The lockdowns experienced by most of the world’s population have shown that offices and workspaces can be different to what we have come to expect.  New technologies have allowed people to work from anywhere for many years, but the pandemic has brought about a profound change in the way that we interact professionally.  We all know about the new type of nomad who decides when and how they work – in nature, in warmer climates, at home, or in cafés – always with the same objective: working to live the way that they want.

 

Running from the big city

Big cities like New York, Paris, and London have not been very attractive to workers for a few decades now.  They were already losing their appeal for both companies and workers due to the extremely high cost of renting or buying offices and places to live.  Transport is another problem, with long train, bus, or car commutes needed to get to work.  Therefore, many companies had already relocated to other, more affordable areas.  Start-up Stripe is just one example, with more than 99% of their employees working outside of big cities in 2019.

 

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The biggest increase in remote working in history

The coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, and after a few months into lockdown and working from home, data began to reveal that workers were happy with the new arrangements.  According to one study, they were more comfortable completing their tasks remotely, provided that they had a specific place in which to do so.  Another study in the US found that 83% of business owners and 71% of employees felt the experience was a success.  In a third report, up to 75% of workers stated that they maintained their productivity levels at home.

Most people that were surveyed also said that they were happy with the social interaction they were having with their colleagues.  These figures clearly show that it is possible to work outside the office without sacrificing productivity or worker satisfaction.

 

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Digital nomads: a growing trend

Many were surprised by productivity levels while remote working, but others already knew what it was like and had been taking full advantage of the situation.  These are the digital nomads: people that work from any place in the world that they choose, turning it into a way of life.

One study of digital nomads undertaken in 2020 prior to the pandemic found that 98% of participants intended to continue with their lifestyle, and 97% would recommend it to others, showing the satisfaction that can result from deciding to work autonomously.

Fifty-seven percent of the participants were full-time digital nomads and 80% worked from home, with the second most popular place to work being cafés.  Flexibility in terms of where they work and being able to organise their own workday are what these nomads value most, while loneliness and a lack of interaction with colleagues were the biggest issues.

 

Where do digital nomads work?

This list of exotic places was written by long-term as well as new digital nomads.  It’s is extensive and features places like Aruba or Barbados, which are just a dream for many, as visa requirements and taxes pose a problem.  But other places, like Portugal or the Canary Islands, are more realistic options that, with their sunny weather, low cost of living, and incentives, allow people to work and be on holiday at the same time.

There’s another option, although it’s not for everyone: working amongst nature.  Moving to a rural area can help people make a lifestyle change while also solving the problem of population decline that is happening in many places all over Spain. You don’t have to look very hard to find some options, thanks to Vente a vivir a un pueblo (“Come and live in a village”), a platform that helps answer some frequently asked questions about rural locations: the type of internet connection that’s available, public transport options, the average cost of living, or where the closest medical centre or school is.  This initiative offers 43 places where you can work with the sound of birds chirping in the background while also making sure you have what you need to live and do your job.

 

Workplaces and what we have learned from the pandemic

 Waking up and seeing a forest or a beach outside your window is appealing, but choosing this lifestyle can also benefit others, including sustainability-wise.  Moving to other areas and the decentralisation of cities can help improve local economies.  Globally, it can help reduce our carbon footprint.

According to a Japanese experiment, companies see energy savings of up to 23% when their employees work from home.  In America, workers can save up to $6,500 a year in petrol or public transport costs by remote working.  During lockdown, there was a 50% reduction in pollution in Madrid and Barcelona.

Dubai, Madeira, or a rural Spanish town like A Estrada in Galicia.  All are viable and attractive destinations for many workers that have discovered the upside of working outside of the office.  They might also have noticed what their home or city is lacking.   Being a working nomad is becoming more and more popular all over the world, or it will be once we can cross borders again.