by Chris Nunn
Workplaces are enhanced when you bring together people from different parts of the world. I went into more depth on the topic in a previous post (check it out), but it got me thinking — what about those who want to abandon everything for travel AND still build a career?
It’s given rise to a new breed of digital nomads — workers who can work full time for a business based in London while working from a communal office in Bali or a beach hut in Thailand.
Step forward the Millennial answer to drifters — digital nomads. I caught up with a few of them to find out exactly how businesses benefit from their services, and how someone can explore the world whilst working.
Hold on, what exactly is a digital nomad, anyway?
For some, it’s your typical traveler. You know, the sort who lives in cheap hostels, wearing the same shirt five days in a row and doing odd jobs to get by, yet this isn’t always the case.
You’ve got the ability to visit loads of different countries, and really change things up while seeing the world.
Thanks to (generally) improved global internet speeds, more reliable connections and the digitization of workplaces, the definition of being a remote worker has somewhat blurred. In fact, it’s given rise to a new breed of digital nomads — workers who work full time for a business based in London, while working from a communal office in Bali or a beach hut in Thailand. Once the working day is over, they’re often found living it up in an Airbnb or co-living apartments.
In short, the digital nomad of 2018 is a professional, working via their laptop while travelling the globe and embracing new cultures.
…and what jobs do they do?
Like the name suggests, digital nomads primarily work in — yep, you guessed it — digital. According to the Digital Nomad Survey of 2015–16 (stay tuned for last year’s), the three most popular professions are:
- Developer & Programmer (19% of respondents)
- Marketer (9% of respondents)
- Designer (9% of respondents)
The survey also found that 36% of these nomads work freelance, while 23% are employees and another 21% are entrepreneurs. A staggering 59% of those surveyed work (either exclusively or freelance) for a company, all the while fulfilling their wanderlust dreams.
So, what do these digitally nomadic lifestyles involve?
Day-to-day happenings for digital nomads vary hugely. Hours of work are often intertwined with exploring destinations and soaking up local culture. To get a better understanding of this mix of work and wanderlust, I spoke to three techie nomads about their life on the road.
What does an average day look like?
Hannah Martin, a blogger who has been travelling the world for the past three years, says her average days involve working in the morning, followed by a spot of exploring in the afternoon.
They bring a fresh perspective to the table, feeding off their travels both creatively and in other aspects of their work.
Jordan Anthony Swain, an entrepreneur with clients across four continents, says that his days are completely atypical. They’ll usually entail calls to various time zones, back-to-back Skype and face-to-face meetings, followed by yet more digital meetings! Somewhat miraculously, he still finds the time to get out there and explore whatever country he’s calling home.
What is the biggest challenge faced when splitting work and exploring?
“Discipline — it can be difficult to force yourself to work when you’d rather be playing in the sunshine”, says Jess Shanahan, a freelance journalist and PR from Norfolk.
“For me, it’s the limitation of only 24 hours in a day”, says Jordan. “Especially when there’s so much to see, explore and discover!”
What do you enjoy most about the digital nomad lifestyle?
For Hannah and Jess, the answer is freedom. All in all, they both love uncovering new countries, and, naturally, making some money while doing so.
“You’ve got the ability to visit loads of different countries, and really change things up while seeing the world”, Hannah adds.
What advice would you give to someone thinking pursuing a similar route?
“Leave all preconceived notions of what travel, lifestyle and living means”, Jordan says. “The world is such a marvelous place, and it’s so powerful to witness its beauty and wonders. Trust your heart and let the world navigate you.”
Jess, on the other hand, keeps it short and sweet. “Enjoy it”, she says. “Oh, and never see working while you’re travelling as a burden, because ultimately, it’s what powers your lifestyle.”
How can companies benefit from digital nomads?
For a start, they can gain an insight into alternative cultures and ways of living. Digital nomads thrive off these worldly experiences. They bring a fresh perspective to the table, feeding off their travels both creatively and in other aspects of their work.
On top of that, it helps companies retain motivated workers! Hannah, Jess and Jordan’s insights show that the option to travel and learn is fantastic motivation for doing a little hard graft. Hey, maybe this explains why 29% of respondents to the Digital Nomad Survey say they clock in between 40 and 60 hours each and every week — work is what funds their lifestyles, after all!
Now, that’s not to say that non-digital nomads are lacking in motivation — far from it. But when a few hours of frantic typing are all that lies between you and a plane ticket to some exotic, far-flung land, working might just come that little bit easier.
Of course, this requires flexibility and collaboration from the employers themselves. Yet, like most things, such compromises can really work to reap in the rewards.
Here at Caliber, we use a collaborative approach both in the work we produce and our everyday ethos. Try it sometime — whether you’re a digital nomad yourself or an everyday desk warrior — and see where it gets you.