Get to know Hong Kong's most sustainable coworking space, Banyan Workspace

“At Banyan Workspace, we are committed to the idea that business and community responsibility must go hand-in-hand. Integrating the personal values of our people with those of our company has enabled us to do this."

Banyan Workspace is one of the most sustainable coworking spaces in the hustle and bustle city of Hong Kong. Upon entrance into this beautiful space in the industrial neighborhood of Quarry Bay, you will be greeted by stylishly modern furnishing with a seamless finish. However, look deeper and you’ll find there is so much more to the space.

Hosting entrepreneurs and small businesses from across the city under its canopy, the community is bound by the desire to give back and do better in the way we live and work.

We spoke to Banyan’s co-founder Amy Shroff and managing director Charlotte Lafitte to learn more about the company's concept, vision, and the people involved in bringing this community to life.

Q: Tell us about the concept of Banyan Workspace

Banyan was created for those people who want the flexibility and professionalism of operating out of a coworking space yet are also looking for a more personal, elevated and inspiring environment. As a boutique space of just 50 desks, our team pays attention to even the smallest details, preferring to think of ourselves as partners to your business. Rather than being content to be a "blank canvas," we are proud of our own strong values of sustainability and social responsibility and invite our members to share in all the benefits that this brings.

Q: Where did the name come from?

The large leafy canopies of banyan trees have always acted as a meeting place for generations of merchants in Asia, a place to trade goods, share news and shelter from the harsh environment. For us, the banyan tree symbolizes the importance of community, of acknowledging our shared roots and being conscious that our businesses are part of a greater ecosystem for which we are all responsible.

Q: How do you differentiate yourself from other workspaces in Hong Kong?

Banyan Workspace Hong Kong
Source: Banyan Workspace

We are far more than a simple coworking space. In addition to creating one of the most beautiful and eco-conscious office spaces in Hong Kong, we also pride ourselves on our mission to act as a partner to every business that operates from within our walls, supporting and assisting them in any way we can. Our own business model works in tandem with social impact and sustainability, and we ensure that the benefits of this are shared with our members as well. As a result, we’ve built up a strong community of SMEs and entrepreneurs who come together to discuss the challenges and difficulties that smaller-scale businesses face, as well as share solutions, particularly in the effort to drive a more sustainable and circular business model.

Q: What do you offer your partners and guests?

At Banyan, we prioritize hospitality, fostering a sense of community, welcomeness, and respect for all partners and guests. We believe in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where individuals and businesses can thrive together. We offer strong SME support, generating new connections between businesses, introducing potential partners to each other, and offering networking events to help our members grow their businesses.

We also provide an inspiring model for sustainable design and operations. Everyone who walks through our doors, be they members or guests, leaves with a fresh appreciation and understanding of how they can take simple steps to adopt a more eco-conscious lifestyle. We love to defy people’s preconceptions and show how sustainability can be beautiful, luxurious, efficient and cost-effective!

Q: Can you give us an example of one of your community initiatives?

Banyan Workspace Hong Kong
Source: Banyan Workspace

For every membership, we donate 2% of our fee to one of 5 local NGOs that we partner with. Members get to choose which organization they would like to have as their beneficiary. Our current partners are OneSky (child welfare), Redress (fashion and textile waste), Teach For HK (education equity), Plastic Free Seas (marine environment), and Impact Hong Kong (homelessness).

Q: Tell us about the Green Office Project

The Green Office Project is our sister business that was inspired by visitor feedback at Banyan Workspace. Simply put, it helps Hong Kong businesses accelerate sustainable practices in their own workspaces through a series of services. Firstly, we offer educational workshops and communication assistance as a primary pillar, as building awareness and engagement is one of the key starting points for companies wishing to improve their sustainability. In addition, we
offer guidance and referrals for in-house initiatives such as waste management solutions and green office suppliesoffer guidance and referrals for in-house initiatives such as waste management solutions and green office supplies in collaboration with our partners and suppliers. By sharing our knowledge, expertise, and connections, we are helping businesses to make tangible steps towards a more sustainable future. Our aim is to create a greener and more eco-conscious society, one office at a time.

Q: Tell us about the community of Banyan

We are very proud of the community that has built up around Banyan Workspace. It is a vibrant tapestry woven together by individuals and businesses from a diverse range of industries. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur, a budding tech startup, an NGO, or a local Hong Kong business, you will find a home at Banyan. Just like the Banyan tree, we have created a community where individuals and businesses can grow roots, form connections and support one another. At Banyan, we believe that collaboration and a sense of community are essential for success, and we strive to foster an environment where these values are upheld and celebrated.

Q: Tell us about your community partners. How did you choose them?

Our community partners provide a valuable dynamic to Banyan’s thriving community, and we carefully select partners who are aligned with our mission to inspire sustainability and positively impact the local community. Our goal is to form partnerships that not only bring value to our members, who mainly comprise solo entrepreneurs and small businesses, but also enhance our mission of promoting sustainability. For example, we might partner with an SEO professional or branding/marketing coach to provide our members with the expertise they need to take their businesses to the next level. Through these partnerships, we aim to foster a community of individuals and businesses that support each other's growth and success.

Q: What are your values on sustainability?

Banyan Workspace Hong Kong
Source: Banyan Workspace

Our values on sustainability are at the core of everything we do. We recognize that sustainable practices are not just a passing trend but a fundamental responsibility that we owe to our planet and future generations. That's why we make a conscious effort to incorporate sustainable practices into our daily operations, such as recycling and waste management, data analysis to identify areas for improvement, and choosing eco-friendly options like oat milk. We also take steps to minimize our energy consumption, such as using timers and setting optimal temperatures for air conditioners and lights.

Beyond these operational changes, we also strive to educate and inspire our community to adopt more sustainable practices in their daily lives. Through events and workshops, we provide our members with the knowledge and tools they need to make conscious decisions that benefit the environment. Our commitment to sustainability is a reflection of our values and our belief that every small action can make a significant impact.

Q: Where does the inspiration for decor come from?

Banyan Workspace Hong Kong
Source: Banyan Workspace

Banyan is unique in its design among Hong Kong coworking spaces, from the light-filled and lush oasis of the Atrium to the classic paneling and bookshelves of the Library. From the earliest stages of the design process, we knew we wanted to create a warm and inviting space with its own sense of style and character, the antithesis of those generic empty spaces that the coworking industry has a reputation for producing.

We found our inspiration by returning to the history of the Banyan tree, from sheltering the merchants of the Silk Road to the vibrant markets of the modern day, and added to this a strict adherence to our sustainable values. The result is a warm and inviting space that is at once homely and professional, efficient and luxurious, and that demonstrates how sustainability can be both chic and stylish.