Office rental

HSBC moves 300 staff into WeWork hot-desking site in Causeway Bay

Banking giant denies move is to cut costs. Experts work out shift save HK$23,000 annually per person

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 12:19am

HSBC has rented more than 300 hot desks in a grade A office building in Causeway Bay to house its digital and transformation teams.

The bank took out membership at WeWork’s Tower 535 on Jaffe Road, the US-based co-working office provider announced on Thursday.

“It is the largest corporate membership subscription in the Hong Kong market so far,” said an industry expert.

Other banks were also looking to co-working space to manage fluctuating staff numbers amid economic uncertainties, a spokesman at CBRE said. “Co-working offices can provide a flexible alternative for banks looking to reduce their footprint or for short-term project space.”

Tenants in co-working spaces were not required to pay deposits, take out long leases or make large capital outlays on fitouts, CBRE said.

According to WeWork’s membership plan, the starting price for a hot desk at Tower 535 is HK$6,200 per month. Members can use the venue for seminars, workshops or events. Children are also welcome at its locations.

Industry experts suggest the estimated cost per person of a traditional office space would be about HK$8,170 per month, based on a company employing 300 staff in Causeway Bay and needing at least 27,000 square feet. The monthly total works out at HK$2.45 million, assuming a three-year lease term. The difference between the two options would work out at HK$23,640 annually per person.

Henek Lo, general manager for WeWork in Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney, said HSBC was the firm’s biggest member firm in Asia-Pacific so far.

A spokesman for the bank insisted the move was not to cut costs.

Andrew Connell, HSBC’s regional head of digital, retail banking and wealth management, Asia-Pacific, said: “As HSBC accelerates the build-up of our digital capabilities, our space in WeWork will allow our employees to collaborate in an open plan and agile working environment. Creating the right environment for our staff, working in the same location as other like-minded teams, including Hong Kong’s fintechs and other start-ups, is important to us as we continue to attract, develop and invest in the talent we need to meet our digital ambitions.”

Additional reporting by Alun John