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Digital Nomad

Supporting freedom: How to invest in a digital nomad.

By:

DATE: July 24, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • The digital nomad lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular as technology and the freelance economy advance.
  • Manager support is essential when an employee wishes to become a digital nomad.
  • Being a digital nomad offers numerous benefits, from physical and mental health gains to financial freedom and career progression.
  • Balancing work and leisure as a digital nomad can be challenging but rewarding.
  • Companies are now offering flexible working options for digital nomads, allowing them to travel without disrupting their careers.

It's hard to believe that the digital nomad lifestyle is only in its infancy. Just a few years ago, the thought of working from anywhere in the world was nothing more than a pipe dream for most people. But with advances in technology and the ever-growing freelance economy, this way of life is becoming more and more popular. In fact, our Future of Work research revealed that at least 60% of employees of all ages and seniority levels want to work remotely as “digital nomads” within the next 1–3 years. Of those, over 50% prefer a 6–12 month timeframe—70% for the 56+ age group. The results from our LinkedIn polls indicated the intent to become a digital nomad was even higher, at 72%.

As the digital nomad lifestyle gains popularity and management becomes more accepting, it's helpful to learn from teams that have forged this path before. In this article, we'll gain insights from Aquent Talent's Brandon Archambault, a seasoned digital nomad, and his manager, Maggie Keeton. Discover Brandon's journey to living and managing a life of location independence, the benefits of the digital nomad lifestyle, and Maggie's perspective on supporting digital nomads.

Happiness is a key ingredient for career success

As the world becomes more connected and technology evolves, more people are becoming digital nomads, and it's no surprise why. Being a digital nomad allows for greater flexibility, freedom, and control over one's life and work. This freedom can lead to greater levels of happiness and improved mental health. Digital nomads can immerse themselves in different cultures, learn new things, and experience life in a unique way. By breaking from the monotony of a traditional work schedule and immersing yourself in different cultures, you can unlock the secret to a happier life as a digital nomad.

While this may seem a little too good to be true, Maggie can confirm that she has seen the benefits firsthand. “Brandon is living his best life,” says Maggie. “He's rarely stressed and always has such a positive attitude. I think it really comes from him having the freedom to travel and live the digital nomad lifestyle. And that translates into his success at work.” It's not just her perspective either; Brandon was a top-performing Direct Hire Consultant last year. 

Getting on board and supporting them as a manager

A manager's support is vital when an employee expresses a desire to become a digital nomad. This support involves having an open mind and being willing to explore alternatives to traditional work setups. If a manager agrees to a digital nomad arrangement reluctantly and then makes the employee feel like an inconvenience rather than a valued member of the team, it's never going to work. Having an open and honest discussion upfront about the arrangement is one of the best ways to make sure everyone is on the same page. Some topics to discuss include:

  • Work location (for tax purposes).
  • Technology requirements / connectivity.
  • Information security and privacy.
  • Employee benefits coverage while traveling.
  • Time zones / working hours.
  • Communication methods.
  • Handling emergencies.

This conversation can highlight ways that managers can help employees transition into the digital nomad lifestyle by providing the tools they need to remain productive and helping remove obstacles that might be in the way of their success. The transition to a remote or digital nomad work environment brings new challenges, and a supportive manager can help mitigate these challenges and ensure a positive transition.

“When Brandon first asked me if I was okay with him being a digital nomad, I enthusiastically agreed, but I didn't really understand what being a digital nomad was or how it would actually work,” shared Maggie. “So I jumped in quickly and learned more, and we figured out together how this could work in our team and for his role.”

Meanwhile, Brandon sold his house, bought a van, and was on his way. Brandon explains, “Maggie has been great right from the start. She's stayed flexible and made sure I had all of the resources I needed to be successful.” While Brandon attributes his success in taking the leap as a digital nomad to Maggie's unwavering support, she credits it to Brandon's tenacity.

Maggie also explained that despite operating in a high-stress position, Brandon has flourished. His joyous attitude has not only helped him connect better with clients but has also been a positive influence on his teammates. Exploring the mountains of Costa Rica was more than just beautiful sights; it also provided him with inspiration, allowing him to return to the team with a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Benefits of being a digital nomad

The lifestyle of work and travel offers numerous benefits, from physical and mental health gains to financial freedom and career progression. It helps individuals to increase independence, build self-confidence, and develop resilience. Successfully navigating new environments and tasks provides a strong sense of accomplishment.

Living and working in various parts of the world offers unique perspectives that are hard to come by when staying in one place. You get to meet new people, learn about different cultures, and develop creative problem-solving skills. The experience takes you out of your comfort zone and shows you places you may have never seen before.

Balancing work and leisure as a digital nomad

Striking the right balance between work and leisure can be a tough challenge. Despite what some may think, Brandon said he tends to lean toward working more. He explains, “It can be hard as an extrovert because when you're on the road, it can feel really lonely sometimes; particularly if you wind up in rural areas with no one around. And then there's the decision fatigue that comes from having to make small decisions every single day—everything from finding a safe place to sleep, where to work, where to find bathrooms / showers, where to go next, where to fill up your water tanks, etc. When you're stationary and in a routine, it's easy to forget how much energy decision-making can take.”

It goes without saying that being a digital nomad is not for everyone, but Brandon has found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. Balancing leisure and work can be tricky, but when done right, you can get the most out of both. Brandon recommends always trying to make the most of your leisure time. That could be backpacking, summiting a mountain or a national park, or heading down to the beach in Mexico. You just have to be willing to take on the challenge and go for it.

The next steps

Digital nomads are ushering in a new era of work, where location is no longer a limiting factor. With technology advances facilitating remote work, digital nomads are taking advantage of the opportunity to explore while continuing to work and grow professionally. As companies like Aquent move away from traditional office settings and offer more flexible ways of working, digital nomads are taking the leap to travel and gain all it has to offer without disrupting their careers. With success stories like Brandon and Maggie, it's clear that the digital nomad lifestyle is here to stay when it comes to the future of work.