In recent times, there have been many changes in the way we work and do business. One of these changes is the four-day workweek being deemed a success in one of the most progressive countries: Iceland. And some countries are exploring this option too and might soon follow suit. And there is another work-related trend that is growing; this is the digital nomad lifestyle.
If you’ve heard about the term “digital nomad” before then, you can probably imagine people on their laptops in coworking establishments in Bali or at a beachside villa in Mexico. These people who are called digital nomads are living their best lives: working while traveling the world. Interest in this lifestyle is increasing, but what is the current state of this lifestyle?
What Is a Digital Nomad?
Before we go further, let’s first look at what “digital nomad” means. In layman’s terms, they use technologies—mostly laptops—to do remote work and travel and live wherever they choose, hence the “digital nomad” lifestyle. Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners were the first users of the term in their 1997 book named “Digital Nomad.”
According to 2021 statistics, there are around 10,900,000 digital nomads worldwide as of 2021, and it will continue to grow in the next few years. The expected growth of people working remotely and identifying as digital nomads is due to the desire for a work and life balance and, of course, response to the pandemic.
The Current State of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Being a digital nomad has many advantages. One of them is being in control of your life, for the most part, because being a remote worker gives you flexibility with your work hours. It also gives you a lot of freedom to be on the road, meet new people, discover new places, learn about different cultures, and save money.
Like most things, there are disadvantages to the digital nomad lifestyle, too. Most people living this kind of life will find it hard to sustain a life without health care, fixed income, paid holidays, and many more. And there are other problems that the digital nomad community is currently facing; those are the pandemic and the climate crisis, to name a few.
The Digital Nomad Lifestyle During The Pandemic
Since 2014, there has been a steady growth of people interested in the digital nomad lifestyle based on Google searches. Who wouldn’t be? After all, there is so much to explore in the world. It is very tempting to work remotely without worrying about your finances.
In the US alone, there was a 50% increase in the number of people who started working remotely in 2020. Because of some travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, digital nomads became reduced to just remote workers in their own homes. But, as more countries are reopening and easing restrictions, 17 million people are still looking into joining the digital nomad club.
The Digital Nomad Lifestyle During the Climate Crisis
The pandemic is one of the many crises the world is facing today to the point that it has reshaped most of our lifestyles into something that we’ve gotten comfortable calling the “new normal.” It has created an exodus of workers from their office jobs and has increased people’s interest in the digital nomad lifestyle, even if the pandemic isn’t declared over yet. But, there is another problem that might affect the future of this lifestyle, and that is climate change.
Unlike the pandemic, which some experts predict to be over when we reach herd immunity, the predictions for the current climate crisis aren’t as optimistic. More scientists are confident that it will only continue to get worse. So, how does this affect the digital nomad lifestyle?
Since most digital nomads travel a lot to different destinations by flying, their carbon footprint is high. Air travel is a significant factor in the worsening climate crisis. So, while it is exciting to live in new exotic places every other month, being a digital nomad and flying all the time isn’t sustainable.
The Future of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
As mentioned, the number of digital nomads will continue to grow to the point that the current numbers of digital nomads will grow to reach a staggering one billion by 2035. But these projections are based on recent research and the current trend. The pandemic may not have slowed the number of people becoming digital nomads or being interested in the lifestyle. Still, it will be difficult to tell what the future holds, especially as we are just on the brink of a tipping point of the climate crisis.