Happy 4th Anniversary Banyan Workspace!
Happy 4th Anniversary Banyan Workspace!
On this day 4 years ago, Banyan Workspace first opened its wooden doors to our members and guests in Quarry Bay, revealing both a style and a mission that was previously unknown in Hong Kong’s shared office scene. In the years since, despite our city undergoing numerous upheavals, Banyan has gone from strength to strength, taking its place at the heart of the ‘Sustainable Business’ community. Today, we’ve acquired an enviable reputation not only for the warmth and comfort of our design, but for our deeply personalised service and our dedication to our environmental and social initiatives.
To mark our anniversary, here’s a quick list of 10 surprising things you might not know about Banyan Workspace!
1. Banyan’s founders are a married couple
Banyan was founded by a married couple, Amy and Rasheed Shroff, after Rasheed left his position at a large multinational corporation and was looking for an office for his new business. Unable to find a coworking space that reflected the couple’s desire for home comforts and social responsibility, they decided to create their own version!
2. The design reflects their Hong Kong history
As long-term Hongkongers, the design was inspired by their love of our city’s culture and heritage. From the lockers designed to look like traditional Chinese medicine cabinets to the luxurious velvet curtains and leather-backed books, the intention was to create the feeling of a “home office away from home”. This combination of comfort and stylishness has led it to become a desirable venue for filming and photoshoots out of office hours.
3. The name was inspired by the Silk Road
It is often assumed that the name ‘Banyan’ is a reflection of our focus on environmental responsibility. However, the original inspiration came from the days of the Silk Road, when huge Banyan trees, with their large sheltering canopies, became synonymous with the merchants who gathered underneath them to talk, trade and do business. This resonated with the intended vision for Banyan Workspace, a melting pot for different businesses to come together under one roof.
4. Being ‘Green’ is only one part of our mission
The guiding philosophy at Banyan is that a successful business has a responsibility to give back to the community in which it operates. Sustainability is a big part of that, and we pride ourselves on running one of the most eco-friendly coworking spaces in the city. However, we also focus on our social impact and ethical business practices, including giving a percentage of all our membership fees to local NGO partners, hosting “Giving Back Days” and donating our time, venue and services to support a variety of local organisations.
5. The Banyan location used to be a toy maker’s warehouse
Our Quarry Bay office is certainly unique, with its double height ceilings, quirky staircases and mesmerising seaview. In 2018, while looking for a venue, Amy and Rasheed were chatting to a family friend about their concept, who immediately offered them use of their warehouse in Eastern Harbour Centre. Previously home to a toy manufacturer, the potential of the space was immediately apparent to the couple, who have renovated several dilapidated houses in the New Territories. It took over a year of careful planning and renovations to transform it into the shared office space and events venue you see today.
6. The cakes in the pantry are almost always homemade
The Banyan team views our members as family, and we always go out of our way to make them feel at home. Both Amy and our Managing Director, Charlotte, are keen bakers and love to spread a little joy in the workspace by leaving home-baked cakes or cookies for everyone to treat themselves. Other pantry snacks, such as our cashew nuts and almonds, are sourced from local suppliers, and sometimes we share goodies brought back from business trips by lovely members of our community.
7. Our MD is a qualified Climate Fresk facilitator
Charlotte’s passion for environmental sustainability has been an inspirational force at Banyan, and she has led us down new paths with her creation of the Green Office Project, a new programme helping other Hong Kong companies initiate or improve their own sustainable journeys. As part of the GOP, Charlotte facilitates the hugely impactful Climate Fresk workshops, educating both individuals and corporate groups in the science of climate change in an effective and engaging way.
8. We used recycled construction waste in our lighting
Eco-consciousness was built into the Banyan from the very beginning, thanks to the passions of our founding team members. All our construction materials were carefully chosen to have minimal impact on our planet, including light fittings on our hotdesks and dedicated desks that were created from construction waste. Whenever we can upcycle or reuse something in the workspace, we do.
9. Banyan hosted a wedding during Covid
Our beautiful library is no stranger to hosting special events, such as the launch of ReThink, the opening party for the HK International Literary Festival, as well as regular gatherings such as our Sustainable Connections networking events. But during Covid, we were honoured to host an intimate wedding! It was carefully planned to ensure all the social restrictions of the time were adhered to, but it was still a beautiful day, with flowers adorning the bookshelves and the bride entering via the spiral staircase.
10. “I feel like Alice going through the looking glass!”
We’ve had some wonderful comments from people over the years, but this quote is still one of our favourites! There is something very special about walking into a typical Hong Kong warehouse building and suddenly finding yourself in an oasis of professional chic. To us, it epitomises the unique character of Hong Kong, the awareness that our city is always growing, evolving and reinventing itself, yet remains grounded in the history around us.