Remote live-work is a primary economic force. Here’s why you should consider it.
In early 2020, workers packed up their laptops, notes, pens, and folders, shoved them into backpacks, and walked out of offices fully expecting to be back in a week or two. Eight months later, many are still out-of-the-office, beginning to assimilate to the new work-from-home normal. While a home may have its familiarity and many comforts, our brains are wired for stimulation and need rich new experiences to stay engaged. If you have been staring longingly at your desktop wallpaper and are ready to throw everything in the car and hit the road for the unknown, it may be time to seriously consider adopting a digital nomad lifestyle.
What is a digital nomad?
A “digital nomad” is someone who uses technology and telecommunications to aid in their ability to earn a living while working remotely from foreign countries and any locale with a WiFi signal. With so much variability, a digital nomad life endeavor is what you choose to make it — offering a literal world of possibilities whether you want to road-trip to a neighboring state or fly across the ocean. It is not as crazy as you think, in fact, remote work trends are on the rise, and our lives and economic standings will be all the better for it. Intrigued? Read on.
According to Nicholas Bloom, a William D. Eberle Professor of Economics in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), the new remote work trends will last beyond the pandemic and have been crucial in propping up the economy in the interim. “By sheer numbers, the U.S. is a working-from-home economy. Almost twice as many employees are working from home at work,” said Bloom. “More strikingly, if we consider the contribution to U.S. gross domestic product based on their earnings, this enlarged group of work-from-home employees now accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.”
If you are already jotting down the pros and cons on a sheet of paper, consider the following:
- 1 in 3 workers are now freelancing in the gig economy, and that number is steadily increasing with lay-offs and the workforce disruption caused by the pandemic.
- Almost 30% of remote work companies are founded by or have a female CEO. Adopting a digital nomad lifestyle helps close the gender wage gap and gives many women entrepreneurs a competitive edge.
- Productivity increases. Seriously, remote workers are 13% more productive than their office counterparts, which goes to show how a change of scenery can catalyze brilliance.
- With more scheduling flexibility, digital nomads are able to achieve greater “work-life balance” with more of the day spent seeking out fulfilling experiences.
- Life is more eco-friendly and less costly. With no commute, child care costs, lunch take-out, and all of the things we’ve been willing to take on to work in the same office building 40+ hours a week, it’s amazing to find how free and flush with cash you can be by going remote.
- There is no more waiting for rewards and retirement to enjoy the beauty of this earth. Mindful presence and connectivity are available to you now.
Making the leap to becoming a digital nomad
With so many compelling benefits, the life of a digital nomad is available to both single workers and families alike. And there is a cacophony of possibilities to make it customizable for every situation. Here are five key things to consider when planning your next steps:
- Get clear on your “why.” Ask yourself, what do you hope to gain from this experience? What are your primary driving forces? No matter what the answer, it is important to use it as a catalyst in your vision and methodology. Keeping your goals for work-tourism in-mind will help you direct your decisions and planning with consistency and focus. It is easy to lose sight of the long-term vision, so be clear and keep hold of your “why.”
- Think like a CIO. Establish a framework for your work plan and consider every bit of technology you will need from phones and phone plans to WiFi and hotspots. Next, consider how you plan to carry out your work in a highly secure online environment. Collaboration tools and platform technologies will enable you to better stay-in-touch with coworkers and your creative community.
- Consider costs and budget. Establish a conservative budget to get an idea of what is logistically affordable and where costs can be saved. The more time you put into this planning exercise, the better. Evaluate what is sustainable and what is the contingency plan, in case of emergencies.
- Speaking of emergencies… We are not robots and sometimes bad stuff happens, even when you’re in paradise. So ensuring you have healthcare or a plan for healthcare while remote-working is critical. What is your worst-case scenario? Now build an emergency response plan to address it. This will help you feel more prepared as you embark on your travels.
- Establish a home base. Yes, home is where you make it but a base is necessary when life is lived on the road. A home base can provide you with a stable place to regroup whether it’s a friend’s or relative’s couch or a house/apartment/condo/you-name-it. Having a place to center adds to your preparedness plan.
There has never been a better time to explore a nomadic existence. A post-pandemic world will surely be changed and as old structures of the workforce shift, it is interesting to consider what is possible as we all pursue our individual paths of discovery and wonder while using the digital tools of the times to connect and collaborate. Are you ready to adopt to the digital normal life?