What is a digital nomad?
As technology allows us to become more and more connected with the world digitally, new possibilities for the way that we can live our lives have sprung up. It’s becoming a lot easier for us to disregard traditional modes of living in favor of more dynamic, technologically-enabled lifestyles. We can meet and connect with people, work towards educational degrees, and earn a living, all online! With the way things are heading the only thing we may not be able to outsource to the internet might be eating food.
With the internet becoming so much more accessible and comprehensive, some people are making dramatic shifts to move as much of their life into the digital domain. Such individuals are referred to as digital nomads.
Although digital nomads are primarily referred to as such because they earn their living through digital means, untethered to a physical workspace or environment, the term is used to encompass individuals who have shifted much of their general livelihood to the digital world. By leaving the constraints of having to be at a physical location for an income, digital nomads enjoy a freedom that enables them to be “nomadic” and move about at their own discretion.
Beyond new technologies making this possible, what are the reasons that are driving the increase in this novel demographic?
A greater push for autonomy
There are about 4.8 million people that identify as digital nomads, but there are 17 million more people that are looking to become digital nomads themselves. There seems to be a general change in the attitudes of people towards doing remote work.
People want to travel more
The world is now a lot more accessible due to the effects of globalization and delicate political diplomacy. This means that it is a lot easier for one to go see places on a scale like never before! Anybody who has traveled to another country is liable to catch the travel bug. But typical jobs make it hard for the average person to find the time to travel nowadays.
New remote opportunities are spurring demographic groups that were not working before
Demographic groups such as retirees are taking advantage of the flexibility of the digital nomad lifestyle to pick up freelance work with their extra time. Doing these kinds of side jobs helps them make a little cash on the side and have something to pass the time.
Rising availability of coliving spaces
Coliving spaces are great sources of housing for digital nomads. They offer flexibility in lease terms and the opportunity to live in vibrant professional oriented communities. Coliving housing development projects are popping up all over the U.S, especially in large urban cities like New York and Los Angeles.
What are some benefits of living as a digital nomad?
For one, there is a more flexible lifestyle afforded by being a digital nomad. One can work from virtually anywhere, thus having more time to spend doing things they want to be doing, like traveling. Digital nomads are able to escape some of the more mundane aspects of a regular job, like commuting.
By working in a virtual capacity, digital nomads can get their work done incredibly efficiently and thus do things like taking an extra day off for a longer weekend. Having a 4 day work week leaves one with an ample amount of time to fit in more recreational activities or rest as needed!
If they wish to pursue personal ventures or projects, digital nomads are in the best position to leverage their free time. Generally, many opt to take advantage of this, resulting in a wide breadth of creative and mobile outcomes for digital nomads.
In fact, some workers may be living as digital nomads because they are waiting for their actual ventures to fall in place. Whereas before, they may have had to take part-time gigs at a company that demanded their physical presence.
What kinds of work are they doing?
The kinds of work that digital nomads are doing is incredibly variable as they typically employ an explorative approach where what is expected of them is dynamic. This helps digital nomads develop a diverse array of skills that make them increasingly valuable to the workforce.
For companies with small IT departments, it can be very worthwhile to outsource minor and less demanding IT related work to a digital nomad. Although the work may not be particularly demanding, it can be time consuming for small IT teams who would rather be focusing on more pressing initiatives, such as revamping a company’s cybersecurity infrastructure.
If an employee’s work is primarily based in the digital sphere, such as software engineering, then it often does not make a difference if they’re in an office or not as long as they have a laptop. Some large tech software companies already have policies that allot a day in the week for an employee to work remotely from home. Many startups, in an attempt to bootstrap and save on costs, employ digital nomads for their software engineering needs.
Jobs that only require employees to be available for a certain set of hours ready to talk and assist clients, such as the customer service industry, are particularly geared to be fulfilled by digital nomads. As long as they’re tuned into the server and have received proper training, a digital nomad can do the duties required of a customer service representative from virtually anywhere! They only really have to make sure they’re in a quiet enough place to do the work.
Similar to software development, contemporary writers do most of their work on digital devices. Even when writers wrote on typewriters and other analog devices, many were known to take advantage of their time to travel or behave like nomads while writing. In fact, it was encouraged due to traveling’s association with creative musing and inspiration.
Few professions were in a better position to transition to digital nomadism than writing.
With design work being more and more enabled by technological advances, the profession is quickly shifting, ushering in the era of “digital design”. Digital designers are commanding more and more work to the point that the demand for their services is knows no continental boundaries. A Digital nomad can function as an independent contractor for any number of firms that need their talent.
What other things are digital nomads doing?
Digital nomads aren’t tied down to any particular place and they also work under extremely flexible circumstances so they have ample discretion to spend their time. The things that they can do is completely up to them. While it may be easy for some people to idly spend such precious time, digital nomads are not the type of people to waste the day. Here are some things that a digital nomad may be doing.
Because they can travel extensively, many digital nomads make time to blog about their experiences to share with the world. The medium can range from simply written articles to full-blown video series. This has also no doubt inspired many others to go on travel excursions themselves or even think about becoming a digital nomad.
Many digital nomads identify as creatives or at the very least understand the importance of creative outlets. For some, this can mean writing and producing music. Drawing from experiences such as traveling can be very conducive to creative expression.
Learning/Trying something new
Digital nomads are initiative people who are always trying to do things they haven’t before. This can be learning a skill such as playing drums or even eating new dishes for recreation purposes. Digital nomads are constantly exploring new horizons wherever they may be.
How to become a digital nomad if that interests you
If you’re already working a job with work that is largely computer-based, then you are in a great position to transition to digital nomadism.
There’s a good chance that your employer would be open to letting you do work remotely, although this might only be once a week at first until trust has been established. After some time and diligent remote work on your part, your employer will be confident in your ability to complete tasks regardless of where you are. Of course, they may want to have you somewhat nearby so keep that caveat in mind if you plan on traveling!
Even if your employer is not open to letting you do your work remotely, you could still feasibly break into digital nomadism if you are up for switching up your career. This is because you most likely have skills that can be high in demand of digital nomads which means you can reasonably expect to find work. (though the pay may vary). Building a portfolio can be useful in your job hunt.
If your job isn’t computer based, don’t worry because there are other routes to becoming a digital nomad!
If you have a general proficiency with using a computer then you are in a great position to pick up one of the many different roles that are available where you can learn on the job. Many everyday skills also translate well into one of those roles! There are plenty of nontechnical roles that just about anybody can jump into. Things like customer service and teaching a language are always in high demand.
In addition to Los Angeles being a major target city for digital nomads, the city is also where many digital nomads come from.
This makes LA
a central hub..
of sorts for digital nomads everywhere giving them a strong community space.
New coliving and coworking development projects are transforming Los Angeles into a city that supports and nurtures digital nomadism. Here are some great examples of places doing just that.
This community style living space is meant to give residents a cheap studio living arrangement with excellent perks such as group dinners and events. This place was made with social living in mind and so makes plenty of arrangements to espouse activities that bring the residents together.
Second Home Los Angeles
This is a coworking space located in several neighborhoods, including Hollywood, that features amenities such as a wellness garden, courtyard restaurant, recording studio, post-production facilities, and a few other things that prove to be incredibly useful to members.
These facilities serve entrepreneurs and working professionals alike and aim to bring people of all walks together for a collaborative working experience. Cross Campus enjoys a cosign by the city of LA Mayor’s office for the benefits they bring to the community.
Other notable organizations that are contributing in a similar fashion include WeWork, with coworking spaces available in just about every corner of Los Angeles, and Podshare which offers flexible, low cost coliving and work spaces that would be great for digital nomads!
LA has many resources to support this community including short programs geared for teaching people skills that can help them be more competitive in their pursuit of getting a job that will allow them to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle. These programs can be a cost effective path to quickly developing crucial skills.
How enrolling programs in such programs in LA can help you become a digital nomad
- LA is a massive city where people from all over the world, especially digital nomads, come to. This means that in addition to there being a thriving job market with many options for work, you will be able to be around like minded people.
- These programs can be a great alternative for individuals looking to gain practical knowledge without having to deal with the time and money constraints that full-time programs such as an MBA demand.
- Requirements for full-time Grad programs can be incredibly stringent, requiring time consuming standardized testing (GMAT,GRE,etc) and application processes that can also be very time consuming.
- Cost of living in LA is noticeably cheaper than in other high target cities for business such as New York.
M-ACCELERATOR’s Entrepreneurship Startup Program offers you a great opportunity to develop yourself professionally under the leadership of highly experienced mentors and advisors. It’s a great place to start for those looking to gain the skills that can enable them to become digital nomads.
Throughout the program, you will gain incredible, transformative experiences, skills and knowledge that will hone your professional drive and help you become more competitive for roles that would require remote work, such as digital marketing. At the programs core is a regimen designed to instill solid business management skills and to teach innovative design tools.
In addition, you will learn how to effectively communicate your ideas and move them forward. The program is filled with hands-on workshops in each weekly ‘sprint’, covering a variety of topics ranging from business communication to digital marketing, resource management, and much more.
All while in the company of a cohort of like-minded individuals that will become a valuable part of your personal and professional network.
Challenge yourself in one of the premier business ecosystems in the world and find out what kind of growth is in store for you.
As the world continues to become more technologically advanced, it’s inevitable that we will continue to see some dramatic changes in the way that we conduct our lives.
For some people, this is an excellent chance to obtain more freedom in the way they live. Although the work of the digital nomad is plugged into cyberspace, the nature of their work simultaneously gives them the opportunity to connect with the physical word like never before.
Although the future is uncertain, the number of people living as digital nomads will surely increase as people continue to dream of a life free of conventional tethers.