Do you know anyone who is a digital nomad? If you don’t right now, chances are you will pretty soon. In fact, thanks to the novel coronavirus changing the way many businesses view remote work, there is a good likelihood that the number of digital nomads will increase exponentially. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is a Digital Nomad?
What is a digital nomad, anyway? Well, it’s someone who doesn’t live –or work – at a fixed address. Like nomadic sheepherders or itinerant peddlers of yore, today’s digital nomads are free to roam the globe. They might be a freelance IT worker or a remote marketing employee. As long as they have access to wifi, they can work. They have adopted the motto of “have laptop, will travel” and are seeing the world even as they earn a living.
Where Do Digital Nomads Go?
Anywhere they want, essentially! In this age of constant connectivity, there aren’t many barriers to location vis-a-vis employment. Call centers frequently need 24-hour coverage, so remote workers who are located on the other side of the globe from their employer are actually in luck.
Other positions don’t really require the employee to be “on call” during business hours. Bloggers, freelance artists or graphic designers, and others who work solely online have a lot more freedom than the typical 9-to-5 worker.
Where Do They Live?
Some of these nomads are traveling a country or continent by RV or other mobile accommodation. Others couch-surf, crash at hostels, or rely on a network of social media followers to help them find places to stay wherever they may be.
There are digital nomads who do have a home base to which they can return between jaunts. In many cases, it’s their parents’ house or the home of another close relative. Others are completely footloose and fancy free. They may travel light, keeping only the essentials, or they may rent out a storage unit somewhere to keep their belongings safe.
How Do They Get Hired? Collaborate with Coworkers?
No matter what obstacles you might imagine are put in front of digital nomads and the companies that hire them, there is a solution! Time differences don’t necessarily matter. Collaboration can happen over remote work software like intranet, project management platforms, and communication platforms. They might use a free screen recorder to illustrate how to perform an action on their computer, or utilize Diagrams.net to create website wireframes or make sense of brainstorming sessions.
As for getting hired, there are companies that require in-person interviews and training, or even a period of in-house employment before that worker can be eligible to telecommute.
In other instances, the entire process happens online, over telephone, videoconferencing, and other means. Everyone recruits on the internet these days, and more and more companies are interviewing, hiring, training, and managing that way too. You might even already have a video CV.
What Kind of People Are Digitally Nomadic?
By and large, it is younger employees – Millennials, to be specific. And that makes sense. After all, they have eschewed the traditions of their parents and grandparents, and are in many cases no longer interested in reaching milestones like landing a permanent job, buying a home, or starting a family.
Instead, they are pursuing their passions and seizing their days. Sometimes it is those very passions that they turn into a viable means of employment. Bloggers, social media managers, and influencers are a good example of people who do what they love and watch the money follow.
But other nomads find work that is just a job to them, one that allows them the income and freedom to do what they really want, whether that is creating art, working for global causes, or living lightly on the land.
It Sounds Great! How Do I Start?
Want to become a digital nomad? It’s an appealing lifestyle for many folks, that is for sure. Your best bet is to do some research — where else but online?
If you already have a job, look into the possibility of telecommuting. Your current gig not really conducive to travel? Look into some of the most common ways that nomads make a living, and figure out which might be the best one to try. Start sending out some applications right away, too.
There’s really no one way to pursue this path, so you are going to be making a lot of it up as you go along – but that is all part of the fun and the adventure!