Conferences and Events

Finding Coworking Success With Hubud Co-Founder Steve Munroe, Part 1

Marc Navarro
Feb 04, 2019
Finding Coworking Success With Hubud Co-Founder Steve Munroe, Part 1

Puedes leer este artículo en castellano aquí.

From February 20th-24th the Coworking Unconference Asia (CU Asia) takes place in Goa India and the Cobot team is eagerly anticipating attending the 5th year of this conference to share and learn from the exciting and diverse Asian coworking scene.

Steve Munroe — Photo by Heather Bonker

Steve Munroe is the Co-Founder of Hubud coworking in Bali and of Coworking Unconference Asia (CU Asia), the largest coworking unconference in Asia.

When we asked him how he ended up in coworking, he tells us the right question to ask is how he end up in Bali. After ten years working for the UN he was in a transitional moment in his life, he and his wife Renee Martyna decided to take a year off “to kind of explore ourselves and find out what we want to do and reconnect and we went to Bali to do that.” There they met dozens of people who were in the same situation and “coworking came about really as the way for us to bring people who were interested in experimenting in a new way of living and working together.” Back in 2012 he had never heard of coworking, but they started to talk about it and soon connected with the other co-founders of Hubud.

Hubud has an international reputation, right now they have 9000 members who come from 85 countries — they are, of course, including the people who worked from Hubud during its 8 years of operation and are now a part of Hubud’s online community. The average age range is 27–35 and most of the people have finished their first professional position. It’s an international community, full of freelancers and a few small teams. “We don’t have offices or permanent positions, all the space is made of flex positions, the space is a very fluid, transient environment. Depending on when you go in you will never be sure who you will find.”

It is a dynamic environment in which people average three-month stays. “If someone is not interested in meeting people at all, this is not the place for you. It is a very inspiring place made of bamboo and recycled wood and other natural materials from Bali. We wanted to avoid recreating a concrete and glass cube that people are running from Singapore, Madrid, and London to escape.” His design mantra is: “Let’s let Bali be Bali.”

Hubud

We were curious how Hubud manages the different levels of energy that there ‘nomads’ have in comparison with their long-term counterparts. “I try not to manage other people’s energy, I tried that for a while and it gets a little fuzzy and funky. We do two things instead: encourage long-term members to help manage the energy of the space and to be involved in creating what the space is like and feels like. The other thing is, maybe, after 6 months, Hubud is not for them anymore as there’s a constantly changing, always refreshing, energy. Some people find there corners to stay away from that and some people are there for years and sit right in the middle.” It’s a question of finding the right fit, which “happens naturally” Steve reminds us, at it happens in any other coworking space in the world.

Hubud has a stellar reputation in helping people managing transitional moments. We ask Steve about that and he got straight to the point: What does being successful mean for a coworking space? And his reply was: “How much they are able to help their members to be successful.” Depending on the concept and context of the coworking space there will be a different approach to reach that goal. “What we know is that we are the space in which people often find themselves in this transitional moment.” Steve hits on dozens of reasons to live off of these moments, he found that the knowledge they gained from people in their space funneled their energy into new programs tailored to their unique crowd. Whether it’s specialized options for location-independent businesses or using business knowledge as a freelancer, Hubud has engaged with and grown from the people in their space.

Hubud

Recently Steve, Renee, and their kids moved to London, and we were curious what led them to leave Bali. They were looking to discover a new place, particularly a large European city. So why London? In Steve’s words: Why not choose one of the biggest and craziest ones!

Right now he’s working with British Land, the second largest real estate company in the UK, and he’s developing a new concept with them, a kind of business lounge, events space, a community anchor that they can add to their office portfolio. What makes this interesting for Steve is British Land’s reasoning. “They were very keen on this idea that community matters. How people are made to feel when they go to work; not just in the confines of your own company, in their own office, but in the environment around them. The scale of this makes the project really interesting because, for example, one campus they operate has 10,000 people, another one has 20,000, and yet another has 40,000 — all in London.” As they are landlords with an over 100 year track record, Steve now has the challenge of adding his coworking know-how to a real estate business, and he’s thrilled to “humanize people’s working experience every time more and more.”

The other project keeping him busy is a collaboration with a Dutch proptech startup focused on community settings in large residential buildings: an app that connects people to each other, with their landlord, to building services, and to services in the community, with the ultimate goal of tackling the loneliness problem of community spaces.

Meanwhile, Hubud’s awesome community team is taking care of everything in Bali, in order to allow Steve and Renee some time to charge their batteries. That being said, they continue to visit quite often just to help ground this special community in such a fantastic space.


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Marc Navarro

Coworking and organization consultant. Content Director of the CoworkingSpain Conference. Created the coworking with social return concept.