Cynthia Helena Rif, co-founder, Witwork, tells us why co-working is by no means a trend that will fade out and is something that we will only see more of in the years to come

The co-working space concept originated in 2005, when groups of entrepreneurs would meet at a communal space, possibly a friend’s house, or a larger venue such as a library and work together. Even in its infancy, individuals saw in it the benefit of a union of great minds in one space, feeding each other’s professional energy. Soon enough, this way of working then started to become a trend with a structured and more civilised approach. At first, people would meet at their favourite coffee places and enjoy refreshments and high-speed internet whilst they worked. Then and more so in recent years, the co-working concept became an official alternative to work and the idea was elevated to a business model where office spaces are developed solely for the purpose of co-working: that trend did not stop only at individuals or freelancers, as many smaller companies adopted this process and saw a leaner way of starting up that saved a lot on their overheads.

Cynthia Helena Rif

Co-working is definitely here to stay, as it is the more flexible approach to the working week. Even some of the largest organisations adopt a regular out of office day and take advantage of these pleasant working environments. Flexibility and work culture are hot topics within the employment landscape nowadays as we see more businesses offer flexibility by allowing their employees to work one day out of the office, in order to avoid work burnout. It is also their chance to tap into the minds of the young start-ups that bring new blood and loads of idea to the heavy vehicle that is a corporate entity. In Dubai for example, the region’s main business hub, many brands would appreciate the co-working space concept that would enable an easier and leaner expansion into the region in their early months of operation. A trench that we shouldn’t forget and that benefits a lot from a co-working offering, the teleworkers; those individuals that work between cities and would appreciate working from a networking area, that will cut some travelling costs for them. Working within these communal spaces is a networking opportunity in itself. Co-working also ensures access to a host of other businesses at your fingertips, and in turn, a platform from which to promote your own business.

A co-working space is far from the formal air of an office environment, yet equally ensures a more structured working day as opposed to working from home. The amenities on offer are often more bespoke than your kettle and standard instant coffee too. Furthermore, separating work from home compliments the strive for work-life balance. Having a confirmed office address for your business will remain a goal for many or even most businesses. The kudos and identity of your own front door is still at the forefront for many business owners. Co-working spaces are a platform to spring from, a starting block and a cost-effective way of running many businesses, at least on a short run, before the shift to a permanent set-up. Will they ever replace the formal office? Maybe the future will witness the rise of a morphed model that combines the trendiness, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of co-working with the structured set-up of that cubicle and “box” office. A model where both corporates and individuals, i.e. start-ups freelancers and digital nomads, share spaces and much more.