Digital nomadism was already on the rise before COVID caused it to surge to the forefront of the world’s work routine. So how has the pandemic affected the way we work?
One of the most significant ways the digital nomad trend during COVID has changed is that guests at hotels, especially Airbnbs are booking longer stays. This makes sense if you remember that these are more of “work-cations” than traditional vacations. People plan on spending at least some of the time at their Airbnb working, so it makes sense they’d book longer stays, so they have more overall time to enjoy their stay. It also means they have a more stable work environment since even a self-proclaimed digital nomad can find it hard to concentrate on work if they’re changing homes every 24 hours.
In the time of COVID, this has also meant booking stays long enough to suit quarantine requirements. So, for example, those flying to the UK from Amber List countries until recently were required to quarantine for ten days.
Increased (Limited) Freedom
The digital nomad lifestyle has struck a chord with people for its relative freedom. It’s nice not to have to go into an office every day and waste countless hours every month trapped on a commute to and from a 9 to 5 job. Digital nomadism allows you to work where you want and (to an extent) when you want, making for a more accessible work schedule than ever before.
However, as pointed out, this freedom is not as universal as it may first appear. For one thing, you have to be able actually to afford all of those Airbnbs and flights. For another, you need a good passport, and you need to be cleared to fly and get a visa – something much harder for those with past legal troubles, even minor, nonviolent drug offenses.
It assumes your job can convert to a digital nomad lifestyle, which many executives have said isn’t true for at least 60% to 70% of the US workforce. As noted by the Economic Policy Institute, availability to work from home or as a digital nomad during COVID can also carry a racial component: you’re more likely to be able to do this as a white worker (one in four of those surveyed) than a Black worker (one in five) or Hispanic worker (one in six).
International Employers and Employees
If you cannot work remotely for your present employer, you might consider looking abroad. Digital nomadism is on the rise in large part because it’s easier than ever to work online for a company outside of your country. This has allowed digital nomads during COVID to perform vital services for clients in other countries.
There is a vast market in China, Russia, and other countries with significant English-learner populations for native English speakers (especially those officially qualified and trained) for online English teaching jobs. Conversely, there are many jobs for digital content creation, blog writing, editing, programming, and other jobs tuned into the online sphere. With everyone at home during COVID, we’re spending more time online than ever, increasing the demand for careers dealing with the online world.
While it remains to be seen how lasting these changes are, there’s no denying the digital nomad life has been one of the most interesting subplots to the employment side of the ongoing COVID crisis.