The nomadic worker revolution in the digital economy

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Some workers in the tech field, tired of spending every day of their life in the same cubicle or city, risked leaving everything behind to dedicate themselves to travel and see new places, without stopping working. But… Is it possible to work and travel at the same time? Well, apparently yes, to the point that, today, it has become a worldwide movement known as "nomadic workers".

But what exactly are these nomadic workers?

Well, prepared people, generally in some technological field (engineers, programmers, etc.) or who exercise a profession framed within the so-called digital economy, who decide to work traveling the world for a time. Arguably there are two types of nomadic workers:

  • The digital nomads o e-nomads: that take advantage of the possibilities offered by the Internet and new technologies to work remotely while traveling. In general, these workers have some clients or "satellite" companies that guarantee them a more or less fixed monthly income sufficient to live and for which they can work remotely, connecting from homes, cafeterias, public libraries, spaces of coworking and, in short, anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection that offers enough connection quality to work remotely.
  • The so-called knowmads: term coined by John Moravec, editor of the Knowmad Society project, co-director of the Invisible Learning project and founder of Education Futures LLC, which comes from the combination of the English words know (knowledge) and nomad (nomadic) and refers to highly skilled itinerant workers who take their knowledge where it is needed or simply wherever they want. Moravec defines them as “nomadic workers of knowledge and innovation”.

In any case, on occasions, knowmads They can also work as digital nomads and even combine both activities at the same time.

What is your profile?

They are qualified persons, if a certain age and without social or family chargesEither because they do not have them or because their children are older and do not depend on them. This is basically due to the intrinsic characteristics of this type of work. Continuously or periodically changing your site requires courage, a lot of energy, and having nothing to lose.

Continuously traveling can be exhausting and create some stress if not managed properly, so a young person or one not so young but “with a young spirit”, with energy and passion for what they do, it will take much better.

On the other hand, spending so much time away from your partner and family, especially if you have small children, can be very hard, hence it is common for people who embark on this type of nomadic life to lack family responsibilities. Once underway, that continuous change does not allow, in most cases, to establish solid ties with someone or form a family, since you do not get to be in the same place long enough for that; except in the case of nomadic couples, in which both members of the couple travel together.

Profile of digital nomads o e-nomads

In the case of digital nomads are usually owners of their own business, entrepreneurs or self-employed (freelance) who can carry out their work from practically anywhere, as long as they have an Internet connection.

Many young bloggers fall into this category. Some started with a small blog as a hobby and now have their own company with several employees. Most of them take advantage of their travels as a source of information for their websites, but there are also workers from other fields.

In general, the profiles of this type of worker are very varied: writers, programmers, graphic designers, translators, e-learning teachers, consultants ...; and, ultimately, any profession in the new digital economy that can make use of new technologies to work remotely and travel at the same time.

They are usually people flexible, highly adaptable and capable of value the feeling of freedom that gives them the power to self-manage their time and work.

Some also use this modality of remote work to live or spend seasons in countries or regions where they can enjoy a good quality of life for a more affordable price than in the big cities where the companies for which they are usually found can be found. they work.

It is increasingly common to find nomadic couples and groups of nomadic friends who travel together or meet each other in agreed places. to avoid the feeling of loneliness inherent in this type of work and of which many complain.

Profile of nomads of knowledge o knowmads

In the case of knowmads, instead, there is something specific that differentiates them and it is their personal knowledge and experience, combined with a series of innate and learned skills, among which are great creativity and the ability to adapt and solve problems, which allows them to contribute their knowledge and the ability to create something new and innovative wherever they go.

Raquel Roca, journalist, digital consultant and analyst of the future of work and author of the book "KNOWMADS: The workers of the future" defines these workers as people:

  • Innovative, imaginative and creative.
  • Sociable and social, who believe in the sum of knowledge and skills through collaboration; and able to work as a team with virtually anyone and in any circumstance, time and place.
  • Flexible, with a great capacity for adaptation and problem solving.
  • Than value the freedom to self-manage their time and work; and at the same time responsible for themselves and disciplined in such management.
  • Able to take full advantage of new technologies.
  • Ready for lifelong learning and also to unlearn, when necessary, in an unconventional way.

To these characteristics, some more could be added:

  • They are curious people, who they devour information and transform it into knowledge.
  • They do not see their profession as a job, but as their passion: the knowmads They tend to do something they are passionate about, so they don't see what they do as work. Their motivation is not economic, but they are directed towards what fulfills them. They seek self-realization and the economic income they obtain for it is only a consequence.
  • They are not afraid of failure: to the knowmads they like to learn and discover new things. It is that curiosity and desire for knowledge, precisely, that leads them to a process of continuous experimentation, trial, error and learning. Hence, students do not see failure as something negative, but only as another step in the learning process.

The profile of knowmads today is mainly technological (engineers, programmers ...), although there are also other sectors.

A knowmad You arrive at a site when your knowledge is needed and you leave when you have nothing else to contribute or because you believe that your knowledge will be more useful elsewhere. At the same time it learns from its experience in the different places it passes through.

This modality of itinerant workers who go from company to company, through different countries, working on projects or as temporary workers, contributing their knowledge at a specific time, They favor the exchange of ideas and information with other professionals, speeding up innovation and giving rise to new products, services, etc.; that probably wouldn't emerge without this collaboration.

Nomadic workers as workers of the future

Raquel Roca presents in her book knowmads as the workers of the future. Various studies warn that over the next few years, robots, autonomous vehicles and, in general, all technology related to robotics and artificial intelligence will overturn the job market around the world, by replacing humans in numerous jobs. We will all have to renew or fail.

In this sense, only those people with specialized knowledge and that cannot be carried out by a robot or artificial intelligence system will be able to survive on that stage and that's where the knowmads they will reach their peak and become the norm.

According to Roca, 45% of the workforce in 2020 will consist of knowmadsand companies and labor laws in different countries will have to adapt to accommodate and cover them.

Currently, large companies have, for the most part, very rigid internal structures in which it is not easy for a knowmad lace, hence this type of nomadic workers move mainly in the world of startups, much more flexible and capable of truly assessing the capabilities of this new worker profile.

As for nomadic workers in general, both digital nomads and knowmads, they often run into numerous bureaucratic problems related to work visas, health insurance, taxes, etc.

In this sense, it is necessary for governments to adapt their legislation to accommodate and legal coverage for this type of worker that change and move so quickly, especially if they aim to strengthen and boost their digital economies.

Where to find other nomadic workers

As their number increases various meeting spaces have emerged in which these nomadic workers can meet other nomads, share experiences, ask for help or advice from expert nomads, set up meeting places or simply chat with someone with common interests, even through the Internet.

These are some of their meeting spaces:

  • Various groups on Meetup: Various groups or meetups have been created, both of digital nomads and of knowmads.
  • A Slack channel: hashtagnomads is a subscription channel created by Pieter Levels, a nomadic Dutch website developer, on the communication platform Slack. Its aim is that nomadic workers can communicate with each other, for example, to recommend coworking spaces or accommodation, or to organize meet-ups.
  • A community created on the Ning platform: nomadwork, which is defined as a web community for nomadic workers and coworking enthusiasts.
  • Nomad Forum: It is a Forum for nomadic workers, ideal for raising doubts and questions or solving those of others.
  • Where my nomads at: a free tool created by two nomads from Vienna, Isabella Burket and Fabian Bartsch, in which it is possible to see, on a world map, the position of any member nomad worker. Ideal to meet other nomads and to make your position known at all times to family and friends.
  • A Reddit community: There is a specialized community for digital nomads on Reddit that currently has more than 20,000 readers. It's called Digital Nomad and it's ideal for asking other nomads. It also offers an interesting list of resources.

It has even been held recently the DNX Digital Nomad Conference, a congress of nomadic workers which took place in the city of Bangok, in Thailand, from February 29 to March 2, 2020.

Where can companies find nomadic workers and vice versa?

There are some websites specialized in this type of work. In them, interested companies can find and hire this type of talent, while nomadic workers can search for jobs. Here are some of them:

  • Working Nomads: is a website specialized in this type of work. In it, companies can publish their offers and workers can find a careful selection of remote work classified by categories, mostly of technological profile.
  • Remote OK: website specialized in remote work for nomadic workers. As in the previous one, companies can publish their offers. Jobs are also classified by categories, but in this case there is a specific category for non-tech jobs. Workers can also find a list of startups They work remotely and view a listing of the highest paying jobs.
  • Jobbatical: a website specialized in temporary job offers in startupsfor knowmadswho want to travel the world contributing their knowledge in different companies.

You can see a complete list of sites here (in English).

Other resources for nomadic workers

  • Nomadic Notes: a really interesting website, created by James Clark, an Australian nomad who has spent years traveling the world, in which a whole series of resources for nomadic workers are collected, from travel guides, tips or listings of coworking spaces and connected cafes Wi-fi from which to work, to websites specialized in job offers for nomadic workers, information on events and meetings, courses, books, communities and forums, blogs of other nomads, etc. In short, everything that a nomadic worker may need in his day to day and with reliable information, since it is based on Clark's own experience and that of other nomads.
  • Digital Nomads Jobs: a specialized portal for nomadic workers. Their guides to various destinations and articles explaining how to become a nomad in each profession are especially interesting: programmer, designer, translator ...
  • Nomadlist: a guide to cities around the world classified according to their climate, monthly cost of living, air quality, quality of Internet connection, number of spaces in coworking or cafes from which it is possible to work, level of security as a woman, etc.

Keep reading:

  • The 10 best cities in the world to live and work remotely
  • 20 Tools to run a business remotely
  • Alicante among the 10 best places in the world to live
  • 5 countries to live in for less than € 350 per month

Video: Robotics - Impacting the workplace 1


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