The Future of Being a Digital Nomad

In 2010 I was 24 years old. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew that I wanted to be able to travel as much as possible. I built a career as an entrepreneur so that I would be able to work from anywhere. I was inspired by the idea of being a “digital nomad” — a term I had seen on a few thrilling blogs written by travelers on laptops in the jungles of Bali or the hostels of Bolivia.

Over the last seven years I have swum with sea turtles in Sri Lanka, watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat, listened to the roar of Iguazu Falls, taken a road trip on Australia’s Great Ocean Road, partied in New Orleans, posed with llamas at Machu Picchu and so much more. The countless adventures I have had have been thanks to the fact that I can get my work done on my laptop from anywhere.

I’m not the only one — all around the world there are people working remotely and the numbers are growing. So what does this mean for the future? What will being a remote worker, aka. “Digital nomad” be like years from now? Let’s take a look into the future of being a digital nomad.

Digital Nomadism Starting to Become More Mainstream

When I first started down this career path 6 years ago most people thought the concept of what I was doing was very strange and unfamiliar. These days when I explain what I do many people have heard of it, know someone who does it or even have considered doing it themselves. The fact that I have to explain it a lot less to people I meet seems to indicate that digital nomadism is becoming more mainstream.

As a result, people are starting to trust remote workers more. Hiring someone around the world whom you have never met seems more commonplace, whereas years ago many people would have been skeptical.

I believe that as remote working becomes even more “normal” — more companies will be open to hiring a freelancer working from another country. It will become generally understood that physical proximity is not a limiting factor to whether or not a freelancer can do a great job on a project.

Companies may start to choose their teams based on skills and experience, rather than being limited to choosing workers who live in a particular area. This changes the typical recruitment search — a lot.

What Will the Future Bring?

Digital Nomads Will No Longer Be Alone

More and more jobs are switching away from the office and encouraging working remotely. This article claims that there will be one billion digital nomads by 2035. While that seems like quite an incredible amount, there’s no denying that the trend towards remote working will continue.

Many brick and mortar businesses are realizing that remote work is much more effective, economical and productive. This means that digital nomads are no longer lone wolves going against the grain — they are becoming part of a major remote working movement.

But There Will Be More Competition

Of course, with more digital nomads out there it’s more of a challenge to stand out. There are so many blogs and freelancers out there — so what do you have to offer that puts you above the rest? In the future it will be even more important than ever to focus on unique selling proposition.

Technology Will Continue to Make it Easier

In the last six years of working remotely, I have noticed that there are more and more apps and services that have been designed to make the life of a nomad worker easier. I’ve used project management apps such as Asana and Trello to communicate with others when working on group projects and to organise my own projects. Paypal has become even easier to use, which has made it so much simpler to receive payments from clients all over the world.

Skype has improved in speed and picture quality, allowing me to have voice and even video conversations with clients no matter where I am in the world. I use Evernote to make notes on my phone during my travels so that I can quickly access those notes online when writing a blog post. Google Docs has become so slick and easy to use that I prefer it over Microsoft Word for when I write — especially since I can access articles I am working on from any computer simply by logging into my account.

These are just a few examples of the apps out there that are useful for freelance remote workers — there are way more than I could possibly list here. Here is a great list of apps and websites that digital nomads might find useful. Whether you are looking to make invoicing simpler, concentrate better, organize your emails or create a smarter to-do list, there is an app or a website out there to help you.

I predict that even more of these apps and services will be developed, as the need is there. (Of course, as with anything, it’s not only the tool itself — but how you use it.)

When it comes to hardware, laptops are more portable than ever and there are other gadgets that make this lifestyle easier. I use a Wifi extender if I get a hotel room that is too far away from the router and this portable USB charger to keep my phone battery full on long trips so I never miss a message from a client.

Also, Wifi is improving. I remember when it was hard to find good wifi in places like Southeast Asia, it’s much better now. I am sure that this will only improve, as accommodations know that fast wifi is a huge priority for guests. Also, as the wifi technology itself continues to improve and become more affordable, there really is no excuse anymore for a lack of wifi.

Accommodations Will Start to Adapt

As the workplace starts to shift even more towards remote work, this will bring more and more workspaces and accommodations that are set up for the needs of digital nomads — such as co-working hostels, co-living homes, co-working temporary office spaces, cafes designed for remote workers and much more.

Many cafes and accommodations will realize that having fast wifi, a quiet workspace and other digital nomad friendly features will increase their ratings and bring in more remote working visitors. Essentially, if you run a business such as a hotel, a cafe or an AirBnB rental, you are doing yourself a disservice these days by not offering fast wifi and other facilities that your guests need to get their work done.

Are You Ready for the Future?

Of course, these are just predictions and no one really knows what the future will bring or how the economy will shift. Fortunately, one of the main traits of a digital nomad is adaptability in the face of change — so I’m confident we will be able to creatively adjust to anything the future throws at us and continue to craft our lifestyles with our own hands.

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I hope you enjoyed this article. I’ll make sure to write another one with some of my tips and tricks to lead the optimal digital nomad lifestyle and the perfect way to get started.

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Keep Nomading,

I’m a co-founder at Candy Banners, a digital advertising studio and Stinson Design, the leading presentation consultants in North America. Previously founder of social game Predico and on the board of ad tech company Viewor.
Follow my adventures on Instagram @timgrassin