Dubai: Are you worried about the cost of renting out an entire office, when you are just starting off your business? For many new entrepreneurs in the UAE, a business centre might be a good way to start off, before you have sufficient funds to rent your own physical office space.
Business centres in the UAE lease workspaces to clients, which not only provide them with a space to work from but also ensure that they are able to show a lease agreement when they are applying for services like a bank loan.
However, there are two ways business centres offer their workspaces to clients - flexi desks and fixed desks. You can rent either of these desks under a lease contract with the business.
So, if you are a new business in the UAE with a tight budget and no physical office space, here is what you need to know about setting up a desk space with a business centre.
What is the difference between a flexi and a fixed desk?
Ghaith Al Daker, general manager at DUQE free zone, a free zone which started operations earlier this year in Dubai, explained that you can find both the flexi desk and fixed desk options at a business centre in the UAE. However, start-ups are more inclined towards flexi desk spaces because of the price point.
He said: “A flexi desk is a co-working space granted to clients on a limited duration basis per week. The flexi desk is not linked to any specific client but may be utilised by multiple clients at different times. Apart from the price, it is usually part of the basic start-up package for a lease when a client sets up their business. It is also known as a Hot desk, Smart desk, or shared desk.”
On the other hand, a fixed desk space solely belongs to the client and is not shared with anyone else.
"A fixed desk is a dedicated desk granted to clients on a more exclusive basis and is dedicated to only one client and therefore not shared. Depending on the business centre, dedicated desks are usually located in a shared office or a more private open area within the business centre," Al Daker said.
Having a fixed desk allows a business owner to not just have their company name printed on the desk, but also set up their own resources like computer, phone or stationery.
A flexi desk is a co-working space granted to clients on a limited duration basis per week. The flexi desk is not linked to any specific client but may be utilised by multiple clients at different times.
Is a flexi desk suitable for my business?
“A flexi desk satisfies a legal requirement for the business to have a physical address. It also implies that associated services such as phones, internet access, and reception are included,” Mohamed Montasser, the director of operations at Global Link Corporate Services Provider, said.
But, before opting for a flexi desk, you must first analyse if it is a suitable for your business.
Montasser provided a checklist to consider if a flexi desk fits your company requirements:
• The firm is relatively new to the UAE and requires a physical address in the starting phases
• Owners and workers need access to essential business amenities like electricity and water.
• You are looking for a suitable site while you are trying to get a permanent office space.
• You and your employees enjoy working in a shared environment, that provides networking opportunities with other professionals from similar fields.
How do I set up a flexi desk?
Before you decide to get a flexi desk for your business, there are a few factors that you should consider.
One of the most critical factors for businesses in the UAE is choosing the right location. According to Montasser, while setting up a flexi desk in a free zone is affordable, choosing the correct free zone that is appropriate for your business, is also important.
“The cheapest approach to create a physical address for a new firm is to use a flexi desk. However, don't underestimate the location's value," Montasser said.
He added that another reason location is a crucial factor is that the flexi desk should be in the same region as the company's registration. So, if the business licence is issued in Dubai, the flexi desk space should be in Dubai, too.
The cheapest approach to create a physical address for a new firm is to use a flexi desk. However, don't underestimate the location's value.
If you want more facilities for your office, you need to read the fine print of your contract.
“Before committing to a flexi desk, it is usually a good idea to have at least a basic knowledge of the contract you are signing and the details. Some contracts may, for example, include restrictions on the days or hours when the leaseholder can use the facilities," Montasser said.
Some business may combine different flexi desk options, too, depending on the contract and facilities. For example, some businesses use flexi workstations in free zones, and the mainland only uses the location and mail handling services provided by the flexi desk of a business centre. You can make more financially sound decisions if you pay attention to what your contract states.
3. Facilities and cost
The cost of flexi desks can vary from one business centre and free zone to another. How much you are charged depends on the facilities you have access to, such as the size of the desk space, IT and reception services.
Documents you need to set up a flexi desk
Whether you choose a flexi desk space in a business centre located on the mainland or a workspace in a free zone, you will need to provide the following documentation for your business:
• Copy of your passport, visa page, and Emirates ID
• Copy of Trade Licence (for the applicant and all shareholders)
• Business plan summary
• Attested birth certificate
The pros and cons of a flexi desk
New businesses or start-ups may find a flexi desk an inexpensive alternative to physical office spaces, especially if they do not have funds to rent and pay for facilities such as internet, reception, security and maintenance.
However, flexi desks may not provide a long-term solution for your business.
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of a flexi desk, as per the experts who spoke with Gulf News:
• If your business expands, you will need more desks or rooms. You can do that easily through flexi desks, by upgrading your lease contract.
• Networking opportunities and collaborations with freelancers and experts in the same field as you.
• Flexibility of working hours
• A flexi desk may not be enough to apply for a business bank account in the UAE.
• Your personal space may be restricted because you will spend or share desks or rooms with others.
• A business without a physical address and space cannot apply for UAE residence visas.
Are flexi desks affordable?
"This may vary depending on where the business centre is located and on what value-added services are provided with the flexi desk, such as amenities and services provided by the business centre. From a price point, this may vary from as high as Dh16,000 to as low as Dh4,000 per year," Al Daker said.