There are a lot more entrepreneurs and freelancers in the UAE today than there were just five years ago. One of the major reasons behind that are the government’s initiatives to boost its entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the relaxation of laws, launch of accelerators, and more. The byproduct of this is popping up of co-working spaces across the country, that benefit not only the start-ups but has also given the property management companies another direction to move into—space as a service.
Co-working spaces allow entrepreneurs or freelancers to rent a small room or even a desk within a larger office, where they can work for the day, week, or month. That way, they do not have the large expenditure and burden of renting a ‘full-time’ office, but do have a desk to work at within a larger office, which allows for collaboration, knowledge sharing and networking, as well as a dedicated place to work other than from home. The concept was advertised aggressively and became mainstream due to WeWork, a US-based co-working space operator that has spanned the globe over the last few years.
Recently, the University of Michigan took a survey to determine the most common reasons people seek such spaces, even when they had started their company at home and could easily continue that model. The results showed that one of the main reasons that entrepreneurs and freelancers opt for a co-working space is that they want to interact with others (84%), learn about random discoveries and opportunities (82%), and share their knowledge with others (77%). This shows the power of co-working spaces, where people from many different backgrounds come together, which allows for knowledge sharing and networking, which was previously much harder for entrepreneurs and freelancers.
In the UAE, we’re seeing co-working spaces pop up in many forms, from cafes and multi-storey buildings to specialised spaces for certain sectors. Dubai in itself has many such spaces, some of them include:
Cafes: 1762 Stripped, Make Art Cafe, A4 Space, which all provide the opportunity to have your own small little desk in a picturesque cafe;
Specialised labs: AstroLabs, Area 2071 in Emirates towers, and DTEC in Dubai Silicon Oasis, where you will find dedicated entrepreneur that are looking to change the world;
Buildings: ONE JLT and Fintech Hive, where you have multiple floors of co-working space.
WeWork, the popular and well-known co-working space provider across the world, has changed the office landscape to be more fun, collaborative, and flexible. It transformed this by providing space as a service to its customers with inexpensive things that overall make a huge difference to the experience of the person working in it. From unlimited coffee to pool tables and foosball, beanbags and a variety of different spaces to suit everyone’s needs. This is radically different from the traditional office, with which WeWork plugged the gap in the market and has brought its concept to major cities across the world.
The benefit of networking and knowledge sharing, which comes from co-working, has not gone unnoticed by the large corporates either. They are now investing money in projects to redesign their own spaces to be similar to the ones WeWork offers. In addition, there is a new trend of corporate co-working that has emerged recently. Companies are now sending their teams to work in co-working spaces as they have seen an increase in happiness and productivity levels. VBN, for example, has its employees working in an office where half of the occupants are freelancers, with which the company aims to teach its programmers and engineers to work with and learn from people that do not work for the company. Moreover, corporate co-working is also a great way to up-skill and train your employees, as they learn from the techniques and skills of the freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Co-working spaces are moving in many different directions in the world, but with one common ground—connecting people and providing comfortable and flexible working environments. Now, if you were an entrepreneur and had to spend a very large chunk of your day working, wouldn’t you prefer to be in a more collaborative, fun and creative environment where you cannot only network but also connect with like-minded people? Co-working spaces are the answer to this. There are many that are popping up across the UAE—look into which one is most suited to your needs and get started on launching your environment that boosts entrepreneurship and success.