Digital nomad, a word, a concept that seems to be floating around the internet with increasing regularity often accompanied by images of tropical locations with twenty-somethings looking outrageously tanned and healthy frolicking in hipster juice bars with oversized headphones and all the latest tech.
Sound familiar? Thought it might.
It also could make people feel that if they didn’t fit that demographic then being a digital nomad is not the right fit for them.
That raises the question, what is a digital nomad?
Digital nomads are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job. Digital nomads work remotely (telecommute), which is now economically possible due to cheap internet access, smartphones and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to keep in contact with clients and employers. (def: invevstopedia.com)
That’s the technical definition from Investopedia, from which we can see that a digital nomad does not need to be of a certain age, or have a passion for tropical islands or hot climates. Essentially, digital nomadism is about doing your work from where you’d prefer, whether that is from home, a café, co-work space, airports, hotels or a juice bar.
I am a digital nomad
I work remotely, every day. And often not in tropical locations, mainly due to my other life commitments. At Christmas last year I worked in a cabin in the mountains in Norway, doing a few hours after everyone left to go skiing and then heading out at whatever time suited me to ski, play and enjoy the landscape.
Normally, I live in a remote village in Spain, where jobs are scarce (the region has 40% unemployment, and those who do have jobs are either tourism based and thus seasonal, family business or move to larger cities in the region). I moved there to escape city life, I’d had enough of 15 hour days, high-stress levels, manipulative managers, internal politics and the increasing cost of living. At the end of the day, I often wondered, what am I doing all this for?
Between living in London and moving to Spain, I returned home to Sydney, where I spent six months working for a training agency streamlining their systems and processes, at the end of that contract I was ready to travel again. I renegotiated my role to become a content writer for them, thus creating a digital nomad role for myself. I proceeded to travel for the following year working remotely. In Spain, other options presented themselves, coaching and training online, teaching English VoIP, editing and writing.
Essentially, being a digital nomad is working from somewhere other than an office within structured office hours.
Is there a future for digital nomadism?
By the year 2035, it has been predicted that there will be 1 billion digital nomads world-wide. Why? Because we’re swapping corporate structure for flexibility, independence to work within our own life structure – whether that’s kids, gym class timetables or our partners, doesn’t matter. Plus, employers are admitting that finding local talent isn’t always possible. Large companies such as Dell are aiming to have 50% of their 140,000 employees location independent by 2020, acknowledging that remote workers reduce their real estate, and environmental footprint (imagine how many extra commuters are off the road at peak hour).
Research has found that productivity increases when we’re given the freedom to create our own schedule – not everyone is productive between 9-5. Flexibility also allows people to develop their own passion projects, cultivate further knowledge and their ideal working conditions. Gallup’s report, State of the American Workplace illustrated that more employees in the United States were working remotely and reported to feeling more engaged at work, especially those who spent 3 or more days out of the traditional office environment. Basically, when people opt to work remotely, it’s beneficial for business profits, the planet, and people.
What career options are there?
Where does that leave you? With options. The digital nomad lifestyle is achievable and if you manage it well and set up clear boundaries between your work and home life, you’re in for an excellent change in your work lifestyle.
Need some ideas of what you might be able to do or consider doing:
- Counselling, Coaching, Training
- Web-Based Technologies
- Digital Marketing
- Editing, Journalism, Writing
- Information Technology
- Accounting and Finance
- Administration / Virtual Assistant
- Teaching and Education
- Sports, Fitness, and Wellness
- Food and Nutrition
There are plenty of resources and areas in which digital nomads are in demand. You just need to decide how you’re going to make the digital nomad lifestyle work for you.