The continued disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, means that adjustments have had to be made by most of us, both at work and at home. We are becoming accustomed to the new norms we all must abide with. Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 new realities have forced many employees to question their own work/life balance. Many are now seeking a move away from work which requires their daily presence within the traditional office or varied office locations to a more remote working arrangement. They are joining the growing numbers of Digital Nomads. These are remote workers who prior to COVID, would travel to different locations to work relying on devices with internet connectivity to be able to do their work and earn a living. This is a trend that has been gaining traction for a number of years worldwide. A survey carried out by the New York Times in 2017 concluded that 43% of employed Americans have spent some time working remotely during their careers. This represented a 4% increase when a similar survey was conducted in 2012. This clearly shows an upward trend in people preferring flexibility as part of their work routine, and with an increasing culture shift from the office to remote work.
As technology, particularly communications systems and infrastructures, become ever more pervasive and powerful, to many industries and sectors, the growth of a digital nomad workforce could well be the way forward for accelerated growth. The importance of having job security and the stability of an employment structure is paramount to many employees. We are witnessing many large international firms retaining the employment relationship but introducing the Digital Nomad framework. Firms such as Google, Microsoft, and many firms in the financial and consulting sectors to name but a few, are now offering many of their employees the option to remain full-time employees, to work remotely rather than from the office location/s.
Four key benefits for the increase in numbers that become Digital Nomads are identified below:-
- Being Part of a global community
Some digital nomads have sought the path of greater independence and have become freelancers. In this context, they are not employed by any particular firm or organisation but offer their services on an ad hoc basis, very much the essence of the gig-economy. There are hundreds of websites and forums on the internet that cater for digital nomads that operate as freelancers. Websites such as www.Fiverr.com or www.upwork.com make it easier for digital nomads to be a part of a community, build a network, and essentially, get paid work in order to sustain a living. These websites, and this community, allows people to hone their specified skills and cater for jobs that may not necessarily be within the same geographical region. These are particularly useful to those digital nomads who opt for freelancing as their model.
2.Eliminate Stressful commutes
One of the worst time wasters for any job is the daily commute, travelling to and from work. Depending in which country and city you live in, this time can vary drastically from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours, both ways! Often, the time involved is not because of the distance but because of the transportation issues, be it bus, train, or ferry schedules, or traffic. As a digital nomad, this burden is eliminated as one can work from the comfort of their own house without having to commute to the office location/s. According to various studies, commuting can be a serious drain on personal well-being. It cuts into time that could be could spent engaged in healthy activities, aggravates feelings of social isolation, and increases psychological stress.
Avoiding the daily commute reduces the costs of travel and frees up valuable time which can be used productively or for the pursuit of personal interests. To many, elimination of the daily commute means that they have more time to spend with family and friends.
A new catchphrase for a very smart way of working and saving expenses is Geoarbitrage. LetsReachSuccess defines it as “relocating in order to take advantage of the lower costs of a city/country.” What this means is essentially, given that restrictions are eased and travelling is made somewhat more accessible, is that one is able to have a better overall quality of life as they move to a cheaper location to live. The argument here is that if for instance, salary remaining constant, you would be able to get a much better place in Bari, Italy or Glasgow Scotland, rather than Milan or London. Being a digital nomad allows one to take advantage of price differences between the different locations.
COVID-19 has already seen a growth in geoarbitrage in the US where job mobility is already relatively higher than in Europe. However, indications are already available that show the growth of this trend in Europe, at many levels, local – from city to suburbs, regional – from one region to another within the same country, and international – from one member state to another, particularly in towns close to the borders.
4. Personal Growth
A digital nomad’s lifestyle provides new opportunities for personal growth and independence. It calls for resilience and self-confidence in being able to adapt to changing situations and challenges. Travelling to work from new locations can push many out of their traditional comfort zone. This includes coping with a variety of issues such as: language barriers, navigating transport systems or cultural differences. These can all serve as opportunities for personal growth. Studies also show that when travelling, this helps train your brain to better handle the change that it entails.
Digital Nomads have opportunities for personal growth even when they are not travelling to take advantage of geoartbitrage, or simply their desire to travel and get to know different cultures. Operating remotely calls for a greater degree of self-discipline and time management to ensure that “work” and “personal” time bands are set and respected. It is this balance that provides a greater work-life balance to the digital nomad. Not having to go to work, could mean that you start off early in the morning and complete your work time with relatively few interruptions. Alternatively, it could be a late morning start, long lunch break, siesta and working until late struggling to meet with schedules for deliverables. As a digital nomad, the focus is increasingly on the quality of the deliverables rather the time of when these are developed and implemented.
eBusiness Systems has platforms that help facilitate this transition into remote working. Our modular web-based business management platform allows for different functionalities such as time sheets and task planners to effectively work outside the office environment in an efficient and streamlined way. It allows for tracking of physical tasks and activities online facilitating remote management control. Contact us now to see how we can help your transition to a Digital Nomad!