With so many of us able to work remotely, the Digital Nomad life is certainly attractive to most people - especially as the summer rolls in. In the age of Social Media, any chance to work in a different gorgeous place every week seems like a great way to live. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? How would you decide if this kind of lifestyle is for you? We’ll break Digital Nomadism for you so you can ultimately make your own decision.
What is a Digital Nomad?
One of the earliest mentions of the phrase "Digital Nomad" was from a 1997 book of the same title by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. In it, they point to a theory that, because technology was advancing swiftly, humans would easily be able to return to a more nomadic lifestyle. Today, that feels more real than ever with so many of us able to work from anywhere around the globe. And then there was the #VanLife surge a few years back that looked attractive on the surface but was precisely the mirage we’d all suspected it to be. Yet some remote workers who want to travel the world have managed to make a life for themselves as Digital Nomads in 2022.
The Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
1. You are Your Own Hotspot
One of the reasons we might love traveling so much is that we are able to get away from it all and leave “the grid” behind. You can’t do that while working as a Digital Nomad. Strong Wifi is essential to your success and, if you don’t have that, you’re going to let your clients down more often. You might even lose clients without constant connectivity. In addition to worrying about wifi, you’ll need to make sure your hardware is all up to date. You might find yourself too far from an authorized Apple dealer or computer helpdesk to react to any system failures or frequent freezes. Plus, you’ll need to make sure your licenses and insurances are valid while abroad—it can be tricky and costly.
2. You’re Still Working on Their Time
You might absolutely love working from, say, Istanbul, but that means you’ll be working some late nights to satisfy your NYC clients’ needs - or even later for those SF and LA clients. You could even find yourself in meetings at 1 AM. Not to mention all of your work might be due at odd hours if your client has particular deadlines. Though you are living that Nomad life, your time zone is really wherever your client is. Keep this in mind and be realistic about what you’re up for…and not up for.
3. Keep Your Work Face On
Even if you’re enjoying all of the rewards of working remotely, you’ll need to look presentable and professional for client-facing meetings. You will need to be all-business in your contact with your clients, even if you’re having the time of your life away from a cubicle. This means having office attire on hand if you need to hop on a meeting, resisting the urge to go into full vacation mode during a workday, and not holding your meetings in envy-worthy spots (as it could be a turn-off to others on the call). Your personal work face might mean a nice top and bathing suit bottoms but clients will always want to know that you are able to care of business during the workday—and you can’t afford to let them down while you’re living it up.
The Pros of Being a Digital Nomad
1. Travel and live your life
If you plan well and keep within your budget, you can visit the places you’ve always dreamed of, all while getting paid. No question about it, this is the best part of being a Digital Nomad. And, as we’ve highlighted, there’s never been a better time to hire trustworthy remote workers. While you’re traveling, you can visit family and friends, spend time reflecting in quiet remote places, and truly live your life on the road—if that’s something you’ve always wanted to do.
2. Work for virtually any company
We talk a lot about freelancers here and we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the benefits of working remotely. Again, if you plan well and are already connected to clients you trust, you can continue your freelance business without missing a beat. Hold meetings, invoice, and work all from the comfort of your Airbnb or Hotel, while working for any company across the globe. Of course, you’ll need to still put the work into landing those clients. But you’ll have the benefit of balancing that hard work with your downtime hanging by the ocean or going for a weekend hike.
3. Continuous inspiration from new surroundings
If we travel because our lives at home tend to get stale, then it stands to reason that relocating more often will give you continuous new perspectives to think on. If you’re a creative person, this is a particular benefit that can improve your everyday work and even make you more marketable to clients. For example, if you’re able to learn a new language and become fluent, you instantly open yourself up to more clients who need your bilingual skills. The same goes for the history of the places you’re a part of—they become a part of you and influence your own creative drive.
TLDR; if you’re the type of person who is looking to become a Digital Nomad, you’ll need to stay connected, be flexible, put your clients first and perhaps be a little more vigilant about your job than if you were staying in one place. However, the travel and work/life benefits could be truly rewarding if you’re good at balancing your responsibilities and strong with personal boundaries.
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