Digital nomads take their web- and technology-based businesses to distant (often more inexpensive) lands, working remotely and keeping regular hours. Because their jobs don’t require their physical presence, digital nomads use their laptops as their offices and set up shop from wherever they happen to be in the world.
Embraced as a way to work while seeing the world, digital nomadism has evolved into a lifestyle enabled by the normalization of remote employment.
But jet setting to a Pacific island to spend your days in beachside cafes and your evenings exploring isn’t just for programmers and developers. While professionals with jobs that explicitly deal in internet technology (web design, online marketing, software development) were some of the pioneers of digital nomadism, this lifestyle is becoming a feasible option for professionals in a wider variety of fields.
No industry has been untouched by the advent of internet technology. But as a larger proportion of the tasks for which the general workforce is responsible becomes mediated by digital platforms, professionals in all sorts of fields are theoretically able to work entirely remotely. This means that digital nomadism is becoming possible for more workers across more professions, including those employed full-time at companies, business owners, doctors, and lawyers.
Remote services in a changing market
There is a lucrative market for business models that revolve around using digital platforms to offer services that were once rendered mostly in person.
For example, recruiting twenty years ago necessitated often being in the same room as candidates. Today, the focus on face-to-face interactions in recruitment has waned as much of the work involved in scouting talent has moved to social networks and other digital platforms. Other professions like mental health counseling, tutoring, and even law are other examples of industries experiencing a shift towards more digital communication between customer and service provider.
Influencer marketing also has an impact on diverse industries. Entrepreneurs in most any sector from make-up to food to fitness need not be tied to any permanent location as long as they are creating and sharing successful content as they move about the globe. In this sense, digital nomadism can even become part of a company’s brand and a central theme in their content marketing strategy.
It may just be a matter of time before digital nomadism, or at least a lite-version of the lifestyle, is a possibility for professionals in almost any line of knowledge-based work.
Digital nomadism for all?
Remote work is steadily losing its status as a privilege and becoming a standard working arrangement for a wide variety of careers. Your line of work is no longer the most decisive factor in determining whether or not you travel while working, whether as a full-time globetrotter or an occasional workcationer. Instead, factors like company culture, business model, and customer expectations may play a bigger role in determining whether a knowledge employee can do their job remotely.
Nearly half of U.S. based employees are already regularly working remotely in at least some capacity, and the number of employees working exclusively at home has increased 140 percent since 2005. All signs point to these trends continuing in the coming decade, and their growth is a twin to the growing numbers of digital nomads.
But is digital nomadism really the future of work?
Digitalization may be moving quickly, but as it stands, not everyone’s job can be attended to 100% remotely. And for many people, the thought of combining full-time travel with full-time work isn’t appealing even if it were possible. Furthermore, there are concerns about the sustainability of this location-independent lifestyle for the often post-colonial nations to which crowds of mostly first-world digital nomads tend to flock.
While social media and the blogosphere may perpetuate a highly romanticized vision of location-independent employment as a future-oriented philosophy of work/life balance, it would be rash to say most professionals doing knowledge-based work are eventually going to trade in their offices for a one-way ticket to Bali.
The growing number of digital nomads, and the growing number of industries for which digital nomadism is now an option, is perhaps best understood as an exception that proves the rule: the relationship between location and work is changing, and this change is forging new paths within the mainstream (work from home, remote teams) as well as on the periphery (digital nomadism).
In 2018, some 4.8 million Americans self-described as digital nomads, and another 17 million aspired to this identity. If you are one of those 17 million who are eager to use the wider world as your office, here are eleven professions that could open doors for you:
About the Author: Alex North is an American content marketer and translator living in Germany.