Digital Nomads In A Post-Covid World
Digital nomadism is on the rise. After a 50% spike in the number of digital nomads between April and August 2020 (i.e. the height of the Covid 19 Pandemic), we have to recognize this isn't going away soon. People aren't just saying goodbye to the office for now - they're leaving for good.
Gen Z is now rejecting the traditional workplace. A central workspace forces people to either a) live in the city or b) close enough to commute. But remote work is allowing people to move to the suburbs or leave completely - travel the world, work when you want, and escape the rat race. It's no longer a choice between travel and work - it's now the search for a new lifestyle.
Digital Nomads and Remote Work - What's the Difference?
To understand the rise in digital nomads, we need to understand what digital nomads are.
Who is a Remote Worker?
All digital nomads are remote workers, but not every worker outside of an office is a digital nomad.
A remote worker is anyone who works remotely (i.e. not in one centralized area). With Covid-19 forcing traditional workers to become telecommuters overnight. The pandemic has caused a digital transformation, including innovative cloud computing and SaaS tools that have become necessary for successful business operations.
Who is a Digital Nomad?
Digital nomads are people who travel around the world and take their work with them. They use telecommunication technologies to perform work and have no singular home base. Although they may be tied to one company, generally, nomadic workers tend to be freelancers or business owners in their own right.
Digital Nomadism in Numbers
The growth in the number of digital nomads can't be denied. Statistics prove a rapid increase in the numbers of people working remotely and it does look like they will disappear any time soon.
The Digital Nomad in 2019
In 2019, 7.3 million Americans were choosing the nomadic life, says research from MBO Partners. This included full-time digital nomads as well as others who adopted the lifestyle part-time - "workcations" and working sabbaticals that lasted from between several weeks to many months.
There were also 3.2 million "traditional job holders" working from home or abroad at this time. These positions were generally for management and often offered as a perk, not the norm.
The Digital Nomad in 2020
MBO Partners has stated that there was an almost 50% growth of digital nomads. Covid-19 either allowed people to work remotely or forced people to find new ways to make money.
10.9 million Americans were now choosing to go nomadic. 6.3 million traditional job holders had become remote. The post-pandemic work environment is going to look very different.
Are We Living in The Age of the Digital Nomad?
As more opportunities appear for remote work, people are leaving the traditional work hub. People are choosing a healthy work-life balance, cutting the commute from hours to a walk downstairs. There is a potential for an exodus from the cities as people want to live somewhere cheaper, healthier, and with less stress.
Young people don't want to be constrained to office work anymore. Gen Z-ers now make up 62% of the digital nomad workforce. And why? For a greater quality of life, a more independent life, and for the chance to work at some of the most beautiful locations across the globe.
The Growth Of The Digital Workplace
The "digital workplace" is a bit of a buzzword right now. We've been able to create remote jobs since the 1980s, but Covid-19 forced managers to innovate.
Overnight, people working remotely became a hot commodity for the rustic countryside and island communities - as work moved to the cloud, there was no reason that traditionally less industrialized areas couldn't attract big business and highly skilled professionals.
Fully distributed workplaces create opportunities for outsourcing. People no longer have to live in the city or even near their place of work - it's all out there in the cloud.
A Lifeline For the Laid-Off
Although some digital nomads turned to online work as a way of improving their quality of life, some were forced to offer their talent due to companies rolling out redundancies and the pandemic causing global lockdowns.
Now that people see that they can work from home and rely on technology, why would employees want to return to the traditional workplace? The future for people who work remotely could hold hybrid work schedules, a greater number of independent contractors, and almost every industry looking to find distributed professionals looking for work.
What Can Remote Workers Expect In The Future?
In the post-Covid 19 worlds, remote work won't just be something offered by gracious employers. A chance to stay outside of the office and work on your terms is now in people's hands. People are waking up to that fact - they're ready to embrace it too.
More Money In A Different Location
Unlike travelers going from county to country, digital nomads tend to stay in the same place. As these comparatively high earners from the marketing, technology, or even real estate industries start to pay into the local community. Small freelancer communities are starting to crop up all around the world and the locals are recognizing the benefits.
Remote working allows for a greater distribution of wealth. Long-term digital workers can afford to live with a higher standard of living and give back to the community that they call home. That's why countries are now competing for these independent contractors and small business owners.
E-countries Are On The Map
With the workforce moving outside of the centralized hub, some countries are ready to try and attract talent and business to their shores. Whereas nomad hotspots like Azerbaijan, Georgia, Costa Rica, and the Madeira Islands are improving what they can offer, Estonia is the first country with an e-residency VISA.
Professionals with viable skills will be able to take advantage of online opportunities while living in attractive locations. The cost of travel becomes negligible as smaller countries attract digital nomads away from powerhouse cities thanks to easy-to-acquire VISAs, a cheaper cost of living, and all the financial and personal benefits of living away from the hustle and bustle.
Digital Nomadism - Here To Stay?
We can see from MBO Partners' research that the demand for nomadic work is growing. More people are ready to leave the workplace of yesterday and start their journeys into the professional landscape of tomorrow. With the growth in SaaS and cloud computing tools, this trend will naturally extend to all employees who work with computers daily.
The benefits of a nomadic workforce aren't just for potential employees either. Companies can capitalize on the ease of access to in-demand skills and services at the click of a button. Location is no longer a limiting factor - as nomads make themselves available when they are needed, companies will find the exact skills they need exactly when they need them. Nomads are bringing about a huge change in the way we operate businesses.
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