Saying Goodbye to the Rat Race
Fed up with spending the 9 to 5 in a stuffy office? Anna Hart packs her Mac and follows the trend for extreme remote working - in Bali
By Anna Hart
Typing these words, my forefinger sticks sweatily to the trackpad. When I glance up from the screen, I see steam rising from the neighbouring paddy field. As with all workplaces, there’s a steady hum of white noise: coffee being brewed, group meetings peppered with jargon such as “touch base”, “reach out”, “loop back” and “incentivise”.
But Hubud, AKA “Hub-in-Ubud”, Bali, isn’t a conventional office. It is a bamboo and wood building with an outdoor organic café and a pretty garden dotted with beanbags – and monkeys, as it is just 100m from Ubud’s famous Monkey Forest. For everyone who has ever come back from holiday and wished they could have stayed, I am living the dream – and working in paradise.
This is one of a rapidly increasing number of co-working spaces, where freelancers, sole traders and small companies rent desks and share printers and coffee machines. But even within that hip, fast-evolving realm, Hubud is an outlier – and its 250-strong community believes that this highly covetable office environment is the workplace of the future. The diversity of this group also signals another change: that more and more jobs are becoming portable, possible to do at a digital distance – not just web designers and freelance writers but fashion designers, photographers, models, marketers and even a remote-working GP.
|"For everyone who has ever come back from holiday and wished |
they could have stayed, I am living the dream."
As a freelance journalist, I have long been a convert to co-working spaces. I work from Netil House in Hackney, east London, where I share a studio with a jewellery designer, an arts curator and a photographer. Cycling to work, choosing my working hours and studio mates, I feel like I have got it pretty good, particularly compared to the years I spent working long, inflexible hours in a staff job. Or I felt good until I heard about Hubud. Because if going it alone in a co-working space is the first step towards freedom for the growing number of frustrated, ambitious young professionals, phase two is complete “location independence”; also known as “digital nomadism”.
In the UK, thousands of tech workers have already abandoned London for the more affordable, start-up-friendly environments of Bristol, Brighton and Birmingham, and particularly the latter. There, the Custard Factory, Digbeth, formerly the Bird’s factory, is now a hub for tech workers and start-ups, while the Innovation Birmingham complex currently houses about 90 technology companies working on everything from games to business information services.
But when all you need to run your business is a laptop and a Skype headset, why settle for Hackney or Birmingham? Why put up with pollution, urban squalor, rain and high rent when you could open your laptop in Thailand, Australia or Germany – and move on to another hot-desking set-up and Airbnb rental when you get bored of the view?
In his book The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich, Timothy Ferriss paints an intoxicating picture of a new generation of sun-kissed, barefoot entrepreneurs. Ferriss’s “New Rich” are business owners and freelancers who leverage their location independence to indulge in travel and adventure – which they prize more highly than material possessions.
|Anna Hart swapped Hackney for Bali|
To find out if digital nomadism is all it is cracked up to be, I waved goodbye to my husband and set off to try it out for a fortnight. Bali, and Ubud specifically, has attracted writers and artists for centuries – Charlie Chaplin, HG Wells and Noël Coward were guests of the German painter Walter Spies in the 1930s – and from the 1980s onwards fashion designers from Australia, America’s West Coast and Britain set up studios on the island.
The Australian designer Alice McCall has worked between Bali and Sydney for years, while Katie and Millie Jackson, the British designers behind Angel Jackson bags and accessories, divide their time between Indonesia and London, with pieces hand-made in their Bali atelier.
But if the first wave of semi-permanent expats were bohemians, the most recent influx are MacBook Air-wielding digitally savvy independent workers. Hubud’s founders, the Canadian video journalist Peter Wall and the Australian Steve Munroe, who worked for the UN, belonged in this category when they met in Ubud five years ago; both have young families, and had been attracted to the area by the prestigious international Green School.
As with all good ideas, Hubud was born of necessity. “We were all doing our own freelance thing from home, and it just wasn’t that much fun,” Wall says. They set up Ubud’s first co-working space with investment from 25 founder members, installed superfast broadband and began hosting seminars and social events to create a sense of community.
“And then these digital nomads started showing up. We never expected to become a mecca for location-independent professionals, but we have.” Two years on, Hubud is moving to larger premises – the bamboo theme stays, as does the raw-food café – with plans to open more spaces elsewhere in Asia.
Read the full article . . . .
|He's going back to New York pack it up|
and let everyone know
It was something that he should have done
such a long time ago
Still time to start a new life in the palm trees
Billy Clyde wasn't insane
And it doesn't work out there'll never be any doubt
That the pleasure was worth all the pain
The weather is here I wish you were beautiful
The skies are too clear, life is easy today
The beer is too cold, the daiquiri's too fruitful
There's no place like home when it's this far away
I need time for to play
Time for to play