Hong Kong SAR: 20 years later, it’s time for 2.0

Hong Kong Island skyline

Has it been twenty years already? 1997 was a memorable year for people in Britain, for reasons good and bad. Among other events, Hong Kong was finally handed over to China, marking a new era for all concerned – Hong Kong especially.

Much has happened in the two decades since, and of the three territories, it’s China with the glowing school report. The nation is exerting its influence from Africa to Indonesia, while domestically cities such as Shanghai are luring top global talent, eager to have a stab at the world’s biggest market.

In contrast, Hong Kong and the UK have both seen relative decline (let’s be honest), becoming increasingly divided and unsure of themselves. The parallels between the two are obvious.

But life goes on, as they say, and Hong Kong is the ultimate embodiment of life. No matter who calls the shots; the territory remains a supreme machine, where 7 million people combine efficiently and tightly to keep its wheels turning.

This is hustle and bustle on steroids (if you’re looking for balance, you’ve come to the wrong place), with Hong Kong operating with an intensity and impatience that makes London feel like a country club in comparison.

Yet despite the blistering pace, Hong Kong feels remarkably risk-averse. If Silicon Valley’s mantra is “move fast and break things”, Hong Kong’s spirit can be better described as “move fast and keep things unchanged”. From tech to housing and public light shows, the city now trails behind Shanghai, Singapore and even neighbouring Shenzhen.

There is, mercifully, a growing appetite for disruption. Call it what you want: fintech, regtech, wealth tech, biotech, travel tech, the movements are out there, eager to cement Hong Kong’s “hub” status in the region, leveraging on the city’s strengths.

To get “there” – frankly there is no final destination, as this is a process of constant reiteration and reinvention – Hong Kong will need to overcome its biggest adversary. Not Singapore, not China, but itself. It won’t be easy.

As Hong Kong enters its third decade and adulthood since the handover, new opportunities (and challenges) await that will better serve the “intrapreneurs” and change makers among us. We could be witnessing the start of a new era altogether. And if anyone can help put an end to the city’s whopping cost of living, beers are on me…

How location independent people can find and join a cause

Two females form a heart on the beach

At the Digital Nomad Conference in Bangkok recently, Steve Munroe from Hubud, Bali’s first co-working space, spoke of digital nomads wanting to give back, but were unsure how. He then elaborated on a solution, Hubud’s co-giving programme, designed to “connect” talent to the local community:

Not everyone is in Bali, of course. But irrespective of location and borders, nomads all over the world may now find and join a cause though the emergence of big online platforms. While digital is no substitute for offline action (on its own it has limited impact, and there is very little in the form of nuance), every little helps:

  1. Change.org. Described as “the world’s platform for change”, Change.org is a tech site used by more than 100 million users worldwide and the biggest for online petitions. More than 38 million have started or signed a “winning” petition. Change.org has a presence in markets such as Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and the UK.
  2. Avaaz. Used by 42,932,198+ worldwide, according to Wikipedia (love the +), Avaaz is a global online movement through which members receive alerts to act on global issues.
  3. Care2. Care2 is apparently just behind Avaaz in reach, providing a platform for 34,453,780 members to start petitions and support each other’s campaigns. Issues are mostly environmental and health related.
  4. 350.org. An online climate change movement, which would surely appeal to digital nomads based in stunning natural locations such as Krabi and Bali, 350.org has supporters in 188 countries worldwide. The website facilitates online campaigns and grassroots organising
  5. Campaign.com. A platform with a strong presence in Southeast Asia especially, Campaign has more than 120,000 supporters in 25 countries. The site allows members to create and support hashtag movements.
  6. 38 Degrees. A UK-based platform, 38 Degrees is (very cleverly) named after the angle at which an avalanche happens. Its online members work together to take action on issues they care about in Britain.

Microsoft, London Loves Business produce guide to flexible working

Lady with a laptop

Microsoft and business website London Loves Business have joined forces to release an ultimate guide to flexible working. At which point I should stop and reveal that I used to work for Microsoft, about a decade ago, but I’ve not had contact with them over this (but yes, I do have a soft spot for them still, though ironically I wasn’t able to work flexibly with them at the time).

The tech giant asks us to consider the following:

Take a moment and hark back to the time you’ve had the best ideas of your professional life. Where were you at the time? Taking a walk? Having a discussion with your friend over a pint of beer? Or, better still – in the shower?

I suspect many of us will probably think anywhere but the workplace, but surprisingly – in my case at least – my best ideas have come about while in the office. This is because of stultifying boredom on occasion, often producing radical ideas out of desperation. (Should I be saying this?)

Accompanying the release of the guide is an article published by London Loves Business with 8 fail-safe ways to make flexible working work for your workforce (that’s a lot of work).

The guide itself is a fun and colourful PDF (2.2 MB) with an overview of flexible working and its benefits, advice on choosing the right Microsoft technologies and case studies of businesses using Microsoft products (including the funky sounding Pooch & Mutt). Appropriately, the guide was written and researched from Pret a Manger and the train (presumably the author was fortunate enough to have a seat).

A roundup of useful apps and websites for digital nomads

iPhone user
Digital nomads, by definition, would not be able to function without digital. Here’s a short list of articles that have emerged this year alone that highlight the best apps and websites for people on the move:

All pages to bookmark and return to!