Hong Kong

Working from Hong Kong

Our summer break got a little messy this year. Traditionally I’ve closed the studio for January however this year an Annual Report from one of my long term, very good clients didn’t run to schedule.

It ran late, really late.

There’s no one to blame – a number of factors combined with an ineffective maternity-leave placement meant that final text due in September, was running late in October, causing angst in November and finally landed on my desk on December 18.


I broke the back of the project between Christmas and New Year. The design was already approved and it was actually a joy to be able to concentrate on just one project rather than do the usual bouncing from one project to another. The only complication was that the never-ending rounds of amendments threatened to spill over into a planned eight-day trip to Hong Kong booked for late January.

Not only was the airfare and accommodation already paid for, Greg had a meeting with the Hong Kong Design Centre so cancelling was out of the question.

As luck would have it, the project wasn’t finished, but with the experience of Paris under my belt I confidently packed my studio ready to do the last few rounds of changes OS.

I did take my archive hard drives (even though other clients thought I was one leave), my laptop and just to be sure to be sure, backed up the job on a thumbdrive.

What was interesting is that the time difference between Hong Kong and Melbourne is only 3 hours (compared to 10 hours in Paris last year). I had thought this would mean I’d be doing more work during the day, (rather than early morning/late afternoon as we did in Paris), but it worked fine.

I opened my computer around 9.30am and any amendments were in my inbox. Even the worst only took 2 hours but even so, by the time I got them back to the client (midday my time, 3pm Melbourne time) there was little chance of them returning same day. This meant I could spend the day as I pleased, knowing that there wouldn’t be anything back until the next morning (if at all).

I did keep an eye on emails during the day, which was easy because the hotel supplied a ‘handy phone’ with the room. The handyphone was brilliant.

You can use them to:

  • make local and international phone calls (at no cost) in or out of the room,
  • access the (pre loaded) city guides,
  • act as a concierge to book tickets/find places to eat, and
  • translate for non-English speakers like taxi drivers.

Best of all, the handyphone acts as a mobile WiFi so I could tether my mobile phone for free access to my email/text messages out on the road.  It worked brilliantly, but it’s only available in a few cities so far. If you are choosing between hotels in these cities it’s worth checking they offer Handyphones.

This year we’re spending May in San Francisco but unfortunately the Handyphone isn’t available there.

Like Paris in 2015, we’ve hired an apartment with a WiFi and free international phone calls. The only issue we have to resolve – which was a problem again in Hong Kong – was our inability to access voicemail. Rather than continue fruitless conversations with Telstra we’re going to record a voicemail that reminds clients we’re overseas and asks them to email instead of leaving a message. That way we can return their call at a time convenient to both of us.

Email me if you have any tips on San Francisco…

Carol Mackay

Carol is co-founder of Mackay Branson, a design studio currently celebrating 31 years in business.
Her expertise is in the use of design to package complex content into bite-sized chunks of information that is easy to understand and digest. She does that with clients in the corporate, cultural, government and not for profit sectors. More at mbdesign.com.au