Are Digital Nomads The Future of Work?

Digital nomads were a well-cemented workforce group, before the world changed in February 2020 (thanks COVID).

These are the workers who, thanks to new market demands, new technology and the need for new skills, have decided to leave the office behind. They’re working in any field or industry where remote working can be achieved, via the internet. And often they do this while travelling. It’s a (not so) new lifestyle du jour.

The freedom of selecting jobs, locations, hours and pay – on your own terms – is incredibly enticing. No more corporate restrictions (within limitations of their client’s needs), no more dress code (within limitations of Zoom meetings) and no more 9-5. What’s not to love?

Digital nomads are the future of work. And it appears the future of work is now.

Today, we’ve looked at these workers in across multiple contexts. Because digital nomads are likely – if not already – working in your business or will be in 2022.

These are people who embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work anywhere in the internet-connected world.

HBR

 

What Do Digital Nomads Do?

The most common categories of work for digital nomads are:

Marketing

  • Building websites
  • Testing websites
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Social media management
  • Blogging

Operations

  • Virtual assistant
  • Data entry
  • Transcribing

how to prepare for the future of work

Creative

  • Illustrating
  • Graphic design
  • Copywriting

Other

  • Tour guide
  • Teaching languages
  • Website tester
  • Cryptocurrency trading
  • E-Commerce business
  • Voice acting (voiceovers voice ads)
  • Video production and editing
  • Translating
  • Programming

How are Digital Nomads Managed?

According to Harvard Business Review, you need a company policy for digital nomads. Makes great sense.

To get the most out of this cohort of workers:

  • Your culture and values are a great determinant as to whether these workers are right for your business. Make these top-of-mind when you’re undertaking the selection process
  • Let them interview you, to see if they’re a good fit for your business
  • Provide a thorough onboarding, especially around your employer brand and the expectations of the business
  • Set a regular plan for meetings and catchups. It can be hard to know if these workers are over-stretched or over-stressed, when you’re not in the same building (or country). And keep in mind – you may have to shift your management style somewhat
  • Making them feel included. Involvement in team meetings, in group chats on WhatsApp and emails gives them a greater sense of attachment to your business and your mission
  • Set expectations and put it in writing. A clear pathway to success for their role, documented and revisited regularly, will keep you both on the same page
  • Use a project management or work tracking tool like Trello, Slack or Monday. Version control, time-management and a single-source of truth for project progress is crucial for these workers

how to prepare for the future of work

How Are Digital Nomads Different from Remote Workers?

Not to get too picky about it, but digital nomads are a subset of remote workers.

The main differences are:

  • Not all remote workers seek a different scene or location. Digital nomads typically like the ability to travel and work from anywhere wifi is available
  • Remote workers are sometimes required to work in the office
  • Working 9-5 is not typically their preferred work schedule
  • Digital nomads like the concept of exploration, being challenged outside of work, and independence
  • Often digital nomads don’t have a permanent home
  • Remote workers are found across all age categories and most job types. Digital nomads are typically young people

 

The lifestyle of the digital nomad isn’t for everyone. But the data out of the US and Australia shows it’s an increasingly popular one. Accepting that this corner of the workforce will likely be involved in your business is important. And embracing these workers, and the many benefits they can offer your business – both commercially, socially and from a skills standpoint – will align your business to the future of work.

If you would like to discuss digital nomads and how they may work for your organisation, you can reach me here. I look forward to speaking with you.

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