Episode 11: Horizons Broaden for Digital Nomads

by Yvonne Harris

In this episode of Welcome to the New Normal, we discuss why digital nomadism is increasingly popular, with workers, some earning very nicely, taking to the open road, or the high seas, in camper vans, sailing yachts, or simply cruising from city to city to get a taste of a different culture while making sure the paycheques continue to get paid.

Tune in to the Welcome to the New Normal audio podcast now and follow along with the script below.


Digital nomadism is increasingly popular, with workers, some earning very nicely, taking to the open road, or the high seas, in camper vans, sailing yachts, or simply cruising from city to city to get a taste of a different culture while making sure they paycheques continue to get paid.

How would you like to be on the open road?

The great outdoors? A new view every day?

Maybe the waves lapping against the side of a boat moored in a beautiful sunlit bay as you make your team calls and plan your working week?

In the last decade or so, the gig economy, collaboration tools, and growing freelancing marketplaces has given rise to the “nomadic workforce,”

The phenomenon even hit the silver screen this year, with Nomadland winning Best Picture, Best Actress, and a historic Best Director award for Chloe Zhao at this year’s academy awards.

It’s an achingly beautiful film, starring Frances McDormand as Fern, a widow who loses her job and home in a factory town in the wake of the 2008 recession.

Fern sets out on the road and makes a home from her van, finding seasonal gig employment as part of Amazon’s so-called CamperForce program designed for people just like her.

While all signs point to the remote work trend becoming a permanent way of life, it’s inevitable that digital nomadism is likely to grow as well.

And there are plenty of options for digital nomads.

I remember reading years ago, of a software developer who lived in a sailing yacht moored off the coast of California.

Minimal rent, plenty of good bathing, and hopefully a good internet connection…

There are so many stories out there… blogs proliferating of those lucky people who can work remotely, setting out in a camper van, or taking the time to manage a yacht and sail the seven seas while they’re at it.

Now Fern, in Nomadland, drives a beat-up converted utility van from place to place.

But it’s perfectly possible to do it in style and comfort.

Lots of companies are working hard to help digital nomads do it with all the mod cons of a fully equipped office, just minus the massive photocopier…

German company Sunlight has built a prototype workplace that’s modular, and designed to go into mobile homes, vans, and camper vans.

So what do you get?

It’s a multifunctional, foldable table/desk – equipped with an additional screen, charging options (for the smartphone as well as other devices), and additional storage.

It’s a perfect desk away from the office, and arguably something you could also install in a tiny Parisian studio apartment.

I saw them on LinkedIn, with comments from others who’ve converted vehicles, including an old fire truck, into a mobile-home cum office.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’ve got a family, but if you’re feeling brave and you want to see a fresh view every day, why not?


And research by MBO Partners shows that digital nomads in the United States are satisfied with their way of life, whether they’re just popping in on different cities to sample different cultures, or heading out on the road (or sea) for a proper sense of adventure.

According to the research, a stunning 81 percent say they are very satisfied with nomadism.

Most of them are skilled professionals whose jobs allow them to work from anywhere.

And it seems they are doing quite well.

Only a quarter of them reports earning less than $25,000 per year.

And 38 percent say they earn $75,000 or more.

Three-quarters say they are satisfied by what they earn, so long as it can keep them in their chosen lifestyle.

What can we take from this?

Well, MBO Partners seem to think it means that numbers and interest in this way of working are likely to continue, if not grow, in coming years.


45 million

That’s right, a stunning 45 million Americans say they are considering becoming digital nomads

MBO Partners asked adult Americans who aren’t currently digital nomads if they plan on becoming digital nomads over the next 2-3 years and 19 million said yes—an 18 percent increase from 2019—

And 45 million said maybe they would—a 10 percent increase from 2019.

Is this a fad?

Well, like many others, it’s inspired by the VanLife blogs and Youtube videos springing up all over the place.

They’re inspired by the pictures, the stories of faraway places.

And many of these digital nomads seem happy with their lot, they have dogs, they have freedom, and we hope they have good mobile phone reception, few breakdowns, somewhere to do the laundry…

Are you considering becoming a digital nomad?

If so, we’d love to hear from you.

Thanks very much for tuning in. You can follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube for the latest news on the podcast, and don’t forget to subscribe to us on your favorite podcast streaming program.

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