the initial market stage. It's going to be quiet at our premises, but the security system is running. We'll still have to pick up calls as company managers tend to redirect them to us.'

Soho Workstation factored a 'pub' into its Caine Road premises, so any tenants in search of Christmas cheer can always avail of that part of its canteen facilities. Over at Maui Business Center's Causeway Bay locations in Hysan Avenue and Hennessy Road, gifts of chocolate and a small lunch-hour party toasted the season last Thursday before tenants headed for the pub, airport or some hasty Christmas shopping. Maui manager Joe Lee says because serviced offices operate on a 24/7 basis, it means they are never really closed, despite most people not wanting to be near a computer keyboard at Christmas. 'Business can still be quite good at Christmas time, but it depends on the company or their clients,' Lee says.

She adds that special promotion deals offered by Maui end on Friday. Perhaps it's best to take it easy with the mulled wine in order to negotiate lucidly for a new year serviced office bargain.