2016.09.23.5

US-based co-working space WeWork announced on Thursday that HSBC has rented more than 300 hot desks at WeWork Tower 535 on Jaffe Road in Hong Kong to house the bank’s digital and transformation teams, a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report said.

According to Henek Lo, General Manager for WeWork (Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney), HSBC is WeWork’s biggest member firm in Asia Pacific so far.

“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,” said Andrew Connell, HSBC’s Regional Head of Digital, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Asia-Pacific.

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“Creating the right environment for our staff, working in the same location as other like-minded teams, including Hong Kong’s fintech and other startups, is important to us as we continue to attract, develop and invest in the talent we need to meet our digital ambitions,” he added.

He also insisted that the bank’s move was not to save costs, even though SCMP calculated that the difference between the two options would be around HK$23,640 (US$3,048) annually per person.

A WeWork membership costs only HK$6,200 (US$800) per month. Meanwhile, according to industry experts, a typical company employing 300 staff workers in Causeway Bay would need a 27,000 square feet space. It will cost them HK$8,170 (US$1,053) per month, with the monthly total being HK$2.45 million (US$315,900), assuming a three-year lease term.

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Cynthia Chan, Manager of Office Specialist, Asia Pacific Research at CBRE, said that the deal is the largest corporate membership subscription in the Hong Kong market so far.

She also added that other banks are also looking to co-working spaces to manage “fluctuating staff numbers due to uncertainty in the economic markets”.

“Coworking offices can provide a flexible alternative for banks looking to reduce their footprint or for short-term project space,” she explained.