In Qatar, tradition dominates all aspects of life, even in the workplace, with traditionally-designed and styled offices with plain coloured desks and computers. Bringing a change to the office format and changing how businesses work is the new concept of coworking or shared office spaces.
Coworking occurs when entrepreneurs and businesses, large and small, operate in a shared working environment and therefore can create collaborations. Coworking or shared spaces are effective because they are cheaper than full-office businesses; and since it is a rented space, with provided maintenance and other facilities, there are fewer responsibilities. In addition, coworking spaces create networking opportunities between businesses within the same space.
With more millennials joining the workforce, Qatar is just beginning to move away from traditional workspaces or offices to more modern and innovative ones. There are a few coworking spaces in Qatar but mainly in business or incubation centres. Qatar Development Bank (QDB) offers coworking office space that is similar to an incubation programme for those who are about to register their start-ups or to existing budding start-ups seeking a co-working space as their starting office. The shared workspace programme runs for a year and can be renewed after the one-year programme is complete.
But there’s a new wave of purely coworking-dedicated businesses setting up shop in Qatar such as Servcorp and Workinton, offering dedicated desks to virtual offices to fully-furnished private offices for a fee per month.
Servcorp is one of Qatar’s leading premium serviced office space provider, offering fully-furnished, IT-equipped five-star serviced, virtual and coworking spaces.
Fabienne Hajjar, Servcorp Senior Manager — Qatar, Lebanon and Iran, said: ‘Servcorp is leading the way in the coworking industry in Qatar. Servcorp is the first workspace solutions operator to introduce the coworking concept to Qatar.’
According to Hajjar, benefits of coworking spaces include:
• It is cost effective – typically 25% saving compared to 1:1 office.
• No capital investment required.
• Flexible contract terms: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis with no long term obligations.
Pay as you go model: From day one, companies already have a team on hand to assist (on a part-time basis).
• Networking opportunities: 40,000 members part of a community to work with, buy from or sell to; and unlimited access to a global network of 165+ coworking spaces in 23 countries.
• They can grow their space as they grow their company.
• Coworking spaces are helping start-ups to connect with a range of professionals supporting them to grow and expand. In addition, coworking spaces present a major opportunity for larger companies to leverage new ideas and embrace innovations and entrepreneurship. Multinational companies have also found coworking centres fertile ground for recruiting new staff directly from start-ups.
‘We have initiated partnerships with different entities such as Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC), Qatar Development Bank (QDB), Bedaya, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Qatar University…to support start-ups and entrepreneurs. In addition, we are creating awareness through our advertising activities, social media platforms and community meets events to encourage local businesses, branch offices and international companies to embrace this concept,’ said Hajjar.
Servcorp recently reopened its latest coworking space in Qatar, Burj Doha, in April 2019, offering businesses all the advantages of a coworking environment. The newly refurbished five-year-old Burj Doha is Servcorp’s third coworking space with the two other offices being in Tornado Tower and Commercial Bank Plaza. According to Servcorp, at least 80% of these offices are occupied with benefits such as clients being able to grow their business by trading within the Servcorp community across the region. Servcorp now has three coworking spaces in Qatar, over 160 worldwide and over 50,000 members of its global commercial community.
In the 10 years Servcorp has been providing its services in Qatar, it has seen the coworking or shared office concept evolve. ‘It went from trying to convince businesses that shared office space is the best solution in 2008 to businesses looking for shared office space to establish their companies with a total business solution’ said Hajjar. ‘It has been a long journey to introduce the coworking concept to the local market and now we receive enquiries who are actually looking for a shared space. It is impressive and we are so proud to have initiated and contributed to this change,’ said Hajjar.
Corworking space such as Servcorp’s Burj Doha are non-traditional, fully-furnished offices which provide workplace solutions for companies looking to establish a branch office, entrepreneurs looking for flexible workspaces to host their teams, and local business looking to cut their operational budget.
‘Servcorp is looking to expand its coworking spaces in Qatar and the Middle East…It’s important for businesses to ensure that environments of this kind provide the services they are looking for. The essence of Servcorp’s coworking space in Doha is that it does not only offer businesses all the advantages of a coworking environment, but you also enjoy secure super-speed Wi-Fi, a professional secretarial team, and unrivalled infrastructure and IT support,’ said Hajjar.
‘By 2025, up to 30% of all workspace will be dedicated to coworking and Qatar is following this trend at full speed,’she concluded.
As a pioneer of the coworking space culture in Turkey, Workinton opened in Qatar in October 2018 at Alfardan Centre in cooperation with Alfardan Properties to further encourage a coworking space culture in Qatar. Workinton provides ideal workspaces and affordable fully equipped serviced offices for those looking to escape the isolation of a home office or coffee shop. You’ll never work alone at Workinton. Members will have a chance to create new collaborations with other members simply by sharing the same environment.
‘We are not a business centre. We are a large-scale networking organisation with a physical colourful space, and what we offer are spacious common areas where people can get engaged, grab a coffee together, and talk about business and life,’ said Workinton Country Manager, Kerem Mergen.
Coworking spaces: Saves you from searching for an office, rent, and paperwork with spaces to work, develop, network and even rest. In addition, coworking spaces offer you countless opportunities to network or collaborate with other members from around the world. Daily or monthly use options are available.
Serviced offices: Allows you to choose monthly use options for as many people as you wish. ‘Serviced offices are individually allocated to each member. We give the keys and they can use it 24/7 with security and so on. All of these offices come fully furnished. We have a catalogue of our furnishers so we can mix and match however they want to fit out their offices. They also come with 55 inch televisions and landline phones. What is included in this plan is absolutely everything,’ explained Mergen. Serviced offices include a professional team of secretarial services, 24/7 access, security, cleaning, high-speed free internet and complimentary coffee, teas, beverages, croissants and fruit.
Virtual offices: Your files and cargo will be received on your behalf while your calls are being answered with your company name by an experienced team. ‘In this market, virtual markets are not needed very much since you can’t register your license under virtual offices, so what we offer are secretarial services, a PO box and meeting room usage,’ said Mergen.
Meeting rooms: Three meeting rooms of different sizes for meetings, seminars, conferences, interviews and more – consider for in-house performance management or recruitment processes. ‘We have 220 sq m of total meeting area. We have three of them. One is for board and executive meetings, commonly used by our members. The second one, the medium meeting room, is for training and workshops and can take up to 30 people, and the last and largest meeting room can take up to 90 people for conferences or seminars. These meeting rooms can also be rented by non-members,’ explained Mergen.
Once you become a member of Workinton, you can use the meeting rooms and other services which are inclusive. You will also receive a welcome kit with a Workinton member card. ‘With that card, you can have benefits and privileges in many different restaurants, outlets, gyms, car rentals and so on,’ said Mergen. ‘We like to keep our members motivated and add value to their lifestyle and standards so that they concentrate more on their work,’ said Mergen.
‘We always say three things: 1) soul needs motivation to work better 2) mind needs concentration to work better 3) body needs ergonomy to work better and that’s how we ended up with our slogan, Workinton is where people work, better,’ he added.
Currently, Workinton has at least 40 members, representing more than nine companies such as Information Service WLL (InfoServe), Mavericks365 and Startupbootcamp.
Coworking spaces are colourful, vibrant spaces aiming to inspire and motivate office users and members. Workinton has motivating quotes on every corner, such as ‘No limits to dreams’, ‘Work smart, play hard’, ‘Don’t give up!’, ‘Sorry, we are busy changing the world’ and more. In addition to the abundant coffee and tea nourishment, there’s also a small race track around the office to keep you up and running.
Just five months in, Workinton is already planning to expand with more branches across the city. ‘We are here to leverage the startup system in Doha with a very aggressive expansion plan and to bring like-minded young talented, artistic people together to facilitate further partnerships and add value to their businesses,’ concluded Mergen.
Author: Ola Diab
This feature is from the ‘Special Features’ section in the latest issue of Marhaba – Issue 75, published in August 2019.
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