As Saudi Arabia's economy diversifies and evolves, workplace requirements are shifting from traditional offices with lengthy contracts to sophisticated, flexible environments. As a result, demand for coworking spaces is increasing, especially for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Despite their popularity in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, such spaces have a lower penetration in Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudi Arabia flexible office space market is exhibiting promising growth, projected at a strong CAGR of over 6% during 2022-2027, according to Mordor Intelligence.
FUTURE WORK TRENDS AND GROWTH TRAJECTORIES
Emerging trends and global shifts in workspace preferences point toward an increased inclination for coworking spaces. Data from the Global Coworking Growth Study 2022 projects these spaces to swell to over 40,000 worldwide by 2024. This trend remains on an upward trajectory, curving steadily in favor of flexible work arrangements, notwithstanding the disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This shift in workspace preference is directly proportional to a revolution in conventional work methodology, fueled by the growing gig economy. Reputed real estate investment bodies like the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Saudi Arabia highlight these trends, citing the gig economy as a critical factor inciting the demand for coworking spaces, including in Saudi Arabia.
GIG ECONOMY WORKPLACE
“The rise of the gig economy and the growing preference for flexible work arrangements have led to an increased demand for co-working spaces in Saudi Arabia,” says Abdullah Alharbi, president, FIABCI Saudi Arabia.
“These shared workspaces provide a collaborative environment that caters to freelancers, startups, and even established businesses seeking agility and cost-effectiveness. The co-working trend is disrupting the traditional office space paradigm and redefining the commercial real estate market, fostering innovation and promoting entrepreneurship,” he says.
For Hilal Halaoui, Partner, Strategy& Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s continuing growth story will have a positive impact on the growth of co-working spaces in the Kingdom.
“As Saudi Arabia’s economy continues to diversify and change, workplace needs are also shifting from traditional office spaces with long-term contract commitments to a more sophisticated and flexible working environment.
“As such, demand is growing for co-working spaces where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can share offices and services in flexible, affordable ways,” he says.
In relation to this, Strategy& Middle East provided an illuminating snapshot of this shift within Saudi Arabia. Their estimate for 2018 saw approximately 40 coworking spaces in operation across the country, contributing roughly 30,000 square meters of workspace.
Their data further emphasized the concentration of these coworking spaces in the prosperous regions of Riyadh and Mekkah.
This thriving trend is catalyzing a significant transformation within the commercial real estate market by disrupting the traditional office space model. Its impact on the commercial landscape is generating a restructuring that is placing coworking spaces as pivotal points, promoting innovation and entrepreneurial growth.
BENEFITS OF COWORKING SPACES
Coworking spaces are an economical solution due to their all-inclusive pricing. Coverage often extends from rent to utilities and office amenities, typically resulting in up to 20% cost savings for businesses. Moreover, coworking setups offer tailored solutions, ranging from single desks to entire floors, embedded with basic, cost-effective business services tailored to match user needs.
Similarly, coworking spaces offer adaptable rental options that meet diverse company needs and sizes. They allow businesses to be agile, easily resizing their operations according to the business tide. In particular, SMEs often benefit from this adaptability, minimizing disruptions and inefficiencies that mismatched space requirements could cause.
Coworking spaces likewise foster a vibrant and diverse professional community, encouraging networking, collaboration, and idea exchange. Encouraging interactions and innovation, such environments are often ergonomically designed with a blend of open and enclosed spaces.
Education and Support
Equipped with comprehensive facilities and essential support services, coworking spaces facilitate productivity. Many offer diverse training and community events that foster continuous learning and connection with industry trends. Furthermore, coworking hubs often provide specific support to startups and SMEs, such as incubation programs and business clinics.
Aligning with Vision 2030
Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 emphasizes economic diversification away from oil dependence and enhancing public service sectors. The surge of coworking spaces in the nation aligns seamlessly with this goal, reflecting the shifting work landscape and championing innovation, collaboration, and economic diversification.
THE NEW NORM
The rising popularity of coworking spaces signals larger shifts in global workplace trends, which have extensive implications for commercial real estate, entrepreneurship, and overall workplace dynamics.
With Saudi Arabia's economy continuing to adapt and diversify, the prominence of coworking spaces is forecast to grow exponentially. Timely investments and policies focusing on this sector could open up substantial opportunities for the kingdom and its thriving workforce.