Flexible working spaces in Dubai expected to grow as employees return to the office

Operators across the city are recording high occupancy levels, according to Savills

Office rents in some areas of Dubai have been rebounding to pre-pandemic levels. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Dubai's supply of flexible office space is set to grow as corporate entities look to adapt and employees seek an alternative to working from home, estate agent Savills has said.

In 2018, flexible office take-up by providers accounted on average for about 8 per cent of total office absorption across selected global markets, Savills said. By 2021, this had dropped to 5 per cent as the Covid-19 pandemic led many organisations to transition to working from home.

Savills eyes a "gradually reversing" trend, however, and highlighted Dubai's growth potential on the back of the UAE's strong economic rebound during the past year.

“In line with global trends, the city has recorded a steady increase in flexible space providers over the last few years," said Swapnil Pillai, associate director of Savills' Middle East research.

"Though their share of the overall office market remains limited as on date, it is gradually increasing as new players enter the market and existing providers expand their footprint.”

Flexible office space provides workers with different places and ways to work and can be easily scaled up and down to fit changing team sizes.

Savills picked Dubai among 18 major global office markets in terms of cities likely to drive flexible demand in the coming years.

London, which topped the index, as well as New York (4th) and Paris (5th), are cities where the concept of flexible offices developed and expanded in the years since the global financial crisis and the rise of the gig economy.

In Dubai, flexible space operators across are recording high occupancy levels, with a few players reporting 100 per cent occupancy and charting plans to further expand offerings across Dubai, Savills said.

Office rents in some areas of Dubai have been rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.

In Dubai, Business Bay has led the recovery, with average rents in the first three months of 2022 — the last available period — surging 33 per cent to Dh101 ($27.50) per square foot compared to 2020, Knight Frank said.

HR companies reported that many job candidates now expect flexible working conditions, with a limited number of days in the office.

A study from Hays this year found that working from the office full-time was again the most common working practice in the UAE. It found more than 40 per cent of companies had staff back in the offices about five days a week.

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Updated: September 01, 2022, 9:05 AM