A few years ago, if you wanted to travel whilst earning money to support yourself along the way, you might have picked fruit, or taught a language. But recently, globalisation, world-wide internet access and the rise of digital freelancing have opened up new possibilities which only a decade ago were out of reach. Since the mid-twentieth century, technology has completely changed the knowledge economy, but for some, it's not only revolutionised the work they are doing: it's also completely changed their lifestyle.
Digital nomads - typically freelance writers, translators, developers, or online businesses owners - have the tools, and increasingly, the workspaces to base themselves anywhere in the world.
"The digital nomad lifestyle is a sign of things to come"
Whilst digital nomads share a desire to combine work with travel, each individual has their own way of doing it. Some travel en masse as part of organised projects such as Remote Year or My Wander Year. Others venture independently, preferring to personally discover and explore. Some travel rapidly, spending only a few weeks in each location, whilst many follow the philosophy of slow travel, spending months or years in a single place. Whilst sometimes difficult to define, one thing we're sure of is that the digital nomad lifestyle is a sign of things to come.
Technology continues to break down location constraints (and shows no sign of slowing, with the recent advances in virtual reality headsets, for example). As automation disrupts more and more jobs in the manufacturing, retail and transport industries (to name but a few) there's a shift to knowledge and creative work, which often allows for more flexible working arrangements including hot-desking, flexible hours and coworking.
Even those in traditional workspaces are feeling the effects of the ongoing coworking movement and the unconventional workspaces made popular by leaders in the technology sector, with communal working areas and creative spaces within offices on the rise.
"Digital nomads are pioneering lifestyle design"
Whilst not everyone wants to or is able to combine work and travel, the philosophies behind the digital nomad lifestyle are being increasingly adopted by a much broader segment of the global population. Digital nomads are pioneering in the wider field of lifestyle design, with objectives including:
- Better work/life balance
- Prioritising experience rather than material possessions
- Seeking communities beyond traditional organisational and cultural boundaries
- Meaningful social impact
- Mindfulness and well-being.
Are you a digital nomad already? If not, does the lifestyle appeal? Which of the philosophies above resonates with you the most?
In upcoming blog posts, we'll be getting to know some digital nomads, hearing about their projects and travels, and getting their opinion on the changing world of work. If you'd like to contribute to these, or know someone who you think we should feature, please get in touch.