Digital Nomads Now a Reality

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

July 7, 2023

A digital nomad is one who is not bound to a particular work location, instead electing to work at a location of their preference. Their lifestyle often consists of traveling to places they have yearned to see, while also developing their professional careers. They most often work in cafes or coworking spaces, relying on the internet and their own electronic devices.

There are also several myths attached to being a digital nomad. Some of the most common myths are that it is a never-ending vacation, while many think that digital nomads are carefree workers with few worries to their name. On the other hand, some also feel that living a digitally nomadic life can be very lonely and directionless.

It’s true that digital nomads get to see new places and are constantly on the road, but remote work is much like working in an office every day. You will need to complete tasks just like everyone else and work anywhere between 30 to 40 hours a week.

Digital nomads also have their fair share of challenges. They have to pay for food and accommodation and figure out taxes, as well as travel insurance while travelling. And although digital nomads are mostly thought of as lone wanderers, that may not always be the case. Moving frequently can actually help them forge meaningful connections with other people. It also helps instill in them an appreciation of other cultures and beliefs. 

Reasons to Become Digital Nomads

There are several reasons for pursuing the life of a digital nomad. The desire for better work-life balance, the freedom to travel, or even an innate desire to explore other cultures. A recent statistic reveals that there are now 35 million digital nomads worldwide, with the US making up the largest, i.e., about 51% of the overall global share. 

There is also a widely held belief that the lifestyle of a digital nomad is best suited to single people with no family obligations. But raising a family and choosing to be a digital nomad need not be mutually exclusive, though it can indeed be challenging. Nevertheless, one can choose to pack up and hit the road with their children. Children of digital nomad parents get more opportunities to learn about new cultures and see the world from a different perspective, a unique value proposition that can well benefit them in the long run.

Amid the pandemic, more workers found themselves yearning for greater meaning and fulfillment in their careers. The resulting lockdown—and even the COVID-19 crisis itself—have led many to rethink the purpose of their lives, driving them to reconsider their lifestyle to make it more sustainable. 

As a result, many employees prefer working in a remote or hybrid setting. Quite simply, hybrid work is here to stay. “Working remotely often offers a greater level of accessibility and work/life balance, while in-person collaboration fosters connection, creativity and innovation,” says Sue Cicco, head of human resources and employee experience for MassMutual.

Moving ahead, providing a flexible work environment will be imperative for businesses to attract and maintain the desired talent. It also benefits the employer as money spent on office upkeep and rent is saved. David Roberson, president of RoseRyan, a ZRG company said, “I work very closely with staff who are in different time zones, and as long as I’m able to reach them, and we can meet occasionally at the same time and they get the job done, it doesn’t matter where they are located.”

Emerging technologies and software within reach of employees are now more advanced than ever before. This has enabled them to pivot comfortably towards living a digitally nomadic lifestyle. The presence of high-performing laptops with better battery life means that digital nomads have fewer things to worry about when working from different locations. Expanded storage, secure and advanced hard drives, and the cloud have also freed nomads, enabling them to travel lighter and back up all their work.

Future of Work Being Rewritten

It is likely that more workers will transform themselves into digital nomads, especially as firms open themselves to the possibility of managing remote human resources. Already, a fair number of countries are embracing the role of digital nomads in the growth of their economy, offering digital nomad visas for those who earn a sustainable income from their remote positions. 

The post-pandemic shift in work culture, the desire for better work-life balance in an increasingly connected and accessible world, as well as advancements in technology are all rewriting the future of work. Employers and governments will need to take a holistic view in developing robust approaches and providing platforms and opportunities for digital nomads, so that they can further their careers while contributing meaningfully to the global economy.

Photo Caption: A remote worker somewhere in Spain.