Unleash your creativity in a co-working space - GulfToday

Unleash your creativity in a co-working space

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Co-working spaces can be accessed from breakfast time to late in the evening.

By Manjula Ramakrishnan

The UAE’s co-working culture is rapidly shifting with the influx of new startups, digital nomads, and freelancers. Striving to leave the office behind, WitWork is a network of co-working spaces and meeting rooms in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah.

“With the recent surge of remote employees and startup companies, we noticed traditional co-working spaces became too crowded and expensive. So we went looking for overlooked areas in hotels, restaurants and coffee shops and revived them with our concept. WitWork is one of a handful of emerging co-working spaces that’s part of a pioneering movement towards office-free working,” says company founder Cynthia Helena Rif.

WitWork’s top co-working spaces include Revo Café, Maison Mathis in Arabian Ranches, Cargo in Dubai Marina’s Pier 7, Le Petit Belge in JLT, various Rotana F&B outlets and lounges, and several more.

Cynthia speaks about how the co-working concept is a win-win for all stakeholders.

What exactly is a co-working space in the modern day scenario?

A co-working space is a platform that transforms facilities across town into co-working and meeting spaces for digital nomads, giving them a chance to work and find inspiration outside the traditional office setting. Any unutilised space can turn into a co-working area as long as it has the essentials; high speed internet, plugs, comfortable seats, positive environment and coffee.

Cynthia Rif

WitWork founder Cynthia Helena Rif.

Is the concept of co-working spaces a new one and how well has this idea been received by working professionals?

The co-working space concept originated in 2005. Groups of professionals and entrepreneurs would meet at a communal space, possibly a friend's house, or a large venue such as a library and work together. Even in its infancy, individuals saw the benefit of a union of great minds in one space, feeding each others’ professional energy. This way of working started to become a trend with a savvier approach. People would meet at coffee shops and enjoy coffee and high speed internet while they worked. In recent years, the co-working concept has become its own entity, and the idea is being elevated to a business model where office spaces are developed solely for the purpose of co-working. It isn’t limited to self-employed professionals and freelancers, many smaller companies adopt this process and save on their overheads.

What are the advantages of co-working spaces?

Co-working spaces feature a variety of working solutions from private desks to shared-office spaces. These spaces are designed to create an environment that encourages collaboration and chemistry. It offers working with fellow professionals and an uninterrupted environment, free from meetings and office distractions. Global research by Deskmag and Deskwanted suggests that 74 per cent of professionals are more productive when in a co-working space than in a traditional office. Besides, co-working spaces are a buzzing hive of professionals from a range of industries. Watch your address book grow with vital new contacts, and spark new business opportunities. Often a common issue with launching a business is spending more than you have even started earning. Co-working spaces are a solution to that problem – costing a small fraction of what an office’s rent would be. And finally inspiration doesn’t follow a schedule. Co-working spaces can be accessed from breakfast time to late in the evening. Watch your creativity flourish now that you are not bound to a desk and tight timeframe.

How does it benefit both the employer and the employee?

For the employer it promotes employee productivity and efficiency; increased motivation due to not being enclosed in a tight space; happy employees, positive thoughts and the feeling of freedom and cutting office rental costs. For the employee it is an opportunity to meet more people and network; unwind at a nice space, be more efficient and productive sans office pressures.

How affordable are these spaces for startups?

The spaces are incredibly affordable for startups, for all that is required is a cost-effective monthly or yearly membership fee.

What do the outlets that offer these spaces gain from the arrangement?

It promises increased footfall, especially during quiet hours; it presents a marketing opportunity to a new tier of customers. 

What are the personal advantages for an employee outside his corporate role?

It cuts down on commuting time, for a person can choose a co-working space in terms of proximity without the rigours of reaching an office during peak traffic time. The time thus saved can be utilised in pursuing other interests during evenings and it affords more family time.