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Dubai: Is co-working the new normal?

suneeti@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 13, 2021
Photo/Shutterstock

Dubai professionals swear by the practice that is gaining more traction even amidst the pandemic.

There is something about co-working spaces that allows people to perform better, and it’s not us who are stating it, various research studies back this claim. It could be the non-competitive environment, a relaxed, non-office-like ambience, or perhaps the choice to mingle with like-minded people. Whatever the reason may be, its popularity and acceptance have ensured the survival of the concept even during the pandemic. Yes, there was a lull last year when we all hunkered down in our homes to protect ourselves from infection, and many still prefer to work from home, but largely co-working spaces are here to thrive with the social distancing measures in place.

Ritu Kant Ojha, Founder & CEO, Seecrz.com, a live and interactive platform for kids aged 5 to 15 focused on developing social, emotional, empathy, creative and relationship building skills has been a part of the startup ecosystem since 2013. He has operated from co-working spaces in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in India, and now operates from DIFC, Dubai. “I first experienced co-working in 2013 in Delhi. I opened my own office twice during the last eight years but every time I found that the community factor was missing in your own office. Being a start-up founder can be a pretty lonely space and it helps to have fellow entrepreneurs around. The sheer opportunity to learn from bright minds, sometimes even problem-solving with them has unimaginable benefits. There are some obvious benefits like not getting into the long-term lease, not worrying about the air-conditioning, or housekeeping, or even buying table tennis tables. A good space takes care of all of that,” says Ojha, adding, the sector has come a long way since then and Covid-19 has disrupted its business model. “The dense and engaging community that was at the core of the offering has suddenly been discounted forcing the players in the sector to shift gears. Hygiene and flexibility to work probably are top concerns of any co-worker as compared to networking earlier.”

Tayce Marchesi and Juliana Cavalari, both freelance communication specialists, too prefer the relaxed vibe of a co-working space. “This place (Alserkal) has a very motivating environment. People all around are working, there are no gossip sessions but invigorating talks when you want to indulge in one. Being in communications, it has also helped me build contacts and network across industries,” says Tayce.

“The flexibility and affordability of co-working spaces works for me. I come here in the morning, take coffee, and start to work. There is free wi-fi and charging points for my laptop. Besides, in Dubai, I haven’t come across any co-working space that is not adhering with Covid-19 safety protocol. So, I am comfortable coming here rather than working at home, which can be a bit monotonous,” says Juliana.

Abdul Karim, a freelance digital creator, has created some of his most popular videos sitting in co-workspaces. “These places are so much better than conventional workplaces. I talk to so many people every day, all strangers, and that’s what sparks your imagination sometimes. I have conceived and created some good digital story ideas sitting here at co-workspaces,” he said, while showing us his Instagram handle @krimium.

Karan Sharma, a senior executive, who is also part of the theatre community in Dubai, frequents cafes and co-workspaces for reading and discussing scripts. “There are open spaces in Alserkal Avenue that we sometimes use, sometimes cafes, or co-working spaces like Warehouse 83, which is one of my favourite spots. You can order food, tea, and just concentrate on what you are doing,” says Karan.

CO-WORKING SPACES IN DUBAI

If you are exploring choices beyond traditional office spaces, here are a few spaces we like in Dubai; just grab a coffee and get started!

A4 Space

Perched in Alserkal Avenue, this is a free co-working space and a perfect spot to work in a relaxed, friendly and creative environment. The space has free Wi-Fi, a cinema room, cafe, and a nook stashed with donated books. Grab a coffee, find a comfy spot, and you are all set to work.

Location: Warehouse 4, Alserkal Avenue

Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 7pm

Warehouse 83

Warehouse 83 is located in Alserkal Avenue, and it is big. Offering free Wi-Fi and comfortable seating in a contemporary and traditional majlis set-up with social distancing measures in place, this is a frequent haunt for a lot of creative souls in Dubai. It’s free to use.

Location: Alserkal Avenue

Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 7pm

TechArc

Another gem in Alserkal Avenue, this place is frequented by creative minds and freelancers, looking for a stimulating environment to work. The place, like many others in the avenue, are adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols and allows admission on first come, first served (or rather seated) basis.

Location: Alserkal Avenue

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday; 10am to 8pm

Open round the clock

Astrolabs

Another hub that is getting a lot popular among tech start-ups in Dubai is Astrolabs. A relaxed environment for like-minded community, this place is not restrictive on hours. It is a 24-hour coworking space, giving you the freedom to come and leave as and when you want. The space offers various office-friendly facilities and coffee and snacks. Packages range between Dh750 to Dh2,500 a month.

Location: Cluster R, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai

Opening hours: Daily, 24 hours

Restaurants & hotels

An aggregator of sorts, companies like Letswork are revolutionising how and where we work. Why restrict yourself to an office space, or a cafe when you can access multiple sites mostly hotels, cafes, and restaurants in and around the city. Sixty-one locations are registered under Letswork and the network is expanding fast with time. You can choose an all-day pass for Dh39 which includes unlimited tea, coffee, water, and Wi-Fi. Packages are available on monthly and quarterly basis as well.

Location: Various sites in the UAE

Witwork.co

Similar to Letswork, Witwork provides access to multiple locations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah. The day pass starts at Dh25 and quarterly packages are available for Dh666. Choices are unlimited with such aggregators around.

Location: Various sites in the UAE

Specialised spaces

The Tharawat Space

It is the first co-working and event space for family business community in the MENA region. Founded in 2006 in Al Quoz, this is part of Alserkal Avenue and promotes entrepreneurship across generations. Family-run businesses get access to networking opportunities through the Tharawat Family Business Forum, a non-profit, private sector business network for family-owned businesses. You need to take membership for using this space.

Location: Warehouse 19, Alserkal Avenue

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 10am to 5pm

DIFC co-working spaces

Based in a financial hub, this is an ideal set-up for tech-related companies. DIFC suggests the place is open for FinTech firms, InsurTech, and RegTech firms. One needs to take apply for DIFC Innovation licence to access the space.

Location: Gate Avenue, Zone D, DIFC

Nook

Designed for professionals in the sports, fitness, and wellness industries, Nook has a tie-up with DMCC and offers commercial licensing and co-working spaces. Members can access on-site gym, studio, basic office facilities, meeting and consultation rooms, etc. Co-working desks start from Dh60 per day, or Dh1,000 a month. There are weekly packages available too.

Location: One JLT, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai

author

Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli has been in Dubai long enough to call it her spiritual home. She loves to travel but plans to settle down in Koi Samui, Thailand eventually to spend her sunset years by the sea. For now, she writes frequently on personal finance, retirement planning, business news and features, health and almost anything assigned by her editor. Her sojourns can be followed on instagram (suneetiahujakohli), news and views on Twitter @suneetiahuja, and for the rest, thereís a Facebook account.





 
 
 
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