Digital Nomads are the Pioneers in the New World of Work: Here’s How They Will Survive
What digital nomads or aspiring nomads need to know.
By Elizabeth T.
It's 2018. The world is moving faster than bureaucracy can keep up.
Bureaucracy’s power stems from the concentrated rules set by goal-driven organizations. They create goals based on rational decisions, make resulting rules, and then prioritize methods to achieve their principles.
Renowned 19th Century social theorist Max Weber coined the concept, “the iron cage” as a means to describe this system of rules. A process where there is a definite use to everything—use imposed by humans.
Weber called it an inescapable fate.
We call it modern civilization.
How can humans solve problems when human growth is being limited by respectable bureaucracy?
Cue the digital nomad.
Digital nomads are individuals that can are able to earn their keep wherever they are in the world, usually with the aid of a computer and a WiFi connection. The digital nomad’s use of modern technology is reshaping Weber’s cage. This phenomenon is changing the the world of work as we know it.
For example, in 2016, 43 percent of Americans said they spent time working remotely.
For better or worse, public dissemination of information and collective action influences faster policy making.
Organizations compete for the best talent, creating healthy competition in offering benefits. Individuals can travel through multiple time zones and still do business.
Forget coal mine, digital nomads are the canaries in the revamped iron cage. But like any new frontier, the going can be tough and complex.
Technology is dually causing economic upheaval (automated jobs, longer life spans) and synthesizing hope for economic stability (universal basic income, knowledge-based jobs).
A Sonny and Cher kind of relationship: A lot of good. A lot of messiness. Human potential can expand when bureaucracy loosens its grip, allowing rules to facilitate rather than neutralize aspirations.
Because of technology, more people possess the flexibility in how they prioritize their own lives. It’s an incredible movement, Weber would suggest. But because people possess the option to organize their work lives does not mean they know how to organize it.
What do digital nomads or future digital nomads need to be aware of in transferring over to this lifestyle? Here are a few things to consider.
Stay in touch with your family/fr-amily
When seeing the sights and making new friends, it’s easy to lose touch with your loved ones whilst abroad. Be sure to give Mom/Dad/Aunt/Best Friend a ring from time-to-time. Even though the world is your workplace, there are only a few people that make the world feel like home.
Here are a few digital tools to keep in touch:
Virtual SIM cards
Still in its infancy stages, virtual SIM card technology allows you to move country to country without the hassle of purchasing a local SIM card. Unfortunately because it’s still a new digital tool, it’s just as expensive as roaming. Though be sure to check out Google’s Project Fi, if you’re traveling within the US.
Free WiFi calling and texting apps
Make friends—beyond the nomad community
The digital nomad movement is inclusive and powerful. People from all over the world travel and time-zone hop as digital nomads. You’ll make friends with colorful characters and begin hanging out, establishing favorite bars and beaches, and making a community of disparate roamers. But be sure to reach out to locals. Digital nomads often fall into living in the bubble whilst in the company of other nomads. Be part of the place you’re visiting temporarily. Attend events, workshops regarding your profession, and expat activities to cast a wider social net. It’s important to not only be nice to the local people and clean up after yourself (make Mom proud), but to make friends with different groups of people as a nomad.
Check out these group activity apps for inspiration:
Do research on living locally
Part of roaming is understanding what you’re seeing and experiencing. Read up on the country history, customs, and politics. Not only will this give you Good World Citizen points, you’ll be able to have thoughtful discussions on changes or concerns. Sure, you’ll be gaining a richer experience
as an informed visitor, but you’ll also be doing a really important service to yourself: saving time and money. Head to Twitter and follow your favorite nomads to gain insights. Find books about exactly how to live in a country. These types of books contain information on local transport, finding the least expensive way to live in a place, or how local insurance works. Whilst a nomad, the world is at your feet. Be sure know how to handle it if problems arise on the road.
Read these inexpensive guides (or similar e-books) on how successfully live (and work) abroad:
- How to Move to and Live in Germany: : Everything You Need to Know
- The Ultimate Guide for Moving to Bali
- The Gringo Guide to Panama II: More to Know Before You Go
Figure out your tax situation
Eek. Taxes. Digital nomads need to do their taxes too. As famous inventor, Benjamin France once said, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”. Reach out to your tax advisor to help you navigate. Buy accessible software, like TurboTax, to help you organize your record keeping. Keep a smart sheet of all invoices you send as you travel. Additionally, head to Reddit and check out the Digital Nomad group. Plenty of people to ask about tax questions as they arise.
Check out these helpful links to support your tax organizing:
Back up your computer
Your computer is your bread and butter. If anything happens to it, you may be in serious trouble. Save yourself the sweat, angst, and expense: back up your computer files. When backing up files in the cloud, your documents can be easily accessed from any computer. If anything occurs, you’ll be thanking yourself for the effort.
For Mac Users, a step-by-step guide (with photos): click here!
For Windows Users, check out this how-to: click here!
Keep copies of important documents
Create both hard and digital copies of your passport, birth certificate, proof of insurance, and healthcare information. Keep hard copies stored in a safe place wherever you stay. If your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll be able to head to your local embassy to sort the matter out much easier. In addition to paper copies, be sure to make digital prints. You can store them on a USB stick, the cloud, or even in your email inbox. Simply mail and attach copies of the documents to yourself. If you’re in trouble, you simply have to access your email and search for the document-containing email. You’ll be able to pull up your documents without worry.
Technology offers individuals more freedom than Weber could even imagine. People possess more freedom in how they work, where they conduct their business from, and allows them to prioritize their life values. As writer Anais Nin once wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”.
Technology is reshaping Weber’s cage, allowing people more autonomy in their lives. It takes courage to create it. At Freework, we support freelancers in navigating this new world of work. Our accessible-from-everywhere, any device platform finally gives freelancers the freedom and flexibility they need.