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A rising tide lifts all the boats - this John F. Kennedy quote perfectly sums up the way businesses benefit when the economy is doing well. But when the tide is not in their favour, investors should learn to adapt and find better alternatives to limit potential damage to their businesses. This is a pressing need for startups, especially after Covid-19 transformed the dynamics of business setup in Dubai. Foreign investors are seeking cost-effective alternatives, and looking for affordable office space has become their top priority in a business landscape that has been redrawn by the pandemic. Renting swanky office spaces doesn’t work for SMEs and startups but coworking spaces and flexi-desks at business centres in Dubai are an effective option that provides world-class office facilities at affordable prices.

Renting an office space is a legal compulsion for foreign investors seeking to set up business in mainland Dubai. Investors get a trade licence from the Department of Economic Development (DED) only if the company has a physical office space in mainland Dubai. This mandatory requirement puts early-stage startups in a tight spot as high rentals prove to be stumbling blocks for them. However, business centres provide entrepreneurs with cost-efficient office options in the form of coworking spaces and flexi-desks. They come fully equipped with all the amenities and furniture, which enables investors to minimise startup costs.

How do startups benefit?

Flexible desk spaces are set to grow and become the new normal in Dubai, especially for young entrepreneurs. Unlike in the past, flexi-desks and shared office spaces are no longer viewed as a complimentary service while setting up a business, especially with the rise in the number of business centres in Dubai. Startups and SMEs are ditching traditional office spaces and embracing the collaborative workspace concept for the following benefits.

1. Minimal startup costs

Early-stage startups and SMEs in Dubai are eyeing low capital expenditure when they start the process of company formation. In a traditional office space, investors are required to sign long-term lease contracts that may require hefty security deposits. Furniture and interior design will further spike costs. A coworking space in Dubai cuts all these costs and let entrepreneurs only pay for what they use.

2. Access to all-inclusive service

By renting a coworking space in a business centre in Dubai, entrepreneurs can subscribe to all-inclusive services at flexible monthly or daily rental plans (depending on the membership plan). The membership plan covers a wide range of services and facilities including a conference room, welcome desk, shared kitchen, IT services, high-speed internet plan and cleaning staff. This also reduces administrative and maintenance costs.

3. Adds professionalism

Startups and SMEs generally lack a professional image due to their choice of location and lack of focus on appearance. Cost plays a key role in these so-called less professional choices. Furthermore, they direct all their energy to forming a company and developing products and services. Setting up an office space in business centres enables entrepreneurs to have a space that looks more professional. Also, most business centres are located in good locations such as Business Bay and Shaikh Zayed Road, which gives startups a premium address.

4. Enhances employee productivity

A collaborative workspace incentivises employee productivity as they get motivated by watching other staff work. It is a great opportunity for employees to work in harmony with likeminded professionals, which would reflect on the quality of their work. Coworking spaces help employees work seamlessly with fewer distractions.

Business centres in Dubai are offering best options such as coworking, flexidesks and smart private offices to big corporates, small entrepreneurs and freelancers.

- Jitendra Gianchandani, Chairman of Jitendra Business Consultants

“Setting up a business in Dubai is a dream come true for foreign investors,” says Jitendra Gianchandani, Chairman of Jitendra Business Consultants (JBC). “And business centres in Dubai are offering best options such as coworking, flexidesks and smart private offices to big corporates, small entrepreneurs and freelancers.”

Flexible offices: How Dubai fares

Dubai is a late entrant to the coworking trend compared to other global cities such as London and Amsterdam. As per a report by JLL, flexible offices account for 8 per cent of total offices in Amsterdam and 5 per cent in London. Coworking spaces account for less than 1 per cent of the total stock in Dubai, which shows the potential for further growth in the sector.

More players are entering the business centre segment by offering world-class coworking facilities. Not only can you form a company in Dubai free zones (DIFC, DMCC, DAFZA, etc) but also avail of the facility of flexi-desk for startups and SMEs. Although startups and SMEs are now exposed to more coworking opportunities than ever, it is vital to choose the right business centre. As the world enters a new normal, coworking assumes a greater role offering investors the opportunity to adapt to future office space requirements.

One-stop solution

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Foreign entrepreneurs are often overwhelmed by the technical, administrative and legal requirements of company formation in Dubai. However, incorporating a company in Dubai is not an uphill task anymore as investors can avail of affordable business setup solutions provided by JBC. Be it free zone, mainland or offshore company formation, there are important legal prerequisites for investors. Understanding the complexities of opening a corporate bank account, filing Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) Returns and maintaining the Real Beneficial Registers or Shareholders/Partners Registers for Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) may appear strenuous for expatriate investors.

JBC simplifies the business bank account opening, ESR and UBO compliance requirements with its robust business setup solutions backed by a dedicated team of qualified business setup consultants in Dubai. Investors need not worry about getting the visa for their employees, parents and family members as JBC’s PRO services ensure swift document clearance. Apart from providing company formation services in Dubai, JBC is now offering modern coworking spaces at flexible rental options. Social distancing requirements have been incorporated into the working space layouts and the flexible spaces let members feel part of a community.

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