Trend likely to continue with the proportion of office stock offered on a flexible basis increasing over the next five years
Dubai is leading the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with regards to the introduction of flexible office spaces, with the emirate offering almost 70,000sqm of stock across 55 projects, an industry expert has said.
According to a report by JLL, the global real estate consultancy, this trend is likely to continue with the proportion of office stock offered on a flexible basis, increasing from less than 5% today, to as much as 5% over the next five years.
The amount of flexible space in the 20 largest offices grew by 30% last year alone, JLL said in its new report, ‘Disruption or Distraction’, which focuses on the flexible office space sector and the challenges and opportunities it presents for companies, investors and developers across the EMEA region.
This concept has the potential to disrupt the office market as it currently operates, the report stated, pointing out that flexible space operators are now targeting larger, established corporates, in addition to their traditional focus of freelancers and start-ups.
It added that Dubai stands out in the MENA region, with 55 projects offering 70,000sqm of flexible office space. However, the report also stressed that the sector remains relatively small, accounting for less than 1% of the total office space in Dubai, compared to more than 3% in key office markets across Europe.
The flexible office market in Dubai is currently dominated by two types of operators – international, serviced office operators and landlords, particularly those hailing from free zone authorities. The major international operators include Regus, ServCorp and My Office, that between them operate from 25 locations in Dubai, supplying more than 27,000sqm of space, it said.
“Dubai is set to embark on the global trend of flexible office spaces, one of the biggest shifts in the real estate industry in the wider EMEA region. With ever increasing focus from occupiers in Mena on new ways of working, the human experience and cost efficiencies, the need for flexible office space is now stronger than ever,” said Dana Williamson, head of offices and business space, JLL MENA.
“As a firm, JLL is able to advise occupiers, investors and landlords alike, on how to respond to this shifting focus, allowing office markets in our region to continue to support optimal company operations and new business growth,” she noted.
Toby Hall, the director and head of Office and Business Space Leasing in the UAE at JLL, said: “We believe that landlords in the region should be considering flexible space as a viable option to counter the effects of increased vacancies as well as providing an amenity corporates and SME’s increasingly require.”
“As regulations are being relaxed in UAE to