Digital nomads are a subset of remote workers. Not all telecommuters want to change their geographic location; many are happy working from home, others have family obligations that would make travelling difficult and some have to commute to the office from time to time.
For those who can and want to travel, being a digital nomad means – exploration, saving money and challenges—it’s a lifestyle choice and an increasingly popular choice!
In 2019-2020, the guys at MBO found that the number of digital nomads in America alone grew from 7.3 million to 10.9 million, an increase of almost 50%. In particular, the number of traditional digital nomad employees increased by 96%, from 3.2 million to 6.3 million during the same period.
But not all nomads are the same – the population is determined by those who travel for short periods, those who study for months or periods, and those who have occasional holidays where they visit different countries.
Like telecommuting, being digitally mobile is a matter of work-life choices, individual preferences and life. Not everyone is meant to work from home every day, and not everyone is meant to travel the world for work and be without a home.
Both groups of workers need flexibility and less control in their work arrangements, rather than being confined to a specific location or 9-5 schedule.
Young people are increasingly likely to embrace a nomadic lifestyle, usually because they have fewer responsibilities and more freedom. In general, older people have to consider the demands of their family members and are thus more likely to put themselves in the same position.
Thus, as a sign of the growing interest of all age groups in the age of Covid, the geography of business travel continues to be dominated by young generations.
From 2019 to 2020, the share of Gen Z and Millennial nomads increased from 48% to 62%, while the share of Boomers decreased from 27% to 17% and the share of Gen X from 25% to 22%. The reason for this? Quite simply, older workers are more likely to get sick and die from Covid than their younger counterparts. However, for companies looking to retain younger generations, it may be important to offer less flexibility – including the ability to travel – to attract a wider range of talent.
In the early stages of Covid, nomads travelled a lot in the US and worked there due to strict international travel restrictions. Many of their favourite metropolises included Boulder, Colorado, Austin, Texas, and Boca Raton, Florida.
Despite some advances, travelling abroad is still intimidating for many explorers. Only about a quarter of the nomads plan to travel internationally this time, while the rest are staying at home.
For some workers, the situation is subtle – the less they travel, the more work they do, as travelling while working can be difficult. A slower pace also gives people the opportunity to get to know places and groups in depth.
All signs point to the telecommuting trend taking on an endless lifestyle, and so the digital nomad sub-trend is likely to grow as well. One clue that the cycle will continue is that some large companies are willing to support full-time workers who want to continue this life.
For example, Microsoft allows domestic or international relocation that covers employees’ home offices, but not relocation expenses. Inflexibility and support for business investment allow more workers, especially the young skeleton, to choose the life of a migrant.
In addition, the survey reveals that nine out of ten nomads are mostly highly satisfied or satisfied with their work and life. So much so that 53% say they plan to continue as a digital nomad for at least the next two seasons.
Continuing the trend, 19 million Americans who are not digital said they would like to become a nomad in the next few years, and 64 million would consider it.