In a digital world, we can work from anywhere. Next month will mark the 5th year anniversary of my freelance career. In 2010, when I was still a communications student at Stockholm University, I decided to start my own company and start supporting smaller organizations with social media strategy and management. This was just at the dawn of businesses starting to realize the value of social media. Today, five years later, my experience from the digital field allows me to work with clients from all over the world; while I myself can work physically from anywhere as long as I have a stable Internet connection.
The concept of living as a digital nomad is becoming all the more acceptable and popular – with the Internet erasing country boarders and making it possible for people working in the digital field to have the whole world as their playground. Basically, people can live of their backpack and go work from wherever they please, while supporting their clients online.
I came across an interesting article on how “Digital Nomads Are Redefining What It Means To Be Productive” by Forbes contributer Kavi Guppta (@kaviguppta). Kavi himself is a digital nomad, currently based in Australia, who has had the opportunity to connect with other like-minded people while traveling around the globe for the past 10 months. In his Forbes article, he focuses on two people in particular that have come to inspire him – Pieter Levels (@levelsio) who’s goal is to launch 12 startups in 12 months – and Youjin Do (@youjindo) who is currently producing the documentary “One way ticket – a digital nomad documentary”. Both exciting individuals to follow on Twitter to learn more about how one can erase the need of a permanent address and instead move around the world, staying in the same place for a couple of months to get inspired and to make new connections, before packing the bags and heading off again.
One of Pieter Levels’ start-up companies is nomadlist.com – a guide to the best places to live and work remotely. Here one can find information on cost of living, how big of a freelance crowd there is in a city, how many co-working spaces are available to join, the start-up climate, average rents, and of course, the Internet speed available in the place. Levels’ has also created nomadjobs.io where remote jobs at startups are listed, with a reach of 250 000 remote workers.
I came in contact with Jacob Laukaitis (@JacobLaukaitis) on Twitter, an online entrepreneur who works remotely with an e-commerce site while also writing for mayor tech publications like VentureBeat and TechinAsia. He’s written a great list of “5 wonderful places I’ve been to in Asia as a digital nomad“.
According to Wikipedia, a Digital Nomad is:
Digital nomads are individuals who leverage telecommunications technologies to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner. Such workers typically work remotely—from home, coffee shops, public libraries and even from recreational vehicles to accomplish tasks and goals that used to traditionally take place in a single stationary workplace.
Mashable also wrote an article on the subject this fall that sums it up pretty good: “Digital nomads travel the world while you rot in your office“. In the article Victoria Yershova, who runs Digital Nomad Hub, defines three types of digital nomads — freelance professionals (programmers, writers), online entrepreneurs and remote employees who started out in the office but are now out traveling.
“The three types of jobs I mentioned above do not contradict each other and are often combined, since many digital nomads tend to set up several income sources at once,” she says. “For instance, I work for an Italian PR company as an Italian-English-Russian translator, do some freelance copywriting and have a niche website that brings me money through advertising,” Yershova explains to Mashable.
It’s easy to romanticize about working in a sun chair at a picture perfect beach while enjoying a piña colada with your computer steady in your knee. However, a digital nomadic lifestyle can just as well be people living in a large city, working from different spots like cafés, an apartment, a hotel room or a co-working space where they rent a desk for an amount of time. It literally means people that are not bound to an office to do their job. That can focus, maybe even better, by changing environments and moving around. But they can still be just as effective as someone sitting at the same desk from 9 to 5 every day, year in and year out.
Of course, a digital nomadic lifestyle is not for anyone, but with the the technology at hand, it’s easier than ever to work from anywhere. And it doesn’t have to mean leaving your hometown either. In a Wired article from 2013, it is stated that Forrester Research’s US Telecommuting Forecast notes that 34 million Americans work from home: “The New Workplace Reality: Out of the Office“. Guardian London-based blogger Donna Ferguson asks the question: Why aren’t we all working from home today? Both articles discussing the future of the corporate office. Is the office itself really such an important factor of how to get us to work?
The other week my list of great cafés with free Wi-Fi in some of the world’s greatest metropolitans was published on leading Swedish tech-site Internetworld: Världens bästa nätfik med gratis wifi – här är hela listan.
I don’t know if I can define myself as a hard-core digital nomad. However, I am currently based in Tokyo, thanks to my husband having a job here, while I am working with clients in both Tokyo, Stockholm, Gothenburg and New York simultaneously. Last month I wrote a report for a London-based research agency. This month, I published a guest post on Singaporean based start-up site e27. The past year I have brought my computer along on any overseas trip I have made and thus worked from different spaces in both Tokyo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Seoul, Taipei, Sydney and San Francisco. And I intend to keep on living that way. Supporting my clients without the need to meet them in person daily. Becoming an even better resource for them by growing myself and learning by the different environments that I encounter, by the people I meet. That’s maybe the best thing about the start-up community globally – that you are always welcome to connect with them and meet up at different events. For Tokyo, I wrote a small guide on the startup scene the other month: Working for a Japanese start-up. And if you’re around the last week of March, why not join in on the Startups United hanami party in Ueno Park on March 31st, networking under the cherry blossoms?