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Need a quiet place to work?

Not all co-working spaces are about socialisation and blending lifestyle with work effort. At theDesk, they’re taking a different approach: business value delivered with a minimalist design approach. We caught up with OSCAR VENHUIS, Chief Creative Officer, to understand a little more about his vision.

Co-working spaces have become famous for social and lifestyle design elements, but theDesk is more about minimalism; why is that?

The reason why professionals join our community is that we focus on adding business value, not lifestyle benefits. Our members want to get work done. We provide this environment by removing all unnecessary distractions so they can focus on what really matters at our workspace. Minimalism is neither a lifestyle nor a super-visual style element, but rather it’s the result and representation of the way we think about achieving the extraordinary.

What is the link between minimalism and productivity?

Continuous disruptions in the workspace is one of the top reasons why people are unable to focus. A workspace full with distractions reduces productivity whereas our minimal approach gives you the opposite. Less distraction makes focusing and doing complex work easier, and therefore increases productivity at the workspace.

Each space is unique, just like its clients

Your mission statement is “Unlock the power of neighbourhood”; how is the importance of neighbourhood reflected in your design approach?

How many people know those working one floor up or down from them? Imagine now if you could unlock every single resource around you and how this would change the way we work with each other? Traditionally, co-working spaces serve only their own members. At theDesk, our ethos is to include our neighbours, connecting members with members but with our neighbouring businesses as well. This is what we call our ‘inclusive community’.

For each project we include as many local or neighbouring resources as possible. For example our visual identity is developed by our award-winning member Toby Ng Design. This is how we are ‘unlocking the power of neighbourhood’. We involve members and neighbouring businesses in ’designing’ and building our inclusive community. It’s a co-creation approach where we solve problems together with our business community.

Describe your demographic; what are your clients like?

Our business community is a highly diverse mix of locals and expats. They range from successful entrepreneurs to established SMEs and MNCs. Instead of having a single demographic, our community consists of multiple users. We promote diversity (in industry, gender, nationality and so on) so that we can have innovations.

What makes your approach connect so well with this demographic?

Instead of having a single demographic, our community consists of multiple users. To meet their needs, we adjust our approach accordingly. How we establish empathy is different for each individual. Mostly, it starts with just listening to people. Some members just want to have a chat, while others seek professional advice or a business introduction. Each space at theDesk is unique, just like its clients.

How do your spaces differ across Hong Kong?

Certain elements are consistent, such as our colour palette and material choice. This also includes our operations and our customer experience. Consistency establishes fairness and trust; it makes theDesk a safe place for our members. But – and this sounds contradictory – people are unique and our sites differ, from our team to our communities, to our workspace offerings, business approach and branding. They’re all customised and localised. It’s very subtle but a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work for our members.

Personally, what’s your favourite design element of your spaces?

Our brand is unique because the sum is greater than its individual elements – from visual design to organisational design, service design, and design of our unique business strategy. To succeed, all these elements need to work seamlessly together while having the flexibility to adjust and be one step ahead of disruptive change. Vertical reporting and individual mindsets will kill a business. Our fluidity is what I’m very proud of.

To find out more about theDesk and view its spaces across Hong Kong, go to thedesk.com.hk.

See more in our Living in Hong Kong section:

UX Design: A hot skill that’s in demand in Hong Kong
Starting a business in Hong Kong
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