For the third time in less than a year, IWG has opened flexible offices under the Signature brand in a Hong Kong space formerly occupied by embattled rival WeWork.
The hat-trick delivers 50,000 square feet (4,645 square metres) of flexible office space at The Quayside office tower in Kowloon East. Signature at The Quayside joins existing Signature properties in Hysan Place in Causeway Bay and The Gateway in Tsim Sha Tsui, which have seen surging occupancy, the Swiss-based office operator said Thursday.
“Hong Kong is a key city for IWG’s growth and strategic development,” said Paul MacAndrew, country manager for IWG in Hong Kong. “We are very excited to be opening our third Signature centre featuring cutting-edge facilities to meet rapidly growing demand in this vibrant gateway to Asia.”
WeWork Drops Half
The Hong Kong government is pouring billions of dollars into transforming Kowloon East into a second central business district. Emblematic of the shift is the 23-storey Quayside, a joint development of Link REIT and Nan Fung Group. The 883,897 square foot office building is anchored by US finance giant JP Morgan and features a three-level retail podium.
The Quayside’s prime location, close to three MTR stations and with numerous bus routes and minibus lines, aroused IWG’s interest, MacAndrew said. He hinted that the trio of existing Signature centres could be just a start.
“We are focusing on growing our network in close partnership with landlords and will continue to open new locations to meet the demand for flexible workspaces, so as to provide customers options and locations that they would enjoy working in,” MacAndrew told Mingtiandi.
IWG, which also operates offices in Hong Kong under the Spaces and IQ brands, took its first crack with Signature last June when it announced its takeover of a 30,000 square foot space in Causeway Bay’s Hysan Place skyscraper. The news came just weeks after Mingtiandi had revealed WeWork’s failure to open a centre it was leasing in the tower.
Then last December, IWG opened its second Signature location at Wharf Holdings’ Gateway commercial complex in Tsim Sha Tsui, filling a 50,000 square foot space surrendered by WeWork.
Following this latest closure, WeWork now lists eight Hong Kong locations on its website, which is down from 15 locations listed in November 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic created what MacAndrew calls “the biggest remote working experiment in history”. IWG is betting against a full return to the status quo as countries step up vaccinations and case numbers fall.
“Workforces will continue to work more flexibly, including time from home,” MacAndrew said. “Agile work strategies are expected to increase in a post-pandemic world, reinvigorating demand for flexible space.”
Jonathan Wright, director of flexible workspace services for Asia at Colliers International, considers IWG well positioned to continue taking over flexible space from competing operators.
“They have a great team on the ground, experience of operating in the market, a global network and a stable of brands to suit a range of assets,” Wright said. “It makes sense for an asset owner to consider IWG, where there is an opportunity to bring in a flexible workspace operator.”
Even so, he sees scope for different offerings in the Hong Kong market, from premium regional operators such as The Executive Centre and The Work Project, to strong smaller operators with a focus on the city, like Hive and Garage Society.
StanChart Leads the Way
The launch of Signature at The Quayside came on the heels of IWG’s announcement of a global partnership with Standard Chartered to provide the British lender’s 95,000 employees access to the operator’s flexible workspaces around the world.
“Up until now, organisations have been taking a gradual step towards hybrid working, but now we are seeing companies of all sizes accelerate this approach as a result of the pandemic,” said IWG founder and CEO Mark Dixon. “Our partnership with Standard Chartered is a prime example of a visionary company with a strong footprint in Asia that is leading the way by taking a radically employee centric approach, empowering their teams to work where is most convenient and productive to them.”
Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Standard Chartered was relinquishing the lease on eight floors it occupies in the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central, with plans to rent out three levels in the Kwun Tong office that the bank owns.
In a Thursday interview, chief financial officer Andy Halford told Bloomberg TV that Standard Chartered would likely cut its global office space by a third in the next three to four years.