Flexible office giant IWG’s sixth Spaces centre in Hong Kong will open at WeWork’s former flagship location in Causeway Bay’s Tower 535, becoming the fourth IWG outlet in the city to be grafted onto a space vacated by the once-highflying firm.
Scheduled to begin welcoming users in January, Spaces takes up the 11th and 12th floors of Tower 535, a mixed-use development of locally-based Phoenix Property Investors. The new centre will provide more than 300 workstations and private offices for one to 60 people, Swiss-based IWG said Tuesday.
Struggling rival WeWork made its Hong Kong debut in 2016 at the tower in the city’s main shopping district, occupying eight floors, only to shut down the co-working space earlier this year as part of a broader retreat from the market — leaving another opening for the operator of the Spaces, Regus and Signature brands.
“Brought by the pandemic, the significant move to hybrid working leads to the unprecedented popularity of our flexible work products, and we have responded to these demands by local expansions,” said Paul MacAndrew, country manager for IWG in Hong Kong.
IWG has accelerated its Hong Kong expansion during the pandemic with three new centres launched since 2020 — all of them under the Signature brand, and all in former WeWork space — adding over 150,000 square feet (13,935 square metres) to the company’s portfolio.
An entire extra floor was added in October to the Signature facility at Wharf Holdings’ Gateway commercial complex in Tsim Sha Tsui, with the three-storey workspace now occupying over 75,000 square feet. IWG, which now operates 11 flexible space brands globally, positions Signature as a more upscale version of its market-leading Regus chain.
In February, IWG announced the opening of 50,000 square feet of flexible offices under the Signature brand in WeWork’s former space at The Quayside, a Kowloon East office tower owned by Link REIT and Nan Fung Group. That launch followed Signature’s June 2020 takeover of a 30,000 square foot space in Causeway Bay’s Hysan Place skyscraper and the move into the Gateway location last December.
IWG’s Hong Kong presence includes the six Spaces and three Signature locations, as well as eight Regus centres. By contrast, WeWork now lists seven Hong Kong locations on its website, down from 15 listed in November 2019.
Although the COVID-19 crisis seemed to sound the death knell for the co-working segment, IWG on Tuesday cited internal data showing a rebound of usage based on average user device connections to WiFi service across the company’s centres in Hong Kong.
Usage rose 20 percent in the second quarter of 2021 compared with the previous three months and jumped a further 34 percent in the July-September quarter. September was particularly strong with an 82 percent surge versus August’s data, implying worker eagerness to be back in an office setting, IWG said.
Retail and office landlord Hysan Development, a key player in Causeway Bay, gave a vote of confidence to the flex market with the August announcement that it would form a joint venture with IWG to acquire and operate all of the Swiss firm’s 32 existing Regus, Spaces and other locations in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China’s Guangdong province.
Even New York-based WeWork, which floundered after cancelling its 2019 IPO and falling out of favour with investors, has signalled a fresh start after securing a long-sought stock listing via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.
Ousted founder Adam Neumann hosted a booze-soaked bash at a Manhattan hotel for more than 100 of his earliest WeWork employees last month as shares of the company finally began trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the New York Post reported.