As more kinds of work move online, more workers are becoming digital nomads.
Even those of us who love our jobs may occasionally find ourselves less than enthusiastic about heading into work on a beautiful day, or fantasizing about white sand beaches during a meeting. And the FOMO is real: digital nomads are all over social media, sharing photos of their laptop and a beer posted up before the backdrop of some exotic locale.
We can’t all be freelance digital marketers and web developers, free to roam the globe and work from wherever there is a wifi connection. But it may just be a matter of time before digital nomadism, or at least a lite-version of the lifestyle, is a possibility for professionals in almost any line of knowledge-based work.
The trend towards remote employment
While being confined to your office Monday-Friday, 9-to-5 was once the most typical scenario for white collar work, more employers nationwide are beginning to embrace flexible working arrangements in varying forms. This could mean letting employees work from home a few days a week, leave early to beat the rush hour and finish their work at home, or work offsite as often as is needed.
And the benefits are noticeable. Three quarters of employees who are granted flexible and remote working arrangements say that the policy improves their productivity and sense of job satisfaction.
Nearly half of U.S. based employees already work remotely on the regular in at least some capacity, and the number of regular work-at-home employees has increased 140 percent since 2005. All signs point to this trend continuing in the coming decade.
But flexible working arrangements aren’t only on the rise for digital-based positions and start-up employees. They’re also becoming increasingly common among small businesses. An estimated 77 percent of people employed in small businesses enjoy flexible and remote work opportunities.
Between the rise of “there’s an app for that” business models, the gig economy, and influencer marketing, digital communication is fueling location-independent work the world over. With this change, remote work is steadily losing its status as a privilege and becoming a standard working arrangement for a wide variety of careers in a wider variety of industries.
Digital nomadism: the future of work?
Some 4.8 million Americans self-describe as digital nomads, and another 17 million aspire to this identity. Embraced as a way to work while seeing the world, digital nomadism has evolved into a lifestyle enabled by the normalization of remote employment.
But are we all eventually going to trade in our offices for a one-way ticket to Bali?
Digitalization is sweeping, but as it stands, the fact remains that not everyone’s job can be attended to 100% remotely. In many industries, customers still value and may even be willing to pay a premium for face-to-face interaction.
And for many employees, the thought of combining full-time travel with full-time work, isn’t appealing even if it were theoretically possible: many people still want to own a home and plant their roots to raise a family.
Furthermore, there are valid critiques about the negative impact that growing populations of mostly first-world digital nomads can have on the often post-colonial nations to which they flock.
Digital nomadism may be on the rise, and it may look super glamorous, but it would be rash to say that all work is heading in this direction. The growing number of digital nomads, and the growing number of industries for which digital nomadism is now an option, is better understood as the exception that proves the rule.
Remote work is among the most powerful trends shaping employment; digital nomads are simply a community within this larger trend who are the most eager to engage in location-independent work from as far away as they can.
And if this lifestyle is one that you find enticing, the market forecast looks good for you. No matter what industry you work in, there are a growing number of roles where full-time globetrotting is becoming a distinct possibility. Here are eleven job titles that are becoming increasingly compatible with digital nomadism:
About the Author: Alex North is an American content marketer and translator living in Germany.