Digital Nomads: from the poolside to the mainstream
Remote working meant seismic change for businesses everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. Because a number of workers and companies had long embraced the idea of ‘Digital Nomadism’. And suddenly, these outliers were no longer living in parallel to society; instead, they were at the vanguard of a transformation in the way we work.
Who are these people? Where are the jetting off to? And what jobs do they do?
Using Pulsar TRAC, we analysed the conversation around digital nomads across the equivalent period in three years: 2016, 2019 and 2022.
The number of people identifying as or talking about digital nomads fell steeply from 2016 to 2019. Social data suggests several possible reasons, including a gradual disenfranchisement from the heyday of 2016:
Most digital nomads I know settled down after a few years 👨🚀
Unless you have close nomadic friends, it gets lonely 🤷♂️
Awesome weather doesn’t make up for friends & family 🤗#remotewok locally + occasional trips feels more durable to me.
— Rodolphe Dutel (@rdutel) March 3, 2019
At the same time, the term ‘digital nomads’ was also becoming more contentious culturally, used either politically to take aim at an unrooted ‘elite’, and also to stereotype all manners of grifters and trustafarians.
He writes about people changing jobs regularly as if it's been created by demand, entirely driven by arrogant digital nomads, who don't want any ties and think they're citizens of the world.
— Chris Brosnahan (@ChrisBrosnahan) February 23, 2019
As a direct result, many individuals who displayed the behaviors and lifestyles of a traditional digital nomad began far more reluctant to describe themselves as such, for fear of association.
The pandemic, or more accurately the normalization of non-office working, subsequently delivered a shot in the arm to a trend that had begun to lose a little lustre. But the most interesting things about this resurgence were the people and topics driving it. Co-working, for instance, does not appear to have gained any traction in this time, given the fact that international co-working hubs were subject to many of the same restrictions workers faced in their own countries.
Instead, we see the increased participation in the wider trend of eco-conscious tech workers, who don’t simply wish to see the world, but wish to do so ethically and with a minimum of environmental harm. While this group first emerged in 2019, it would help define the conversation taking place some three years later, in the post pandemic boom.
We also see the emergence of an entirely new group: Crypto Nomads. These individuals are wholehearted adopters of crypto and web 3.0 technologies, similar to many other similar groups to have emerged from 2021 onwards, except that their affinity is as much defined by utility, and easier transfers, as it is by investing behaviors.
In addition to who’s doing the travelling, it’s also illuminating to see where it is people are going, which we can do by exploring the interactive visual below:
So apparently, there’s a visa type that European embassies offer. 👀
If it is Croatia, you’re exempted from tax.
Greece and Spain are also lenient.
It is called “Digital Nomad Visa”
Crypto bros, tech bros, web3 Maxis.
I honestly don’t know what you’re waiting for.
— 👑°S.A.L.A.K.O™🕊 (@UnkleAyo) March 30, 2022
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