Due to the circumstances which we are facing in 2020, we have a new phenomenon spreading out – the ‘home office’. However, working remotely started to be trendy long before the pandemic forced the industries to think outside the box and delegate work outside of the conventional offices. Some of the cleverer companies or industry sectors developed this strategically great system long ago. Many of you, cool people out there, already belong to the digital family or at least you are in the clue. I guess that like-minded people who are reading my blog are familiar with the term ‘digital nomad’. But just in case you aren’t, here is a little explanation on that particular lifestyle of digital nomading.
What or who is a Digital Nomad?
Quoting Wikipedia digital nomads are ‘a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles’.
The definition basically nails it. I would like to add that more and more people of different ages and from different sectors join this cool community, while some years ago it was mostly young tech-savvy men with a professional background in programming or web design.
Nowadays there is a wide range of remote work possibilities in different areas. Some countries like the USA or UK have long ago recognised the advantages of such a system while other western countries (like Germany) are still a bit behind, cultivating the old fashioned way of employment.
Digital Nomading – Living On The Go
Working while traveling. It is a particular lifestyle and not for everyone but some of us are quite happy to live on the go. Maybe not forever but even if only for a certain amount of time, it is definitely a very special experience. It’s an opportunity to travel the world without waiting for the retirement and many of us are grasping it. With a rising tendency.
We have all the resources for it. For more than a decade now – basically since Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007 – we have all that we need literally in our hands.
Our McBooks are small and portable. We stream our music, our podcasts and our movies. Who needs a local TV or a ‘HiFi’ (do you guys even know what it is?) if we have Spotify, YouTube, Netflix!? We can even listen to our local radio station while being on a different continent. Who needs a calculator nowaydays? Or a dictionary? We have apps for everything. Our physical books got exchanged for Kindle and photo albums for Instagram. We have all the tech that we need and all the possibilities always with us!
Light Baggage – the credo of Digital Nomading
Sharing resources is a booming trend. Home sharing/ car sharing/ co-working/ co-living/ co-vacationing. Why have a car if we have Uber? Who needs a local home if we have AirBnB – an apartment that we can choose according to our gusto and in every corner of the world. Each time a new one. No need to re-decorate. Amazing!
We can even rent a pet ! There is an app and a website for everything to make our lives global and international. Our lives became very mobile! We carry less, we possess less. Contrary to the previous hamstering generations we prefer to have less but to experience more. Minimal possessions (that you can take with you or store easily) versus extended adventures and international experiences.
So if we get a job that we can execute remotely, it’s obvious that we will combine it with travelling. Right?!
On my way to Digital Nomading
In my last article I was speaking about Chiang Mai and now I feel inspired telling you my own story then it was actually in Chiang Mai that I met my first Digital-Nomad-friend who inspired me to this crazy and beautiful lifestyle.
On my first sabbatical back in 2013, Maciej was my AirBnB neighbour and a very ambitious young man. Him, Polish-American, me Polish-German and USA fan, we quickly bonded. I had my massage school, Maciej worked and in the evenings we discovered the city together.
Observing him working while traveling fascinated me. I had just quit my long term job, where I actually travelled 90% of my time, networking for a tourism company across the globe. Still, not the same as being where and when YOU decide to be, rather than your boss.
My new friend told me about the whole ‘movement’ of digital nomading which was new to me back then. I realised that there are many people living this experience while they are young and have no families. He told me about the hubs and platforms to get together and share experiences, about useful apps and websites to learn how to open a bank account in destination X or to check where is the best café with the fastest internet in destination Y. He told me about coworking spaces and about workshops and conferences that they organise to build a community. A whole new world opened up to me! I got hooked.
Working remotely – a lifestyle full of opportunities
I loved the idea of working remotely, being able to choose your location at any time! That seemed to be the answer to my constant ‘need’ of moving around. I’m like a gipsy, not (yet) able to settle down because I like it everywhere and I find the word too beautiful and too interesting to just stay put in one place for good. I made it my personal mission to experience life in many places already a long time ago, but until now this required changing jobs and moving. I mean moving in the old fashioned way – selling the car, closing the bank account, canceling the internet etc. Well you know, what I’m saying…
But now, here comes a whole new world full of possibilities! The answer to my dreams!
Some time later, during the same Asia-trip I met Maciej again. In Bangkok that was. He came to attend a Digital Nomad Conference and invited me to join the event. I met incredibly interesting people and felt super excited and inspired (you know that tingly feeling when a new aspiration starts to build up within you?!). Next to me at the dinner table, there was this German guy who told me that he used to be ‘a boring accountant from a small town’ and that now he is living the time of his life, moving around South East Asia. His backpack and laptop being his only possessions. His heart filled with gratitude and happiness. I don’t even remember his name but this guy touched my soul!
I met him a month later in Ho Chi Minh. He picked me up with his bike, took me for lunch to a place known only by locals and told me that he fell in love with a Vietnamease lady and that he is staying in Vietnam for a while. I also met Maciej here again. It was his farewell. He was going back to the US. I was going back to Bali (my Asia-homebase) thinking ‘I want that too! I want to live like those cool guys!
The obstacles are in your head
At first I thought this was going to be just a beautiful dream for me. I found all those excuses that I ‘don’t belong’ into this community.
Besides the fact that I was on a sabbatical between two jobs, with a contract already signed for a new management position back in London, I thought of myself as ‘at the age’ where I should start to prioritise my personal life over my career.
However, my biggest obstacle was the idea that without a tech background the doors to the digital world are closed for me.
Guess what?! NOT true! Life is crazy (in a good way!)! Life is unpredictable and full of surprises and if you really want something, the universe is going to bring it to you. Situations will shift and beautiful things will fall into your lap!
Without going into details I just want to share with you that both my professional and my personal life started to shift into the direction of ‘location-independent living’ (a German expression which I absolutely LOVE) from the moment I decided to experience it. Situations occurred, people came into my life (or left)… Doors closed and others opened. Whatever happened, good or bad, believe me that absolutely everything led to this point where I am now: Fully freelancing and fully traveling for the past 3 years!
But now there is Corona!
Ok, except for the BREAK that we are forced to take from life right now. The Corona-still-stand.
I finally made it, wrote an article about it – sitting in my beloved café in Chiang Mai – ready to announce myself a proud member of the Digital Nomad Community and NOW THIS! A real bummer!
On the top of losing my major client, I can’t go back to my beloved South East Asia this fall as I usually did. I am ‘stuck’ in Europe, waiting and observing. Working on my patience in the meantime.
But you know what? I’m not giving up! Good things will happen again! Life is always finding its way and so will we. Maybe in a different way, but we will.
We will travel again and cherish it even more. New remote working possibilities will pop up because even the most conventional companies and industries realise now that it is not only possible but also cost effective. On the top it gives a bigger motivation to stay loyal to one employer for a longer period of time if we are free to choose our whereabouts. And because we feel trustworthy. Trust is always a big motivator.
Working and traveling post Corona
We don’t know what is going to happen in a few months. The economy is struggling. What does it mean for the travel industry? Which of the Airlines will survive? Will the plane tickets still be affordable? Will we be able to access our preferred Nomand-destinations like Latin America or South East Asia? Is my preferred café in Canggu is still going to be open? How about my AirBnB in Singapore?
Will my clients be able to use my services again? How is the job market going to shape up? On one hand there might be more competition because people got the taste of working from home and would like to continue with the home-office work-style? On the other hand, as I said, there will be more opportunities for remote positions because we learned to be flexible (and we have Zoom now ; )). Offering remote positions is more profitable for the companies since they have reduced risk and fix-costs (work space rent etc.).
I guess it’s not for everyone and you will always find an employer who might fear that his team won’t work proficiently when they are not in the office. He might feel not in control. Fortunately his misperception is changing and the bosses start to realise how much they can gain from being open minded toward this new trend. At the end of the day, if you meet targets and deliver results, does it really matter WHERE you are performing it? As I said, if you are in your chosen and ‘happy place’ you generate better results!
As for me I know for a fact that I can work better and more focused in a quiet café somewhere at the rice field of Bali then in a big and loud London office.
This too shall pass!
As Abraham Lincolm once said ‘this too shall pass!’. Let’s cross fingers for all of us. Let’s apply the principles of Law-of-Attraction and focus on our goals, talking action in small steps. After all, they didn’t build Rome in one day.
I, for my part, am excited where life is going to lead me after the pandemic. Before Corona I had many ideas and projects to pursue. Ideas are always rising when you travel. Inspiring people are crossing your path. You feel alive. It’s magic!!!! Seriously! I am a strong believer of the motto that ‘anything is possible’. We just need to spread our wings and fly. To trust, to believe and keep a positive energy towards our plans and intentions. With the right mindset our undertaking will be successful. Yes, there is the bigger force called Covid-19 throwing stones into our ways now and it is very hard to keep our minds on track and stay positive. But all we need is a little patience. Let’s keep optimistic people! We are all in this together.
Maybe I’m writing this article to remind and motivate myself. I’m wishing all of us a successful post-Corona time filled with interesting projects.
It’s like we are all in a big Arche Noah, floating around a big sea of incertitude towards a new era…
Stay tuned guys (and healthy)!
PS. For now we can tour around in a Camper Van. It’s a new trend! I did it last year. Believe me camper van life is great fun! Read more about my roadtrip through Ireland in my article WILD ATLANTIC WAY – Ireland’s coast per campervan.
Useful links for ‘Digital Nomads to be’:
If you want to join a global community of international travelers working remotely around the world. Check out the Nomadlist. You will find useful information about the best destinations, insurances etc.
Checking remote work opportunities ? This blog post will help. My friend Anna from WILD GECKOS is listing the major websites and platforms: Remote Job Boards recommendations.
In my previous article I was also talking about this topic. Chiang Mai is one of the top destination chosen by digital nomads. Check it out: My Chiang Mai – Digital Nomads, massage schools and street markets
Furthermore, check out FB groups & Instagram. They are good platforms to join diverse remote-work groups and digital nomads communities.
Good luck! (to all of us. We will rock again when 2020 is over!)