8 Reasons to Become a Digital Nomad
The benefits of ditching the office for a remote job
The working trend goes by several names, as do the people who take part in it: they’re known as digital nomads, telecommuters, and, perhaps most popularly, remote workers.
The concept, however, remains the same across the board: with the huge strides in technology we’ve seen in the last couple decades, there is no longer a need for a physical office building. This leaves employees free to work whenever, however, and from wherever they’d like.
The result? A “remote revolution” that includes workers spread throughout the world, collaborating from different time zones and operating with increased freedom.
With perks like the eight benefits we’ll look at here, it’s no surprise the work-from-anywhere trend is growing so quickly in popularity.
1. You want to live and work anywhere
One unfortunate side effect of being employed at a company that doesn’t allow its staff to work remotely is that housing options become severely limited.
Employees who have a job that requires them to come into the office on a daily basis feel locked into a particular location or region. Their two options are: a) live close to the workplace, or b) face the soul-sucking daily commute to work.
Employees whose companies are based in locations with a high cost of living, such as San Francisco or New York, have an especially difficult time, and those that are able to find housing close enough to work pay dearly for the space.
Remote workers, on the other hand, face no such problem. Because they rely on an internet connection and software as their “virtual office,” the possibilities for where they live and work are nearly endless.
Some worry about the social implications of such a transition: What will it be like to work from home and be alone for a good portion of the day? Will it be hard to collaborate with teammates, and will you miss the in-person interaction?
What digital nomads often find, though, is that teams can work quite well around different locations and timezones. It’s not easy: teammates must be extra proactive about good communication, even more so than their non-remote peers.
When walking over to a co-worker’s desk isn’t an option, team members have to work harder to reply to messages and stay on top of projects while also staying aware of when teammates are and aren’t available. Getting into the habit of replying quickly and consistently comes with the territory of using tools such as Slack, Skype, and email as your main forms of communication.
As for the social aspect, co-working spaces are a popular option for remote workers who like to have some company while they work. There are also communities and resources like Nomadbase, Nomad List, and Remote Year that help remote workers meet up and work together.
2. You’re looking for a less stressful work environment
Getting to choose your own workspace results in a quieter, less stressful environment than that of the typical office. A 2011 study from Staples Advantage concluded that remote workers experience as much as 25% less stress than their office-bound peers.
But less stress isn’t the only benefit of ditching the office. The study also revealed that 86% of workers surveyed were more productive working from a home office, while 80% agreed that working remotely enabled a better work-life balance.
Why the discrepancy between these two working models? If remote workers tend to be calmer, happier, and more productive, why might this be, especially given that working remotely presents its own unique challenges?
The answer could involve a number of factors, such as spending less time commuting and stuck in traffic, which comes with its own assortment of negative side effects. Another hypothesis is that more freedom and the flexibility to set your own schedule makes for happier, less stressed employees.
When employees can choose when they work and take breaks, they can customize and optimize their schedule around their own productivity patterns, rather than being forced into the 9-to-5 routine.
3. You want a healthier lifestyle
With a less stressful, more balanced routine, it should come as no surprise that remote workers also tend to be healthier overall.
A healthier mental state isn’t the only benefit. The Staples study cited earlier also found that 73% of respondents reported eating healthier when working from home. That’s most likely because working from home means more cooking from home—less rushing out to lunch to grab something fast but unhealthy, or warming up a frozen meal in the break room microwave.
Another facet of the healthier lifestyle of digital nomads is their opportunity to work a little more physical fitness into their daily schedules. It might be easy to write off going to the gym after a long day at the office, but when you have control over your schedule, you’ll be able to work out when you actually feel motivated to do it. You can do some yoga, take a run, or lift some weights whenever you’d like to take a break and rest your mind.
4. You want to send your productivity levels through the roof
Let’s face it: the office is perhaps one of the most distracting places you could possibly work. In fact, a TINYpulse survey reported that 91% of remote workers say they’re more productive when working away from the office.
Jason Fried and David Hansson wrote about this phenomenon in their book Remote: Office Not Required, in which they argue that, were you to ask anyone where their favorite place to work is, few will tell you it’s their office building. Offices are good environments for some work activities, but not for intense productivity. They are, however, pretty reliable for distractions and interruptions.
That’s not to say that remote workers have the perfect recipe for productivity, especially given that many work from home, where other potential distractions are just an arm’s reach away (family members / roommates / pets, chores, TV or Netflix, video games, etc).
Is there another solution? Many people find that a low hum of activity—somewhere between the constant noise of a busy office and the quiet of working at home alone—can help them focus. Research backs up this idea. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that moderate ambient noise increases performance on creative tasks.
So it turns out there’s a good reason you’ll find people with laptops taking up all the best seats in your favorite coffee shop—that kind of environment provides just the right amount of ambient noise to help them get in the flow.
5. You want to finally figure out this whole work-life balance thing
We get it, you’re a working machine (especially if you’re not working in the office)! But a balance between work and relaxation & recreation is essential for a healthy body and mind. For the remote and non-remote alike, maintaining that balance can be difficult.
For those who work in a typical office, the problem isn’t necessarily the amount of time spent working that makes it tricky to keep a good balance—at the end of the day, a 40-hour workweek is a 40-hour workweek.
It’s the transitions throughout the day that can be difficult to manage: the morning is technically spent at home, but it’s spent preparing for work. The next eight hours are devoted solely to work, sprinkled with a few breaks which you might also spend working. Finally, your are evenings are free to enjoy the “life” part of the dichotomy (depending on how much work you bring home with you, that is). This back-and-forth makes the life and work sections somewhat distinct, but “distinct” doesn’t always equal “better.”
You may think that having such clear-cut distinctions between home and work make a work-life balance more attainable. However, after transitioning from office-based work to working from home, more than 80% of remote workers say they are able to maintain a better work-life balance, according to the Staples survey.
Part of this is due (again) to the extreme flexibility that remote workers have. If you’d love to have Fridays off, you can work longer days Monday through Thursday. If you really need to make that Wednesday afternoon doctor’s appointment, no manager is having you fill out paperwork requesting time off for that one hour. You’re in complete control of your day-to-day schedule, as long as the work gets done, which makes that balance so much more fulfilling and easier to manage.
6. You can’t handle one more commute
If the sheer amount of time spent in the car (or bus or train or subway) doesn’t make you wish you worked from home, the gas prices surely do. The average commute is about 25 minutes one way, which comes out to about 200 hours every year. In other words, the average commuter spends more than a week out of the year just driving to work and back.
Not only is this a waste of time, but it’s a huge financial burden as well: the cost of fuel has its dips and peaks, but many people feel that the overall costs of getting to work and filling up are simply too high. In fact, according to Global Workplace Analytics, 92% of employees are concerned with the high cost of fuel, and 80% of them specifically cite the cost of commuting to work.
Expense and time aren’t the only negatives involved. Making a daily commute is linked to several health concerns, including high blood pressure and blood sugar, elevated bad cholesterol, and increased risk of depression and anxiety. A report from the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics also found that people who commute (for any amount of time or distance) experience lower life satisfaction and happiness than people who don’t have a commute.
7. You want to do your part to protect the environment
Several years ago, tech services company Sun Microsystems launched the Open Work Program, which allowed employees to work remotely. Sun documented the effects of the initiative and reported that its 24,000 U.S. employees participating in the program were helping the environment in big ways: by working from home, these digital nomads avoided producing 32,000 metric tons of CO2 by driving less often to and from work.
Businesses that use fewer resources because part or all of their workforce is remote also reap cost savings and other benefits—and those perks trickle down to their employees, too. According to Global Workplace Analytics, if all the U.S. workers with remote-compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time:
- The average business would save an estimated $11,000 per person, per year.
- Employees shifting to remote work would save between $2,000 and $7,000 per year.
- The environmental result (in greenhouse gas reduction) would be the equivalent of taking all of New York State’s workforce off the road—permanently.
8. You want your performance measured objectively
Perhaps one of the best parts of working remotely is that you are assessed solely based on the quality of work you deliver, rather than according to biases that often creep into hiring and management practices. Appearance, social dynamics, who you know in the office, and other things that aren’t relevant to your personal work performance don’t come into play nearly as much on a distributed team—with remote working, all those extra politics are removed.
Ready to jump on the digital nomad train?
Check out our selection of work-from-anywhere jobs. Crossover specializes in connecting top professionals with software development jobs, but we also have openings in product management, sales, marketing, and more. Visit our job board here: https://app.crossover.com/x/marketplace/available-jobs