Changing the way we work: HUBUD Founder Interview
There is a lot of discussion happening about the ‘Future of Work’, and we are observing how the rise of the freelancing movement – the entrepreneurship ecosystem combined with the sharing economy and the way millenials think – has gradually developed into a new collaborative and community-driven way of working.
Thanks to this adoption, coworking spaces are rapidly increasing in different parts of the world where the entrepreneurship scene is being nurtured, as is the case in many countries in Asia.
One of the most inspiring and exotic coworking spaces located in Indonesia is Hubud. Hubud is a collaborative work space based in Bali that promotes a community-driven working culture, where ideas are shared and challenged and relationships are developed.
Peter Wall, the founder of Hubud, answers our questions about the concept and success behind Bali’s famous coworking space and shares his thoughts about the future of work in Asia’s growing entrepreneurial scene.
In the photo: Peter Wall, Founder of Hubud.
Q: Can you tell us more about yourself and the inspiration in setting up HUBUD in Bali?
I was a journalist for 10 years with the CBC and I came to Bali on a one year sabbatical in 2010 with my family. My kids were going to a school called the Green school that was particularly an amazing school, and thanks to this unique opportunity for my kids, we realized after a year that we could stay another year and eventually we started getting deeper into expatriate life in Bali.
One of the things I felt I needed for myself was a ‘place to work’, a place to get things done because I don’t particularly like working from home, and so around the same time, I met up with two other expats who faced the same need for a place to work, a place to get out the house, connect with people and be productive, and so we decided to open Hubud.
We did a two week trial in May of 2012, we took over a restaurant and turned it into a coworking space, upgraded the internet and invited people to come for free to try and hangout, and so we found out there was a demand, given that people like the idea and especially, the opportunity, to connect and meet through events. From the very start, we had lots of events and eventually we found a more permanent space in March of 2013.
Q: What challenges do freelancers and entrepreneurs face when they come to Bali and how is Hubud helping them?
One of the biggest challenges for freelancers and entrepreneurs is to build a community because it is very easy to isolate yourself while you are traveling, and Hubud solves that; it also helps to get practical orientation such as getting housing references. We are kind of an instinct community and the biggest thing that we provide is inspiration, where you can get the opportunity to learn and to meet people… as we say “come for the internet but stay for the community”.
Q: In your opinion, what makes Hubud a successful coworking space?
One of the things that makes us successful is that we have a really nice balance of familiar faces and new people coming into the space all the time, especially if there is an event happening during the day. It has an impact on people because the environment is so dynamic and they are constantly hearing new stories and learning new skills.
Q: How would you describe the community/culture at HUBUD?
Hubud culture and community is collaborative, and there is a lot of skill-sharing. We have 25 events a month and a lot of them are about sharing what you know with other people.
On our latest survey, 85% of Hubudians said that they are either entrepreneurs or want to be entrepreneurs, so they have a very high degree of entrepreneurship and also of mobility. We have members from all around the world, people always coming and going, adding an international flavor to the space.
Q: What are your thoughts on the future of work?
At Hubud, we have seen it happening in front of our eyes; nowadays people are rejecting corporate culture and rejecting jobs for life; the future of work is going to be much more entrepreneurial, collaborative and mobile, as we see it happening already. A lot of our members ask themselves ‘why am I working in Chicago in January when I could be in Bali’, and ‘does it really matter where I am’.
Q: We heard that HUBUD is now accepting Bitcoin payment – what is your opinion about promoting Bitcoin as a payment channel in Indonesia?
While living overseas or moving around the world, it is often difficult to move money around, and the traditional banking system is not designed for the current era. Additionally, banks are not particularly very user friendly, so I think that anything that enables an easier flow of money and a freer flow of capital is a good thing. We like Bitcoin at Hubud, our members like it, people are promoting it, and I imagine it is just going to continue to grow.
Q: What are your thoughts about Bali’s startup ecosystem and where do you see the future of the coworking movement going?
There are two different groups of people that are coming to Bali to run startups, one group is made up of Indonesians that are realizing that Bali is a very cool place to live, and they are tired of doing the two hour commute in Jakarta, so they are relocating to Bali. And the second group is made up of expats that are coming to Bali because of the quality of life, the amazing community and obviously, a fantastic local culture, so I think the ecosystem is growing. It is still in its early years, but it will only get bigger as the years go by.
Q: What are HUBUD’s exciting future plans that you can share with us?
We are trying to figure out what the space situation at Hubud will be like in the long term; we are also looking at possibly expanding the Hubud concept to other places in the world because we think that the idea of destination-working is growing; we have shown that we can do it in Bali so why not try in another place. We don’t have any big announcement to make about that yet but come back and check with us in 6 or 12 months, and we will see where we are at on that idea.
Photographer: Raphael Olivier