Fear of protests disrupting operations forces companies in Admiralty to look for co-working space

By Sandy Li sandy.li@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/3017857/fear-protests-disrupting-operations-forces-companies?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | July 12, 2019 10:22 AM SGT
Some big companies in Admiralty are seeking co-working space as part of contingency plans to prevent any disruption to their operations in case of prolonged protests in the central business district, but such talks are mostly exploratory, say market observers.
"We have received inquiries from big corporates in Admiralty to rent flexible working space as their plan B," said Thomas Hui, chief executive of co-working space operator theDesk.
He said that companies were looking at anywhere between 10 and 500 desks, depending on their existing operations, adding that most of these companies want to remain in Admiralty but away from areas affected by the protests.
TheDesk operates five flexible workspaces in Hong Kong " two in Causeway Bay, and one each in Admiralty, Sai Wan and Sheung Wan.
John Siu, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, also said companies were studying the co-working option "but not on a big scale". He said that most companies, including Cushman have internal plans in place in case of emergencies, allowing staff to work from home or from other office locations.
"Companies had drawn up contingency plans after the Occupy Central event in 2014. But this time, the protests are a bit unpredictable," he said.
Admiralty is an area with high risk of disruption, as hundreds of protesters involved in Occupy Central camped in Admiralty for three months from September 26 to December 15, 2014.
Now, for the past month since June 9, the city has seen massive protests against a controversial extradition bill, with millions marching to the Legislative Council in Admiralty. This has resulted in road closures and transport suspensions almost every weekend to protest sites in the heart of the city's shopping and financial districts.
And even though protests on June 12 turned violent with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters, businesses continued to operate normally.
But Siu said it's not practical for finance companies like banks to move to a co-working space as their operations...