Now in its 6th year, the CU Asia conference has become a “must-attend” event on the coworking calendar for operators from around the globe who are seeking a supportive, progressive, and passionate community to discuss their spaces, issues, and collaborations.
Day one held keynote talks from Ashlee Proctor, a coworking legend who has opened over 100 spaces in Canada, followed by Tara Everett discussing her work in setting up an Indigenous space in Canada, and finally, Steve and Renee on their experiences working in the Bali community with Hubud, and the work to bridge the gap there. Engagement with local communities in all their forms was a key theme of the event, with each presenter sharing their learnings and journey in this vein.
Day two focussed on workshops and operational delivery, with Aaron Balick presenting how to build an emotionally intelligent coworking environment and Carolina Cohen offering insights into how coworking fits into an asset investment category. Our Global Project Lead Ophelie Cutier spoke about the Spacecubed journey and how to scale your community to over 500+ members, which paired nicely with a presentation from Christoph Fahle (Betahaus cofounder) about the history of coworking trends over the past 10 years. I also had the opportunity to present my workshop on building community through collaboration alongside this list of coworking superstars.
Being a workshop facilitator rather than a speaker on this occasion gave me a different level of interaction with the attendees, and led me to make three key realisations:
Creating connections and creating community are not the same
As the attendees of my workshop entered into discussion and workshopped ideas, we realised that the correlation between connection and community was not always automatic. Many of us had taken for granted that this was the case, however seeing how this had played out for different spaces and in different environments really drove home that a connection can be fleeting or transactional, while community is a deeper and more continual sense of belonging.
You don’t have to have all the answers
One of the things I had been most worried about was my ability to answer questions in such a dynamic environment as a workshop, as opposed to a more structured presentation. In reality, on the day I realised that being a facilitator was exactly that - someone to facilitate the discussion. No longer are we in an antiquated classroom with the teacher expected to know all the answers - with open questioning and active listening, the group often answered queries for themselves, and I was merely a guide.
There is something freeing about being more accessible
Having a structure that encouraged more discussion and interaction brought a very different dynamic to the experience for me at the conference. When presenting, or in a panel discussion, the audience has a chance to get to know me, but rarely do I have a chance to get to know them. The workshop format gave me a chance to talk to attendees in pairs as the workshop progressed, gaining a better understanding of their workspaces and their challenges - some universal, and some unique.
So, what’s next?
CU Asia as a whole event was an incredible combination of networking, educational talks, and workshops that helps reinforce what we do, why we do it, and how we can continue to improve. If you’re interested in coworking, or generally creating and enabling community change then I would thoroughly encourage you to put it in your diary for 2021.
To hear more of Kali’s experience at CU Asia, click here to read her full summary of the conference, as well as her personal takeaways from the event. And if you’re interested in finding out more about Spacecubed and how we foster a collaborative community, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.