Digital nomads are highly skilled individuals working in a variety of industries.
Late in 2022, Airbnb unveiled a new digital nomad policy allowing employees to work temporarily in more than 170 countries. Citing a belief that flexible and remote work will continue gaining traction, CEO Brian Chesky said the policy will enable the company to recruit top talent from all over the world.
Data certainly suggests Airbnb is onto something.
A report from MBO Partners found nearly 17 million Americans identified as digital nomads in 2022, up 131% from 2019.
And it’s not just freelancers and independent contractors, either. The ranks of digital nomads with traditional employment have more than tripled since 2019, now making up 66% of all digital nomads. These highly skilled individuals work in a variety of industries, the most common including information technology, creative services, sales, marketing and consulting.
Will the Digital Nomad Trend Prevail In An Economic Downturn?
Proponents of remote work and digital nomadism are confident the trend will continue even amid an economic downturn and more companies (such as Disney and Starbucks) forcing people to return to the office.
Dr. Rochelle Haynes, CEO of Crowd Potential Consulting
Dr. Rochelle Haynes
“In the worst state of the economy, we were still seeing an increase in digital nomadism, especially among those who are highly skilled,” says Dr. Rochelle Haynes, CEO of Crowd Potential Consulting and head of research at the Association for the Future of Work. Dr. Haynes is currently partnering with Barbados to help create the infrastructure needed to attract and effectively engage digital nomads.
Companies that fail to fit digital nomads into their future talent strategies may lose out on some highly skilled employees, she notes. “Talent is going in this direction, and companies should be paying attention. We’re seeing more people choosing to resign and seek out other opportunities because they’re re-thinking their work-life balance and work experience.”
What’s more, at a time of staggeringly low employee engagement, research shows that 81% of digital nomads are highly satisfied with their work and lifestyle, compared to 68% of nondigital nomads. That satisfaction is key to unlocking discretionary effort, which makes for an exceptional, driven employee.
Easing the Way For More Digital Nomads
Of course, there’s a lot more to a digital nomad policy than cutting employees free from a specific city, region or country. Among companies’ top concerns, Dr. Haynes says, are taxes, information security and compliance issues.
“However, remote people management is getting better at offering services that take these worries away from companies,” Dr. Haynes says. “There are now services and apps available for every aspect of the remote working process, such as cross-border health insurance and dealing with taxes.”
Countries are also jumping on board, taking steps to smooth the way. As of early 2022, more than 50 countries offer digital nomad visas, including locales all over the globe, such as Spain, Germany, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Barbados and Norway. For comparison, in 2020, only one digital nomad visa was available worldwide (…….