Out of Office: the Era of Digital Nomads

Photo credit Joschko Hammerman

Photo credit Joschko Hammerman

The way how we are working and how we want to work is changing. We are shifting away from living to work, to live fulfilling lives driven by our passion and work is simply part of that.

We realize that we have a choice of what kind of work we do and how we do it. Not lead by expectations of our surroundings or a 9 to 5 approach, but lead by who we are, our inner drive.

Freelance work is gaining traction and more people are considering this dynamic lifestyle. Combine this with technology and other developments that lower the barriers that once made independent contracting much more challenging, and the trend is not to stop.

You even see that people not only freelance but combine freelance work while traveling, the so called digital nomads. Live wherever they feel like living for some time and then move further.

Photo credit Manny Pantoja

Photo credit Manny Pantoja

The growing trend

Approximately 57 million Americans were freelancing in 2017. That number is expected to keep growing at a steady pace, which means that over half of American's will be freelancing by 2027, according to an article in Forbes.

Freelancers are prevalent in a range of sectors, from writers and artists to web developers, science and engineering technicians. These jobs have one thing in common: it only takes a computer and an internet connection to be able to get to work. We can work anywhere, at any time.

And that is what we are going to do according to Pieter Levels, the founder of Nomadlist, in his article 'The future of digital nomads'. According to his prediction, in 2035, there’s going to be 9 billion people (Population Pyramid, 2105), of which 50% of those will be freelancers. That’s 3 billion people, and then 1 in 3 is going to be a remote worker, or a so-called digital nomad, which is 1 billion digital nomads.

Photo credit Johnson Wang

Photo credit Johnson Wang

How it started

This trend not only started by a change in our inner needs. It also got fueled by developments in technology, from devices, apps, and other personal technology that let us communicate with one another from virtually everywhere. There are now more opportunities to work remotely than ever before.

Two other developments play a large role as well—platforms designed to match companies with talent and the rise of co-working spaces across the globe.

In the future new developments in the airline industry, the educational system and how cities are built, will even further grow this way of working and living.

Escape the City is a company that tries to inspire people to do work they love. They are on a mission to change the world of work because how you spend your days is how you spend your life. They’re a global community of people who believe that life’s too short to do work that doesn’t matter to you. And that doing something different is possible. They help you to find unique jobs around the world, give career advice or help you start a business.


Co-working spaces and programs facilitate community-sense

It’s not uncommon for independent workers to feel isolated, or getting distracted when working at home. Co-working spaces, like Tribes , ImpactHub and WeWork, are tapping into this need.

They offer a place for social gathering of a group of people who are working independently, share similar values and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working alongside each other.

Forbes listed the most beautiful co-working spaces in the world selected out of 4000 co-working spaces in 105 countries.

Photo credit Zoku Amsterdam

Photo credit Zoku Amsterdam

Another trend is the rise of co-working or digital nomad retreats and programs. These retreats go even further in facilitating community-sense and connection among like-minded people than co-working spaces.

Digital nomad retreats, or co-working retreats, are increasingly growing in popularity, with more companies promoting it as a travel experience.

People can often join for two weeks or a month. They have the opportunity to work together, network, learn and travel, all facilitated and organized by these digital nomad retreats. Remoteyear and Beunsettled are two of them.

The most popular locations currently for digital nomads are Chiang Mai, Lisbon, Bali, and Mexico. Nomadlist provides a quick overview of the best cities to live and work remotely, based on the cost of living, internet speed, weather, and other metrics.

Photo credit Beunsettled

Photo credit Beunsettled

Whereas many combine travel and work to have fun, earn money and connect, there are a couple of more meaningful co-working programs that also focus on making a difference.

Impact Nomads Kenya

Impact Nomads is one of them. An innovative concept not only by its location in the beautiful coastal town of Kilifi, in Kenya but also by bringing together like-minded, skilled people who want to make a difference. Together they work on co-creating impactful solutions for local organizations with a great mission. In this way leaving a positive footprint and creating value.

They, for example, work together with local initiatives like Plastiki Rafiki, The FlipFlopi to reduce plastic waste and The Food Movement that focuses on growing food in a sustainable way, empowering local farmers and being a hub of creativity for different artists.

Participants can work together with these companies on a challenge that they would like to have solved and in this way help in realizing the organizations' mission.

Photo credit FlipFlopi Plastic Revolution

Photo credit FlipFlopi Plastic Revolution

Another program that combines work with a more volunteering approach is 22stars foundation. You can join them for 10 days and explore Uganda and help the 22stars foundation with your expertise. Nomads Giving Back will inspire digital nomads to give back to local communities.

So if you’re looking for a way to combine work, travel and giving back the above programs are a great way in doing so.


How do you organize your work? Do you do work that you are really passionate about? We would love to hear your thoughts and any tips! You can leave your comments below.