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Remote work in Ubud: two Hubudians build an online music game for RedBull

Going Remote.November 13, 2018
By Elisabetta Crovara

A kaleidoscopic writer and academic researcher, with an interest in urban culture, conscious living and future of work.


Remote work has its perks, but also challenges. Lauren Stern and Bart Proost, two aficionados of our coworking space, can attest to that and decided to make it easier for developers and designers to work remotely from Ubud. Last September, they soft-launched and tested their brand new baby during one of our weekly social hours. I had a good chat with Lauren and discovered more about them, “Ok Bye” and “Tats“, an online music game they built for Red Bull Mind Gamers. Read on, enjoy.

Travel and work anywhere: “Ok Bye.”

Working remote ain’t easy. Yet, it seems to be everyone’s dream. Lauren worked at a jewelry company before deciding to go remote. She knows all about the hustle and bustle of starting off a remote career.

“I think most people don’t know where to start,” she tells me. I agree. That’s why Lauren and Bart created Ok Bye, a project that “gathers a team of developers and designers from around the world in a perk-filled villa to build digital products for innovative brands.”

In September 2018, they formed a team and created an online music game for Red Bull Mind Gamers, called Tats. It teaches music lovers how to play synthesizers: the instrument responsible for so many of the sounds we hear today, from the notification sound on our phones, to the melody of our favorite electronic songs.

How long did it take them? One month. And what a month: living the dream in the tropics, surrounded by an inspiring gang of cool – and highly skilled – cats while also having access to Hubud coworking membership. A strategic mix of team building and community bonding that smooths the sometimes difficult path that is remote work.

Let’s pause here for a second to preach the name “Ok Bye.” I love it. It’s got the same sneaky and entitled attitude of a cat. Cat lovers, back me up with this, you only know what I mean.

“The name has a pretty funny origin” explains me Lauren, “I often say “ok bye” before hanging up the phone, and this became a joke among my friends. When Bart and I were thinking of a name, he threw out “Ok Bye,” and we thought it built really well on the idea of people force quitting their day jobs to join us.”

Remote work challenges and successes

At first, Lauren tells me, they thought one of the biggest challenges would’ve been finding members to join their project in Bali. Hence, they got proactive: instead of waiting for people to find out about Ok Bye, they scouted inspiring communities like Behance and Product Hunt and contacted people they wanted to have in their team.

“We were surprised by how quickly people responded. One of the members who joined us in Bali later told me that at first, she thought it may be a scam. To her, it sounded way too good to be true. A couple of days later, we had a Skype call, and she realized we were serious.” Well, yes, offering to live and work in a magic villa in Bali does sound pretty utopian; but no scam, just simply one of the many benefits of working remote.

However, it’s not always easy. Remote work is not for the faint-hearted and comes with its downsides. Time constraints, deadlines, and other challenges might prove a challenge for your team, but, if smartly managed, these moments offer opportunities for major improvements.

“We knew with only one month to build the game, we had to hit the ground running. Given this, it was great to have the team together in the villa where we could brainstorm and troubleshoot, sometimes even from the pool. In the end, the time limit made it that much more rewarding to deliver the final product.”

When the team departed from Bali, they all left as close friends. They’re still in touch across continents and time zones. “Bart and I keep getting messages asking us when the next Ok Bye will be. One of the team members, Will, just bought a ticket back to Bali, where he’s planning to work from Hubud and grow his freelance business.”

Coworking membership: the pre-launch at Hubud

And who can blame Will. Bali is a buzzing gathering place for location independent professionals around the globe. And, as Lauren puts in, coworking spaces in Ubud like “Hubud provide an inspiring environment to meet like-minded people, co-create and receive impactful feedback.”

The community, as we call it, of “Hubudians,” has great benefits for creativity and productivity. At each stage of their project, Ok Bye asked fellow members to test new features of the game. This allowed them to make sure they’re building something easy, fun and useful for both experienced synth players and beginners.

“Having such a big and inspiring community to turn to, especially when working with a short time frame, was hugely beneficial to our end result.”

That’s why Ok Bye also decided to hold a pre-launch event at Hubud. We provided the space and some fun activities – who loves beer pong?! – and Ok Bye squad made the rest of the magic. They had friends and members to try and play with “Tats” for the first time.

“It was fun to show everyone the final product after they’d tested it and offered advice during the different stages of development.”

Another Hubudian, Fraser from Far Features, captured some of the fun we had in a ‘behind the scene” video. Very much worth a watch to feel the vibes we’re talking about.

One month, one dream team, one game, one villa, one coworking space, one community. Intense and exciting. I ask Lauren how is Tats going now and how her and Bart feel:

“It’s officially launched: we are live! It’s so great to see all our hard remote work paid off. Thousands of people are playing with Tats and learning about synthesizers. There’s never a time when the site is empty, and it’s so much fun to listen to the musical creations shared by people all around the world from the tool we built.”

Likewise. It’s so rewarding to hear this and to have been, together with our members, loyal companions during Tats game and Ok Bye journey, seeing them blooming, evolving and…having fun. Getting emotional here.

Ok. Bye.



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