What will the world look like in 2030? According to business mogul and SpaceX founder Elon Musk we may be travelling into space. However if that seems too unrealistic his high speed "Hyperloop" transportation system is well on its way and could take you between locations in 45 minutes that currently take hours. Then there's air travel which is expected to get significantly faster and significantly cheaper.
Cheaper and faster is also something that we can expect from the internet, which is set the cover even more obscure corners of the globe.
Oh and by 2030 over a billion people will be digital nomads.
What Is A Digital Nomad?
You know how you wake up in the morning, put on those uncomfortable trousers and that restrictive shirt, so you can hit the gridlock of traffic or hordes of commuters, in order to get to your desk cubicle at work by 9am?
That might not happen anymore!
Even in its current form technology exists to allow a large portion of the working population to do their job remotely. You just need a laptop, the right software and an internet connection.
Digital nomads are people who have recognized this and are living life to the full because of it. They leverage technology and the increasing ease of travel to experience different cultures and fulfil their bucket lists, all while working on the go. Many are freelancers in the tech and web based industries, or run their own businesses that can be maintained remotely. Others are still in permanent employment, but are part of a culture shift where companies are halving or completely closing the office and keeping everyone in contact through apps and email.
As explored in a new infographic by SavvyBeaver Canada and BargainFox the popular viral news website BuzzFeed has a 50% remote workforce. Mozilla the company behind web browser Firefox is 60% remote. Automattic, the developers of the Wordpress blogging platform have all 400 staff members working from their own chosen locations all over the world.
As long as the company plans adequately for the transition, the benefits of being fully distributed are numerous. For example no more funds have to be allocated to an expensive office complex, and the best talent can be chosen from the global pool, as opposed to people who are local.
Traditional Remote Work vs Digital Nomads
Of course the concept of remote work is not new. There have always been those that offer their services as independent contractors or freelancers. Even in the late 70s and 80s companies were setting up networks of branch offices and teleworkers. However it wasn't until the 2000s approached that a significant amount of people were able to use home computers and the internet to work office based jobs from home. Today around 30% of the US population are classed as freelancers in this context, but according to prominent digital nomad Pieter Levels this number is going to skyrocket even further.
There is a distinction to be made however. Digital nomads are not just former office workers that recreated their workstation at home. The whole world is their home. One day they're living in a hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the next they're couchsurfing in Australia.
They use online communities on Reddit and other sites to share travel tips and budgets, the best locations, and the fun things to do. Now there are even apps that do a similar thing, such as NomadList that helps you find the most cost effective cities. Other apps such as Timedoctor and Slack are key for remote work productivity. Managing multi-currency accounts with Revolut and money transfers via Transferwise also make personal finance while travelling much easier. So no matter if you are coming from USA, Europe, Canada or anywhere else in the world, moving and working abroad today has become significantly easier and more convenient.
The digital nomad lifestyle has also fed in to the sharing and cooperative economy. With no workplace, pioneering nomads are setting up co-working spaces all over the world to accommodate whoever decides to travel through. And they don't look like your typical office either. Artistic designs, leisure and relaxation areas, cutting edge technology, and the ability to network with like minded people.
Startup Caravanserai is taking this a step further by developing a network of co-living spaces. When Elon Musk's high speed travel takes off people are going to be too busy wandering the earth to spend money on a home.
While you might even be quite content with your current office job, who knows what the future will bring?
For more interesting facts about the current digital nomad landscape, the coolest co-working spots, the companies that have made the transition, and more, check out this new infographic from BargainFox.
About the Author: I am Georgi Georgiev, currently based in Bali, Indonesia where I plan to stay at least for a year. I co-founded a start-up here and we are currently 16 people team of which 13 are based in Bali. Been on the road for 10 years and lived in around 11 different locations worldwide. At present I try to base myself at warmer places which allow for surf. Previously I worked for Techstars in London, UK. I also went to Lund University in Sweden and Rollins in Florida, USA. I write about digital nomads/remote work quite often so I hope I will be useful resource for you. Follow me on Twitter: @ggeorgiev and my personal blog