We chat with Bobby at Metro Workspace about Hong Kong real estate trends, hybrid working and community.
Bobby, tell us about you, your background, and your role?
My experience is in finance and real estate. I have held roles at Citic Securities and Pacific Century Premium Developments Limited before joining Galaxy Asset Management, a hedge fund in Hong Kong founded by Joe Chan, Founder of Metro workspace.
My role for Metro Workspace is varied. I provide strategic leadership across the group, support the management team, and lead on business development. Primarily, I am responsible for expanding Metro Workspace in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific. It’s an exciting role because workplaces are finally modernizing and evolving, a change that has been a long time coming. My team and I strongly believe that the flexible workspaces are disrupting traditional working models and we are excited to be at the center of the shift.
What is Metropolitan workspace?
Metropolitan workspace represents Hong Kong’s passion and purpose to work in a stylish, inspired, and creative way. We believe that workspaces should be human, practical, comfortable and interesting. To deliver on this vision, we have created workspaces that exemplify our core values in promoting entrepreneurship, connection, and a love of nature. Our offices are beautifully designed using light, space, texture, color, and inspiration from nature while providing spacious, fresh, and ‘open yet private’ environments.
Our mission it to surprise, delight, and inspire Hong Kong’s thriving community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, small and mid-sized companies, and corporates. As Asia’s World City, Hong Kong is the ideal location for building and growing a business. At Metropolitan Workspace, we challenge outdated, rigid workplace practices and create beautiful, affordable, modern spaces that drive productivity and inspire creativity. We empower businesses to define a working model that works best for their business and our locations are ideal for hybrid, flexible, or traditional working – the choice is yours.
What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working is a trust and values-based system that balances the business need with employee wellbeing. There are no set rules with hybrid working and it can take a variety of forms. Companies may, for example, give employees the choice to work in the office or remotely for part of the week. For more on this topic please check out our blog.
How is Hong Kong positioned against places like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Seoul in terms of work trends?
The penetration for Flexible Office vs Total Office Stock is 3.5% which is still the lowest compared with other cities in the region, Singapore 5.3%, Seoul 4.8%, Delhi NCR 4.9%, Shenzhen 5.1%, Beijing 7.2% and Shanghai 5.4%.
Hong Kong is a traditional market, that said it is evolving in relation to work trends. Asia, unsurprisingly, is conservative in its approach to work practices, however, COVID-19 has forced employers to reimagine workspaces and working models. We see hybrid working being widely adopted across Hong Kong as employers adapt to returning to work whilst prioritizing employee wellness and managing social distancing.
Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area is primed to be Asia’s “Silicon Valley”. We have a strong, diverse ecosystem and fertile “soil” for the industry to thrive. The city has an uncomplicated and low tax environment, non-onerous reporting rules, freedom of capital movement and a highly skilled workforce. It is a cosmopolitan environment full of go-getting individuals, well-funded SMEs, and a supportive government.
I believe we have a lot of potential and growth ahead of us made possible, in part, by changes to land use policy. For example, we have seen the Industrial Building Revitalisation Scheme and plans for the northern part of the New Territories mentioned in The Chief Executive 2021 Policy Address, indicating the government’s commitment to and investment in developing areas of Hong Kong. There is strong demand for workspaces in the New Territories and the Metro workspace Yuen Long property reached 90% occupancy in just seven months of operation. We are excited about the new developments in Yuen Long as well as the whole northern part of Hong Kong’s New Territories.
How does Asia compare to the West in terms of work trends?
When compared with (some) markets in the West, Hong Kong is slower to respond to change. Whilst the West is swift to adapt to employee preferences and innovation in relation to evolving working models, Hong Kong lags. It’s not just employee trends such as “wellness at work” that fall behind in Hong Kong; real estate business models are also quite slow to modernize. For example, the real estate management model is well established in the United States and other Western markets. This approach, which offers financial sustainability to tenants and a financial incentive for landlords during market fluctuations, is the go-to overseas. However, to date Metro Workspace is only the second coworking space in Hong Kong that delivers this model.
How can businesses benefit from flexible working?
There are innumerable benefits from offering flexible work options to employees which in turn provides significant benefits to the organization.
Hong Kong boasts of being one of the most prized real estate markets in the world. Offering flexible work solutions provides the obvious opportunity for businesses to reduced fixed overheads like rent, utilities, maintenance, and cleaning thereby improving business’ bottom line.
While flexibility is a buzzword, the term extends past employee work patterns. It also refers to business owners that benefit from being able to scale up or down in line with the business’ needs.
Employee happiness, engagement, and work-life balance
‘The Sunday evening feeling’ or anxieties about work are well known and evidenced. Offering a flexible working solution will help to alleviate the stress and ‘grind’ of the week, minimizing the commute and providing employees with the opportunity to better utilize their time. A happy employee is, after all, a more engaged and productive one.
What makes “Metro” different?
First – space. Our spaces are some of the largest, lightest, most spacious, and well-priced in Hong Kong. The average size of our workspaces is around 7000 sq. Ft. We believe that this is the “sweet spot” that balances space to work and privacy with ample opportunity to connect and network.
Second, community. The Metro client community is a melting pot with individuals from multiple nationalities, industries, and backgrounds, thereby creating a truly interesting and stimulating atmosphere for all. Metro Workspace offers the comfort and security of a traditional office while bringing the novelty of a well-designed, fun, and refreshing environment shared by diverse clientele.
Third, convenience. We operate nine sites in diverse locations, each with its own unique features. This offers businesses the flexibility to choose the option best suited to the organizations and individual’s needs.
Finally, diversity and stability. Metro is best known for its fresh and young approach to hybrid working. What you may not know that that the brand forms part of the stable and well-established entity, the Metropolitan Lifestyle Group which was founded in 2010. In addition to providing Hong Kong’s workforce with spaces that inspire, the Group operates, residential serviced apartments, wine storage, wine cellars, and specialist food and beverage storage.
The Metro (work)space is a lifestyle!
What is your vision for Metropolitan Workspace?
We aim to become the best office solution in Hong Kong and pivot our success in Hong Kong to gradually expand across Asia and beyond. Shared workplaces are here to stay, and we believe work practices will continue to evolve. We have invested deeply in getting the basics right which enables us to be agile and respond to our client’s needs.
Which is your favourite location/property?
We believe that shared workspaces go a long way in decentralizing a city, eliminating the concept of a single “CBD” and potentially creating multiple CBD’s and play a critical role in gentrifying neighbourhoods. In addition to the popular locations of Central and Admiralty, we have vibrant workplaces located in Tsuen Kwan O, Shatin, Wong Chuk Hang and the New Territories. Each with its own unique features, it’s hard to choose one favourite property. That said, we are working on creating “the best of Metro” in our next venture, stay tuned for more on this.
Where can people find out more?
Please check out our website and feel free to contact us through one of the options listed below. Our friendly team will be happy to have a chat and show you around our premises.
Our website – www.metroworkspace.com
Email – email@example.com
Call our General Line – 3955 8550