2018 brings us new conferences and if you follow us on Twitter, you know that our team just returned from CUAsia, this year’s first big coworking event.
The coworking community came together in Penang, Malaysia for the fourth CUAsia conference. With 323 attendees from all around the world and over 40 speakers on various topics this was the largest CUAsia so far. As always, it’s been an honor to support the event as a sponsor and welcome everyone into our pop-up coworking space.
Under the theme “Colorful Connections”, the conference explored the concepts of community, belonging, mindfulness and collaboration. It was all about recognizing the differences but focusing on what brings us together and gives unity to the coworking movement.
Day one started with Spotlight Malaysia. As the name suggests, the focus is to introduce the local coworking and start-up scene and how the local government supports them. The Malaysian Government presented a few of their most recent initiatives to help local small businesses and start-ups: MAGiC (Malaysia Global Innovation and Creativity Centre); MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation) and MTEP (Malaysian Tech Entrepreneur Program).
Next day it was time for Coworking Academy, which is a day directed to people who are just starting their coworking spaces. It’s a great way to get the discussions rolling during the conference fringe programme.
One presentation — among the many interesting one — that stood out to us was the talk by architect Laurence Loh (Think City), known for the restoration of the Blue Mansion. His inspiring talk outlined how to put people first when designing a space so that it becomes a place.
The official CUAsia programme started on the 8th. The opening sessions were held in the beautiful Majestic Theatre, built in 1929 to be the first cinema in Penang to screen Chinese talkies — which was the perfect stage for the unexpected lion dance in pre celebration of the Chinese new years.
Wan (PAPER+TOAST) kicked off the conference by telling us about Malaysia and its cultural and religious diversity — and the food, of course. This communal heritage could be seen on old Kongsi houses — shared living and working spaces popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries (the word ‘kongsi’ means ‘share‘ in Malay language) — and, as Wan suggested, this Malaysian legacy of collective cohesiveness is the core of what we today call coworking.
“Everyone knows what a desk does and all desks do the same” Laís de Oliveira (Hacking Communities)
Coworking pioneer Ashley Proctor, (312 Main, GCUC Canada) showed up to share her personal experiences on how they lead to the creation of several community-driven coworking spaces and a coworking health insurance: COHIP. She explained how creating a safety net and fighting for solo workers rights is essential to give people the freedom and support they need to pursue their own goals.
“Don’t underestimate the impact of our collective approach. Talk with others about what you have in common and how you can help. Don’t show off. Ask a lot of questions. Be open, vulnerable, and honest. And remember that individually, we are one drop, but together, we are an ocean.” Ashley Proctor
“The most important person is the one I have in front of me right now” Yizhao Zhang
The following sessions and Unconference topics continued in that vein, and asked similar questions: how to create a safe and supporting environment for everyone, not just your members, but your team too? How to turn competitors into collaborators? How to grow a network of partners? How to improve work and life balance to avoid burnouts? How to foster the feeling of belonging?
After all, this is really why we signed up for this anyway: to be a part of something meaningful.
Thank you for another great conference
Finally, the best part of any true coworking community event, is the people and the connections you make that make it worthwhile. And in that regard CUAsia really stands out. This is not exactly a conference that simply tries to please everyone. It’s clear that this is a very thoroughly curated event and that the organizers put a lot of thought into who they invite and the content they want to present. There isn’t a single speaker or panel that feels a bit off.
After each year you’d think that it would be difficult to make this conference much better, and yet the team behind CUAsia is able to improve on an already great conference again and again.
At this point we’d like to send a big THANK YOU to the Coworking Alliance Asia Pacific (CAAP), Hubud and PAPER + TOAST teams, for producing and organizing such an inspiring event. Thanks also to everyone who joined and made it such a memorable experience.
We’re already looking forward to attending again next year in GOA, India, and would encourage anybody who is interested to register here. CU in GOA!
If you are interest in learning more about building and managing remote teams, you should check out Running Remote 2018. It will be held at Hubud in Bali, Indonesia on June 2018. Hubud is the coworking space behind CUAsia and it was the host for its first two editions.
Where should we go next?
We’re planning more coworking/workplace/etc-related events to attend as a team. Which ones do you go to and/or would recommend us? We’re open to events of all sizes, locations and even languages. If you are organizing anything, be sure to let us know!
If you aren’t already using Cobot to manage your coworking space, give it — and our Ezeep integration — a go! Just sign up for a free trial or a live demo session. You’ll find our features can help you run your coworking more effectively and grow your community.