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Outsourced Chill-out Zones Prove New Opportunity for HK Companies

Managing dedicated relaxation spaces for mainland companies seen as lucrative niche for third party businesses.

Photo: Chilling-out, corporate-style.
Chilling-out, corporate-style.
Photo: Chilling-out, corporate-style.
Chilling-out, corporate-style.

Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining staff morale in the workplace. A key means of ensuring this has been the introduction of a dedicated chill-out zone into the office environment. While many businesses allocate such a space from their own resources, a number of companies have outsourced this requirement to a third party specialising in the provision of such facilities.

With showing respect for staff one of the attributes most sought out when it comes to assessing potential employers, providing a dedicated relaxation area is now seen as a crucial element in maintaining employee peace-of-mind. This typically comes in the shape of an informal space where workers are free to unwind, chat, eat snacks, brainstorm creative solutions to work problems and get to know their colleagues better.

In some cases, however, the provision of such a space may prove unduly expensive or require excessive management co-ordination and input. In such a scenario, many companies are turning to specialist third party businesses to run tailored chill-out zones for their employees.

In such instances, designated spaces – with such facilities as audio equipment, coffee machines, water coolers, refrigerators, comfortable seating, crockery, refreshments, house plants, storage areas and executive toys – are seen as highly desirable. In order to allow for business-related discussions and project development, it is also suggested that such areas offer Wi-Fi, photocopying, printing and laptop facilities.

A number of companies also specify a themed approach to their on-site chill-out facility. In the past, this has seen businesses opt for a bamboo grove look, a Bronze Age feel, a luxury motorcycle motif or animated character-related décor.

In terms of typical contractual arrangements between a business and its appointed chill-out room management company, this tends to be broken down into two specific areas of responsibility. In the first instance, the management company has a clear obligation to provide a number of basic essentials, including water and refreshments, as well as to undertake all required maintenance and repair duties.

Photo: Executive distractions in a themed setting.
Executive distractions in a themed setting.
Photo: Executive distractions in a themed setting.
Executive distractions in a themed setting.

In less tangible terms, the management company's remit also extends to the more creative and fluid elements of the chill-out zone. This includes input into when and how to update any required theme, any changes to the available snack menu or any alterations to background music played within the lounge area.

Any company considering inviting a third-party chill-out room service supplier to tender for its business needs to consider a few of its key requirements. Firstly, does it want the chill-out lounge to be situated within its existing premises or at an external site? Secondly, it needs to decide whether it wants a space solely for use by its own employees or whether it is willing to share it with other businesses.

There is then the matter of decoration, with companies having the option of choosing from a range of existing templates or opting for bespoke décor. Similarly, any required equipment can be either purchased or rented. Additional elements can also be continually added-on as the available facilities are refined.

Hong Kong businesses looking to extend their services into chill-room management have a number of advantages over their mainland counterparts. With a considerable heritage in leisure management, an understanding of the importance of maximising employee fulfilment and a familiarity with the latest in business and recreational audio-visual technology, such businesses are ideally positioned to capitalise on this rapidly-expanding market.

Joanna Liu, Qingdao Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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