Business Advice & Ideas

The digital nomad and the hybrid office


02 Nov 2021

Co-working spaces have been around for some time. Remember serviced offices and business centres? They still exist and perhaps they are what led to the co-working space as we know today.
Driven by the nomadic nature of new businesses and entrepreneurs, and we cannot ignore the new hybrid work environment these days, co-working is a very convenient way to create an economic and collaborative way of doing business.
The business centre
The hotel business centre was the origin of a co-working centre. They provided the travelling entrepreneur or freelancer the options to have access to a computer, internet (before it became as ubiquitous as it is these days) and related business services. These are still available but perhaps in a completely different form or function because they are no longer used as frequently as perhaps the coffee shop and the lobby of a hotel given that internet access is almost ubiquitous and business traveller will work where he (or she) can just plug in.
The serviced offices

As businesses expanded and the economy opened up to the rest of the world, a lot of serviced offices cropped up. The likes of Servcorp and Nasab offered entrepreneurs the convenience of a leased office space.

They offered a fixed fee and were useful as office convenience and covered all the essentials of a proper office including meeting rooms, a shared reception and other services including a pantry etc.
These serviced offices still exist and they suit some businesses who are not quite as nomadic and prefer a conventional office at more reasonable costs.
Co-working spaces
Co-working spaces work on different business principles from the serviced offices and the business centre. They provide a collaborative atmosphere that is so in line with the digital nomad that is the new entrepreneur. These co-working spaces do not lock people into long contracts, suiting this new breed of entrepreneurs.
You could say that a lot of the new co-working spaces probably emerged from the set up spaces offered by incubators and accelerators for some of the startups they support and include as part of their cohorts. These spaces offered not only space for them to work from, access and network with other startups, mentors as well as access resources for running their businesses. These valued co-working spaces is based on the trust between its members, and not on profit-squeezing.

Your co-working spaces like the Co-Dubai or The Nook were started probably like the incubators and evolved with time to go beyond and open to the digital nomad. Several of these also help with business set up and related services.

However, the likes of Letswork and Witwork, have changed the game even further. Not content with traditional offices – both include traditional office rental, hotel business centres within their portfolio – they offer options of working with local businesses including cafes and restaurants with perks that include free coffee, tea, internet (a given) and parking for some. They provide a new flexible option to businesses where not only are they a viable (and economic) option for the new breed of entrepreneur and digital nomad, they provide a new lifeline and touchpoints for local businesses.

Whether we like it or not, the digital nomad and the hybrid office is here to stay. It’s time we embraced the new way of working and getting our caffeine fix at the same time.