Some Takeaways on #TheFutureOfWork

In the last week of February, 220 people from 31 countries joined us in Bali for the 2nd Coworking Unconference Asia to talk about the future of work. Representatives from 55 coworking communities came, along with researchers, industry consultants, real estate companies, members, corporates, media, banks and government officials.

I am late in posting about this event. As the main organiser, it was a big deal for Hubud, and normally we are told to yell about these things, these ‘victories’ as loud as possible on social media. The truth is, it has taken me the last couple of weeks to both come down off the high of the event and to integrate some of what I learned. In so many ways, it completely blow out my expectations.

Since I have been asked several times since the event, I thought I would share my three main takeaways from CUAsia 2016:

1) Being a ‘coworking space’ is not enough. As the market matures, spaces that do not effectively define their values and mission — and communicate that to their tribe in word and deed — will not survive. However, if you define yourself on being the lowest cost or most beautiful, you are at risk…someone will inevitably come along a little cheaper or a little more beautiful. Be authentically you.

2) The theme of loneliness came up…frequently. People join coworking spaces (at least in part) as a way to combat loneliness and connect meaningfully with others. If the community element is missing and your primary offer is ‘space’, you are missing the point. Over the past year it has been clear to me that the core role of Hubud is in facilitating meaningful human connections, and this was repeatedly reinforced by people throughout the Unconference.

Alex Hillman on #CUAsia2016 Coworking Academy

3) Coworking spaces (or similar nodes) have a significant role in how learning will happen into the future. This one is not a big surprise for us at Hubud: of the 371 events we held in 2015, 70% were peer-to-peer learning events and are a big part of our offer to our community. We as an industry are a platform for knowledge sharing. Watch this space for a related event we are going to do late 2016…if CUAsia delved into the future of work, our upcoming conference in October will go deep into the future of learning.

One other thing that jumped out at me was that two of the most popular panels/discussions were on decidedly non-conference-y topics. One was a panel where people shared stories of their failures, and the other was about relationship issues for coworking spaces owners. Give people a space to get ‘real’ and look out! Who knew? (well, Renee might have suspected it…)

So, a huge thank you to everyone that came out to CU Asia 2016, supported it or in some way helped to make it possible (and shockingly awesome). In the spirit of continuing the connectivity and learning going all year, we launched the Coworking Alliance for Asia Pacific (CAAP) to strengthen the industry regionally and support spaces and teams to get more awesome. We have surpassed our target of 25 companies signed up by the end of its first week which is very cool, and it will have it’s first event later this month.

CAAP will become the chief vehicle we use for facilitating greater collaboration and learning in the future, and will have a number of events (digital and off-line) in the next year for those in, and interested in, the coworking world. Stay tuned!

Finally, a note to say that I love my team at Hubud: Ubud coworking community space and feel so, so lucky to get to do stuff with you. 2016 is going to be a big year!



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