Office rental

JP Morgan creates new open-floor storey in Hong Kong to improve security and save costs

Renovated space has no assigned seating, has combined 1.5 floors into one, and saved 30 per cent in rental costs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2018, 10:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2018, 11:06am

When Nicolas Aguzin, JP Morgan’s Asia-Pacific chief, decided to renovate one of the 10 floors of its offices in Central Hong Kong into a new-style working environment, his principal aim was to make the business more technologically enabled and create a modern workplace that fits the requirements of its new generation of staff.

The better-than-expected outcome also achieved substantial rental cost savings and a higher degree of security.

The US investment powerhouse has turned the 28th storey of Chater House – one of the city’s landmark addresses – into a fully, up-to-date working space, making it the first investment bank in Hong Kong provide a range of seating styles and unequalled amounts of room dedicated to teamwork sessions.

“Our decision was all about pursuing a better way of working that encourages innovation, collaboration and embraces modern work styles,” said Aguzin.

The new office has no assigned seating, enabling the bank to consolidate its workspace.

Its banking division combined 1.5 floors into one, leading to 30 per cent saving in the banking division’s rental costs.

“That cost saving was meaningful, ” added Murli Maiya, its managing director and co-head of investment banking coverage in Asia-Pacific.

While the next generation of technology supported the bank to make its workspace more “mobile”, he says, it also enhanced levels of security for the investment bank.

The bank installed 38-inch curved monitors to better protect screen privacy, and white noise generators installed in open spaces cut the sound of people’s voices.

It will take a bit of time for all senior people to get used of it [senior managers’ new open-floor desks] ... it is quite fun – this is how we started our careers
JP Morgan’s managing director and co-head of investment banking coverage in Asia-Pacific

It has also fitted out 26 sound-proof rooms to allow for more confidential phone calls by staff, and the open-floor seating plan has underlined its new “clean desk” policy.

“We are striving to create a paperless environment, which will lead to a higher degree of information security. You have no place to leave paper,” said Maiya.

And to reduce the burden of hierarchy every managing director now sits among their teams, on the shop floor, so to speak

“It will take a bit of time for all senior people to get used of it,” he said, after spending 15 years with his own office, but who now sits at an open-floor desk

“It is quite fun – this is how we started our careers,” he said.

But the renovation is just the beginning,

“We don’t think this is a one-stop journey, we keep making things better,” he adds.

Looking ahead, Maiya would like to see the bank use facial recognition, too, for staff to gain access to the building, in a further security move.

“To me, that’s a natural evolution.”