Coworking Coffee Break #1: Hubud

by Fab

Let’s start this Coworking.Coffee trip around the coworking spaces of South-East Asia with Hubud.

Hubud

Hubud is located in Ubud, in the middle of the island of Bali, Indonesia.

Hubud is the coworking space you could see in school books, if there were school books about coworking. Many people have already been writing about Hubud, and it pops up quite often when you follow travelers. This is why I wanted to talk to the people taking care of the place myself. 
Its community is vibrant, the place looks fantastic, it is ideally located on a paradisiac island with a really nice sun and its business is good.

Meet Sisie!

Sisie has been community manager at Hubud for two years.

Before that, she had been living abroad for a couple of years in Vietnam as a journalist and writer and she was looking for an excuse to come back to Indonesia when a friend invited her to join “A Shifting experience in Bali to gather people, connect and collaborate”. This friend is Daniel Ziv, a documentary filmmaker, and a founding member of Hubud. He also told her she would be the face of this revolution in Bali. And there she joined.

Coworking is changing the way people are working. 

“It is very fascinating”, Sisie says, “we have seen so many changes happening in two years. Some people are freelancers, others are entrepreneurs and all they want is to work in a place where they can be productive but also be social, meet other people, and you cannot do that at home.
Because at home, you have lots of distraction and you get lonely sometimes. If you go work at a coffee shop, there are so many people changing every day and you cannot find a community. Coworking space is there to solve that kind of problem.”

The coworking space is a two-story building with strong wood furniture and classic office equipment. The ground floor is divided into one big open space with air conditioning for members and an outside coffee shop for people choosing a more temporary solution. The top floor is another space for members, with meeting rooms and soundproof booths to give phone calls without disturbing. The Internet network is backed up by two providers to be able to handle failures. People without shoes working there seem like a group of friends working on exciting projects at home.

But having a great installation in the middle of wonderland is not enough, real quick the Big Question arose and as Sisie puts it really simply: “People come to the coworking space, bring their laptop, they work, but then, how we build the community?”

Events events event events!

Hubud founders and staff found out, after trying out different methods, that their success would be built through regular events. There are more than 30 events organized in Hubud each month, with various topics and concepts: brainstorming sessions, skill-sharing talks, unconference, networking events and even Yoga classes. Hubud members come and connect naturally and everybody is free to suggest and organize a talk.

Let’s say that you are an UX designer, you can host a skill-sharing talk for one hour, you share your experience, ideas. After that, people know what you are doing and the next time you meet it’s a great conversation starter!
During brainstorming sessions, our members can come with their ideas and ask for feedback and attendees would be brainstorming for one hour and help out.
We organize events very consistently and regularly and after we started to do that, everything started to roll. People keep coming back.

It seems to be all about making it easier for people to break the ice, communicate and share.

If you are working in a place like Hubud, a rule of thumb is that you have to be open to share, because it’s a coworking space, right? Sharing your skills and experience in hosted events or just when people ask you questions.
Generally, the more you share, the more you will get.

A typical day in Hubud

One could think the community only lasts as long as the visa validity in Indonesia; for instance, people would be members for two months then go back to their home country. But whenever they come back to Bali they always come back to Hubud, “it’s a community really”, Sisie adds with a smile. The staff does surveys regularly and Hubud has different membership options, which give member flexible hours package to use in a month. Members generally stay for one or two months, some more than three.

And, yes, it is very easy to go back to Bali and Ubud, once you have experienced the mass-tourism places to avoid. The living there is really easy, good organic food is everywhere.

It’s easy to get healthy in Ubud and people like to have this quality of life. Ubud itself has also its strong community and it’s a very unique place to be. And it doesn’t hurt also, because it’s beautiful.

 

This guy’s brother stole my fruits in the monkey forest 

And the place is truly beautiful. On a workday like any other in Hubud, you would start your morning, while having a walk through the monkey forest just across the street. It would be quiet and you would see the sun rays through the leaves and monkeys jumping from tree to tree, “it’s a good start for a working day, very inspirational”. You can be in the office in 5 to 10 minutes.

If it is a Wednesday, you could have free yoga classes with a fresh coconut juice. “You already are in a good mindset I guess, and you can be very productive.”

Lots of people do their meetings in the garden, “in the sun, it’s very comfy.”

It is the very opposite to working in a corporate office. So many different things could happen, and interactions. People feel free and are drawn to be in a place like this because of the freedom.
Better than your meeting room.

On the downside, if you come in August and September, with the tourists, the situation can be not as ideal as planned. There are crowds everywhere and prices get higher.

We get also really packed in Hubud for the European winter because people come here. There is almost no tourist though because it’s off season, so the rent is cheaper. December to March is the good time, although it’s a bit rainy, but it’s still nice.

Competition is not feared in Hubud.

There are more coworking spaces opening in Bali right now. Sisie doesn’t really see them as competition because she thinks that the more people know about coworking space, the better. Everybody is contributing to the ecosystem. The shared goal as she sees it is to raise awareness about coworking space and the coworking revolution among the population. She wants people to think of coworking as an alternative and a valid option to shift the work paradigm.

“Coworking is changing the way people work, it’s also changing the way people think. […] How companies are hiring, the way people see the work-life balance. ”

Hubud has several ongoing projects with other coworking spaces, innovation spaces and even governments.

In January 2015, they hosted the first coworking unconference in Asia. More than 135 coworkers, coworking space owners, founders came from all around Asia (Singapore, Japan, Thailand, South Korea…) at Hubud to share ideas about coworking. Everybody agreed to say that the ecosystem is growing and the way of working is really changing.

They also have a partnership with the Jeju island in South Korea. The government is actively looking to support the coworking ecosystem, because they see a great benefit in it. If lots of independant workers are coming to their island, not only tourists, they stay longer than one week, they use the infrastructures, they exchange knowledge with locals. Everybody wins.

Jeju island representatives came themselves to Hubud to have meetings with the staff, and they really want Hubud to help building the ecosystem over there.

The obvious success of Hubud on an international level could be explained by their will to reach out for existing foreign communities from the start. When they opened Hubud, there were other coworking spaces to help them.

Hub Singapore, they are doing really really good things there, it’s beyond space. Because to me, space is just the hardware. It’s about what you do with it, how you build towards community, how you connect all these people, and Hub Singapore and Grace Sai, the founder, have been helping immensely. And there is also Hubba, in Thailand, they are really interesting people. Hub Australia were also helping us. 

And now they are giving their best to help other spaces in return.

We had quite a lot of spaces coming at us to start the conversation, ask about tips, how we do this, how we build the community, and our general idea about this is, yes, please come in, visit us, we’ll chat!

This article is part of a series of adventures written for Coworking.Coffee relating to a coworking tour around Asia in 2015.