Recently, I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed. Everything was as usual, until I found a person whose job title said, ‘Digital Nomad‘. On the face of it, you do realize what is this all about but turns out there is much more to this lifestyle than I ever knew. Having heard this term for the first time, I was totally intrigued by an elaborate thinking that had gone behind developing it. So, today, we talk about what is digital nomad? Is there any upside to it? Why you should consider being one yourself.
With the world being forced to work from home after the pandemic struck, our work lives have changed forever. For some, it is an absolute delight to work from home while others aspire to go back to the office. However, there is a surge in the number of people who extracted the most out of this situation. Enter, the latest hype in the workspace called WFA or work from anywhere. I recently came across this story of three friends who traveled from Mumbai to Kanyakumari on cycle without missing a day of office. More such stories are likely to pop up as more companies deciding to enable remote working even after we are done with the Coronavirus.
What is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who relies on the modern day wireless capabilities to work to earn a living and live their lives in a nomadic manner. Travelling from one place to the next and often found working from hotel lobbies, coffee shops, public libraries and recreational vehicles. While this was limited to freelancers earlier, post pandemic it is a possible lifestyle choice for almost anyone.
As per Wikipedia, One of the earliest known uses of the term digital nomad originally was in 1997, in the book Digital Nomad. It was the title of a book published by publishing company Wiley and written by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. It is unknown if the phrase was coined in this book or if they took a term that had already existed.
Characteristics of a Digital Nomad:
1. Remote Working:
The digital nomads adopted remote working before it was cool. Today, with the internet revolution, all work related tasks can be taken care of, from anywhere. The phrase “There’s an app for that” has taken a new shape and become a reality for us. Meetings, conferences, payment collection, account management, support– every function can be enabled remotely. Digital nomads leverage this ecosystem to keep switching locations without letting their work getting hampered.
Digital nomads tend to sell off a lot of materialistic possessions so that it is easier for them to move from one place to another. A typical asset I can envisage, a nomad having, is a specialized vehicle which can be used for travelling. Location independence is prioritized over all other aspects and it’s a fair trade off in my opinion. Imagine attending a meeting at a sunset point one day and in the snow covered peaks on the other.
It is not like your conventional holiday wherein you travel and may be work a little in the process and end up, so called, ‘rejuvenating‘ yourself. A digital nomad doesn’t have a home per say. He/she is into constant travelling understanding that they may have to stay anywhere on a given particular night. So think of this as a long term project and not something that you can give a shot for a month and then switch back to your normal routine (unless you have a lot of money at your disposal).
Benefits of Digital Nomad Lifestyle:
1. Work Life Balance:
So most of us complain that they are not able to keep up with the personal aspects of life because of work. However, when you are on road the entire time and encounter a picturesque scenery every now and then, it is hard to complain. You are almost carving out work from a life long vacation and not the other way round. Of course it takes discipline and time management, but once you strike a balance, there’s no looking back.
When did you go on a vacation last time? Okay, let us think why organizations these days ask you to mandatorily avail the leave quota? Obviously because your productivity shoots up after taking a few days off. Now imagine you are able to do that every single night? There is no monotony related to going back to the same place after work and coming back again tomorrow, with a nomadic lifestyle.
A digital nomad is likely to be more adaptable to real life situations than an average Joe. Mainly because you are travelling all the time and most likely dealt with some uneasy situations as well along your way. One may be able to analyze and come up with alternatives faster because of this lifestyle. I can totally see this trait becoming really handy at work.
The biggest downside of WFH is that you are not able to connect with your peers and everyone else at the office. This leads to lack of visibility. You are unable to polish your networking skills because of this. However, this domain of remote working (WFA) can help you tackle that problem. As you travel, there are many opportunities that are likely to come your way. You are bound to meet different types of people, from varied spheres of life. This will also give a boost to your perspective in general.
Who Should NOT be A Digital Nomad:
Let’s not view this lifestyle from rose tinted glasses and try to understand some downsides of being a nomad as well:
1. Comfort Lover:
If you need your 8 hours of sleep with no distractions, a mint by your plushy pillow on your 8″ mattress, you might want to give this lifestyle a pass. When you don’t know where you are going to spend the night, it is highly likely that you may have to compromise with the comfort at some point.
2. Risk Aversive:
Especially in India, a lot of areas are unsafe when it’s dark. So, unless you are ready to take that risk, a digital nomad role may not be for you. The risk of unknown is too damn high in these situations, therefore one must be ready to face it all. There are some people who get that adrenaline rush when it comes to the mysterious climaxes. You need to be one of them to make it work.
3. Financially Unsound:
Unless you hit the nomadic vibe completely, a digital nomad can be a costly affair. Spending nights in different locations, investing a specialized vehicle, fuel costs are something that you need to consider. Also, you might want to consider a good travel insurance if you are willing to jump in. With that being said, it is important that you plan it out completely from all aspects. The entire purpose of this exercise to reduce stress and experience a whole new dimension to work life. However, money can single handedly take the entire project down if not dealt with.
Pointers to be Considered:
Convinced that you can give this lifestyle a shot? Here are some tips that might be handy:
- Plan your finances and make a budget. Stick to it.
- Align your work and learn to manage time. No travel during office hours.
- Plan for the worst case scenario.
- Cellphone connectivity, necessary recharges, roaming packs to be taken care of.
- Learn a few words from the local language.
- Research the destinations ahead.
- Draw cash
And if you are really serious, I would recommend joining some social network dedicated to digital nomads. That might leave you in a better place to take a call. Examples of such networks are Nomadlist and Couchsurfing.
The very idea of nomadism sounds really interesting to me personally. Some day I might give it a shot. However, I plan to do it after I have enough funds to manage a rented apartment in my work town, and ability to purchase/rent an expensive specialized vehicle like a vanity van for a fixed duration. I would like to return back to normal after I have had enough. At the same time, I do not want to define what’s enough. You get the idea.
What do you think about being a digital nomad? One of my acquaintance recently gave it a shot for about 15 days and the photos are giving me a FOMO big time.
Until Next Time. . .