The millennials who get their brainwaves on the ocean waves – their office is a luxury yacht cruising the Med
Could Hongkongers be tempted to follow a group of young Dutch workers who switched their office cubicles for inflatable meeting rooms, sunbathing and waterskiing breaks on board a yacht office in the Mediterranean?
The demand for more flexible working spaces is a global trend, and in Hong Kong we’ve seen a slew of co-working spaces open. The office cubicle is dead – and any millennial worth their salt wants to work as remotely as possible. Now a group of Dutch twenty-somethings have gone one step further – working on their tans in their office on board a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea.
“We have an inflatable meeting room and on Thursdays and Fridays we do our brainstorming sessions in the middle of the ocean,” says Raoul Milhado, managing partner at Boatsters, speaking from the yacht anchored off the coast of Majorca, Spain.
The 27-year-old and his business partner Nick Gelevert came up with the idea one rainy day in Amsterdam. There they were stuck in a boring office while renting out stunning yachts to the uber-rich, wondering if they could get a little closer to the lifestyle they were achieving for their clients. And they did. In May, Milhado, Gelevert and six key staff from their management team moved onto their aqua office, The Pershing 88. There is also a captain and a stewardess on board.
The yacht has waterskis and plenty of deck space for sunbathing, but despite these distractions Milhado insists productivity is up 20 per cent.
“If we’re sitting on the deck after dinner and the phone rings we pick it up, discuss a booking. It doesn’t feel like work. We’re available all the time,” he says.
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They’ve only had a couple of instances of “cabin fever” and in each case this has been easily resolved – the yacht returns to harbour at weekends so staff can do their own thing.
They spend 70 per cent of their time in the waters around Majorca – close to many of their clients – and the rest of the time in the south of France, the Italian Riviera and Ibiza. Milhado is convinced that this is the future for offices.
“I don’t believe in cubicle offices any more. You don’t get inspired – there’s not enough air or light. At the end of the day, work is your life and you’ve got to get the most out of it,” he says.
Of course, it helps if you are in the luxury yacht business and have the contacts to make it happen, unless you have €20,000 (US$23,950) to €40,000 a week for rent. Milhado says there are cheaper boats, beginning at €1,500 a week, although it’s the flash mega yachts that they rent to DJs, soccer players, entrepreneurs and their “old money” clients.
Despite Boatsters’ claim that this is the first “yacht office”, satellite networks allowing fast Wi-fi connections mean individuals have been working at sea for some time, though perhaps not a whole team. Is this something that Milhado thinks will catch on in Hong Kong?
“Definitely. If people aren’t ready to do it full-time, they could rent a yacht for a week and take their team from Hong Kong to Macau or wherever they want to go. Being on the ocean is great for brainstorming, it brings more creativity,” he says.