Khaleej Times, 6 November, 2018
Millennials – those currently aged between 20 and 37 – are changing the way the world works and are demanding new ways of working. The Dubai real estate sector must be mindful of the changing demands of working and work spaces and react to future needs.
It is very clear that the rising tide of young people entering the workforce are not content with the current status quo. We need to be aware of the shifting trends and ensure we remain agile enough to respond to these changes.
The new way of working to emerge in recent times is using co-working spaces – a shared environment where people doing all kinds of different jobs can work together, and separately, within the same space. The spaces are often very urban, stylish and are far removed from some of the more severe ‘cubicle farms’ of recent times. They allow for freedom, flexibility and a wide range of work environments.
More millennials are joining the workforce, and their presence requires a 360-degree shift in the workplace perspective. There are 14,000 operational co-working spaces globally, and by the end of this year, some 1.7 million people – mostly millennials – will have taken advantage of the new working conditions offered by co-working spaces.
Dubai is a perfect place for co-working spaces. According to the Dubai Statistics Centre, nearly half the population (48 per cent) is aged between 25 and 39 – that’s around 1.2 million people – representing the new workforce, with its bold new ideas.
These people bring many challenges and opportunities with them. Logic and a strong rationale must be applied in dealing with them. Millennials embrace networking and mentoring opportunities, and firmly believe in the notion of the shared economy.
The Dubai government has already embraced the co-working concept, with bold new workspaces occupying the ground level between the two Emirates Towers. Where there used to be retail outlets and dining options, there are now wide-open work spaces – youth Hub X and Area 2071 – both standing as testament to the Dubai government’s forward-thinking policies and ability to swiftly adapt to changing market conditions and needs.
The bright, ambitious young population of Dubai wants to work differently – and the commercial real estate sector needs to facilitate their requirements. While London tops the charts for the number of co-working spaces – with the city housing more than 1,100 such sites – there’s no reason why savvy commercial real estate investors and developers can’t swiftly jump on the co-working bandwagon right here in Dubai.
There has been an influx of larger tech firms locating to shared environments in Dubai and the co-working model is increasingly being seen as instrumental to any commercial building’s future success.
Based on empirical evidence and the 2018 Global Co-Working survey, companies need to take a fresh approach to capture the co-working opportunity. Many property management companies and realtors are advising developers and property owners to incorporate the concept of co-working space into commercial leasing models in Dubai.
While the market shifts to this new, more laissez-faire way of working, a number of trends have been identified. More co-working spaces will focus on industry and sector niches and will strive to differ significantly from competitors. In order to attract young talent, more large corporations are expected to use co-working spaces and increase co-operation with them. Stronger competition will lead to consolidation – which will see some co-working spaces driven out of business. To avoid this, co-working spaces should focus more on sustainable community building and organise more (community) events.
As Dubai positions itself at the forefront of innovation globally, one of the first steps large corporations must take is to partner with co-working spaces to support innovation and idea exchanges.