Key words to describe a digital nomad are: work, travel, internet, flexibility, no home address.
Digital nomads are Nomadic entrepreneurs and professionals often work as freelance writers, photographers, affiliate marketers, web designers, software developers, graphic designers, and other types of knowledge workers who can perform work duties irrespective of physical location. They use new technologies like wireless internet, smartphones, Voice over IP, and cloud-based applications to conduct business, work remotely, and earn an income wherever they live or travel. Digital nomads also often utilize coworking spaces and shared offices in major cities around the world.
With the urge for more flexible workspace growing over the years, flex workers started out in their own city, working from home, or swapping offices, no solid workspace anymore or private cubicle, but shared desk-space. This becomes more popular every day. Flexibility is the middle name of the modern professional and they work where ever there is WiFi.
Due to the growing needs of the group early adaptors and the fact that in 1999 every laptop had WiFi and flexible working became available for the masses, hubs and coworking-spaces popped up all over the world. Some Flex workers started traveling internationally and moving abroad, while they continue to work with clients or employers in the west. They became Digital Nomads.
Who was the first Digital Nomad?
In 1983 Steve Roberts sets out on a 17.000 miles journey on a “computerized recumbent bicycle”, he becomes the very first digital nomad. He wrote an article that still influences and inspires the world of Nomadic workers.
When was the phrase Digital Nomads first used?
Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners published the book Digital Nomad
It’s the first book on the topic. For the first time the name is used in a publication.
The book explains how current and future technological possibilities, combined with our natural urge to travel, will once again allow mankind to live, work, and exist on the move. The book provides a deep insight into the lifestyle in the near future.
Flexibility and the masses
With (free) WiFi available on every street corner and in every café and even in plains and trains it becomes more and more appealing to many people to work outside the office. I for myself owned a coworking space for quite some time and I met a lot of flex-workers and Digital Nomads looking for a place to work, have their Skype conferences and print documents. With standard online payment providers like PayPal, the only bridge to conquer for a Digital Nomad is the one of world-wide health insurance, visa and work-permits, local taxes and family contact.
More and more the internet provides in spaces to chat with fellow nomads, find work online and website listing the best co-workingspaces around the world.
Brands embrace the phrasing starting in 2009 when National Geographic launched the Digital Nomad Blog soon followed by numerous websites like Workshifting, the Digital Nomads Academy and Global Bloggers Network.
A Digital Nomadic Lifestyle seems to become an entrepreneurship on its own as more and more nomads publish their experience and share their knowledge online.
The fast growing group of digital nomads do get more and more attention from the press, articles appear, lifestyle is explained and there is no limit reached yet to those traveling the world while working.
Will it be the work style of the future?
Yes, I do believe so. Although some professions can never leave the office, people do get more creative and want to be more flexible when it comes to working hours and office space. World economy urges us to think more creative about office buildings, overhead expenses and long-term employment.
When I was young an expat was something exotic and exciting, nowadays almost every student or graduate has lived, worked or studied abroad for some period of time. Working in another country has become quite normal as globalization grows.
I do believe that Digital Nomads and more so: flex workers, can become a new future lifestyle for even more people. Not all in foreign and exotic designations though, most of them will work local, but the idea of working from a nice white sandy beach is appealing to many. Even to myself.