Three Myths About Hitting the Road as a Digital Nomad
July 16, 2021 by Lee Mulkowsky
Many professionals, even those who are part of the new-normal, work-from-anywhere army, tend to keep to a home base of some sort when working. After all, as a group, humans tend to like some measure of predictability and routine.
But not everyone.
For “digital nomads,” an everyday work spot can just as easily be a cafe or coffee shop as it can a train, plane, or even the front seat of a parked car. Such a lifestyle sounds both daunting and dreamy, and of course, myths about it abound.
In this piece, we lay out three of the top misconceptions — as well as the truth — about being a digital nomad.
It’s a nonstop holiday
When the average person hears about a professional who works from the beach in a bathing suit, the first image that comes to mind is likely not that of a hard worker, toiling away for every dollar earned. But perhaps it should be.
“[M]any … equate the [digital nomad] phenomenon to a life of pure leisure,” Rachael A. Woldoff and Robert C. Litchfield write in an op-ed for MarketWatch.com. “In contrast, we frequently observed digital nomads working as many or more hours than in their former lives in order to successfully reinvent themselves as freelancers and entrepreneurs. … Although many do not count it as work, digital nomads also spend significant time networking, building skills, and working on professional development endeavors.”
It lowers productivity
Writing a report from a bar while sipping a glass of wine at happy hour? There’s no way your quality — or quantity — of work is good, or even up to par, right? Well, not necessarily.
“In fact, nomads (and their employers) enjoy many of the same benefits as remote workers, including higher productivity, satisfaction, and retention,” author Dan Schawbel writes in a recent piece for LinkedIn.com. “However, while remote workers typically remain in the confines of their own homes, nomads benefit from changing their scenery, which improves work-life balance, health, and creativity.”
Just as it’s up to the 9-to-5 office worker whether they want to work or ‘play,’ so, too, is the same choice up to the digital nomad. So that professional working from the bar may well be putting more in (and getting more out) of their job than an employee in a cubicle at HQ.
Sure, working while traveling across the globe or country may be doable, but no one intends to do it permanently — right? Actually, wrong. For some people, working on the go is the new home office, and they plan to do some version of it until retirement.
While “most digital nomads will slow down in terms of the speed of travel after a while and only change places every couple of months, maybe twice a year … [b]eing a digital nomad is not a gap year,” Denise Mai writes in a piece for digitalnomadsoul.com. “It’s not a phase. It’s a way of living. People decide consciously on this lifestyle because they value the benefits and can manage the downsides.”