The Management Series
May 2017

Wanderlust + Digital Age = ‘Work Tourism’

Increasing numbers of people are taking advantage of the ability to work remotely—very remotely. After all, if you don’t need to be in an office, why work from a home office or local coffee shop if you can send documents and emails from Paris, Rio, Bali or pretty much anywhere with a good Internet connection.

The New York Times recently explored the phenomenon of “digital nomads,” pointing out that, while some people have long paired work and travel, the trend, though not easily quantifiable, is clearly growing.

Credit both technology and the growing acceptance of the remote working enabled by that technology.

The Times points out that Upwork, a marketplace for online work, recently surveyed more than 1,000 hiring managers and found that “only one in 10 believed location was important to a new hire’s success; nearly two thirds said they had at least some workers who did a significant portion of their work from a remote location, and about half agreed that they had trouble finding the talent they needed locally.”

“Remote work has gone mainstream,” said Stephane Kasriel, Upwork’s chief executive, noting that being on-site nine to five “is a remnant of the industrial era.”

The Times article focuses on new companies that make it easy for people to experiment with the life of a digital nomad without making too drastic a plunge, like just buying a ticket to an exotic locale and packing a laptop. Unsettled, for example, offers 30-day experiences that include co-housing and workspaces along with events, workshops and other efforts that aim to help people more fully experience and live in local cultures rather just observe them as tourists.

So what’s it like being a digital nomad? Johannes Voelkner, founder of the travel guide and digital nomad community WebWorkTravel.com, shares his advice and observations on what this life is like. In his blog How to Be a Digital Nomad, he offers numerous tips, including the types of businesses and skills that best translate to a life on the move. Another resource is Nomad List, which ranks the top work/travel locations based on things like cost of living and strong, reliable Internet service.

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