What exactly is a digital nomad?
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Remote work. Work from home. Work remotely. To me, all of these translate to the term Digital Nomad. It’s just an extra step by adding travel into the mix. “Wait, Justin from broadn. What the hell is a digital nomad?”, you ask. Great question, anonymous person on the internet. It’s certainly the hot topic nowadays with the pandemic running its course. In a nutshell, a digital nomad is someone who works remotely, all while traveling on a consistent basis.
A lot of companies are making the decision to allow their employees to work from home. Small businesses to big tech are all making the necessary decision to take the “office” reins off of their workers. While I personally think that employers could have embraced this movement long ago, better now than never!
The idea of needing to be in the office is, hopefully, a thing of the past. Why pay for an office, attached to an expensive monthly lease when a laptop, outlet, WiFi, and Zoom will work just perfectly. If you can accomplish your work goals, still have contact with your colleagues, supervisors, and clients, then location independence could make perfect sense (with a few lifestyle adjustments, of course).
Even before COVID-19, a rising number of people were taking remote work a step further by seeking to take advantage of the flexibility to move around. These are the appropriately named “digital nomads”. They hop from one country to the next, always experiencing something culturally new and different, and continuously pushing their boundaries. The stability will be missing but the trade-off - getting to travel, have new experiences in foreign destinations and meet new people - is what makes it worth it. Collaboration and communication tools like Slack, Trello, and Zoom still exist to collaborate with colleagues. Plus coworking spaces, cafes, bars, tours, dating apps (yes - those, too!) are all there to take advantage of and meet people when you need human interaction.
The digital nomad movement has become more popular over the years but has never quite taken off the way it should. Employers have struggled over the years with letting their employees work remotely. Generally speaking, it’s always been a “warm body in an office seat” type mentality where the thought process was if you’re not present during the standard 9 - 5, you’re seen as not being productive, or not getting your work done.
We all know, this isn’t necessarily true. With the rise of jobs that can be done remotely with just a laptop and the meteoric rise in remote-enhancing tools like Slack and Zoom, whether you’re working for a company, large or small or even as a freelancer, people are realizing that their role or their job can be done from anywhere. In fact, we think you’ll see a boost in productivity. Think about it - minimal distractions away from chatty colleagues, office noise plus no commute equals getting things done. Factor in changes of scenery and we think that this is the best recipe for remote work success.
This tweet from remote advocate and founder of Firstbase, Chris Herd, says it best. You can work anytime, anywhere. You can gain back lost hours and focus on the things you want to do outside of work. This includes travel.
Who could argue with that? Whether you’re working from a countryside farmhouse in the US, a cafe in Penang, Malaysia or from the beach in Hvar, Croatia, if you have access to your computer, to relatively-fast WiFi and can accommodate timezones for online meetings and typical office hours (within reason), there should be no need to stress about trying to convince your boss that this is a good option. In fact, they should be more concerned about your overall happiness as a remote worker.
To us here at broadn, we think it’s a win-win. Businesses can save money on office space, and other budget-depleting items. Employees get the freedom of reducing their commute times and getting to choose where they live and work. Whether that’s setting up a residence in one place or floating around, taking advantage of Airbnb and coliving situations. Grabbing an apartment in a cheaper city than where headquarters is set up could make sense for you or just giving up your permanent apartment, living as frugally as possible while hopping countries might be the ticket.
Certainly, the costs of remote work don’t outweigh the benefits here. Remote work is the way to go. The flexibility to work wherever can’t be understated. Of course, sometimes you’ll miss the interaction and collaboration that you get when in an office. You miss the free coffee, team outings, and other perks of being in the office. But you’ll get to show your boss that as long as you’re getting your work done, meet deadlines and you can show positive results and are still able to collaborate with teammates and interact with clients as need be, this lifestyle endeavor is possible and is optimal.
Sure, sometimes you’ll need to stay up late or wake up early to have a meeting. Adjusting to time zones is tough but we prefer to see it as a bit of a give and take (we use World Time Buddy to track time zones for meetings, by the way). Just grab a much-needed flat-white from one of your local cafes and you'll be good to go. Not being locked into one location and having the freedom to explore in your downtime is worth the effort and adjustment.
We acknowledge this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. It can be exhausting sometimes. Not knowing people to constantly having to pack up and move to a different place has the potential to weigh you down. To us, the trick is to pretend like you’re living in whatever destination you’re in. So whether you have a full-time remote job or you’re freelancing, you try to live like you normally would back in your hometown. Remember, it’s not a true vacation, but rather adopting a whole lifestyle. Between working, going out to eat, hitting all the nightlife spots, getting some exercise or doing yoga, relaxing with your laptop or a good book at a cafe, or just going out for a walk and exploring. All of this requires balance and mindfulness about how you're spending your time and energy.
Quality of life is key and with a remote job, you can be in constant pursuit. If you want to work from the beach in Puerto Escondido or a cafe in Paris, or a coworking spot in Osaka, you have the flexibility and the freedom.
If you’re looking to become a digital nomad and get a remote job, or have recently gone remote, and are looking to take advantage of your new-found freedom (when the world starts to open up again), reach out to us and we can chat about what and more importantly, where, would make sense for you.
Where would you travel to first as a digital nomad post-pandemic?