Many countries now give one-year visas to workers that can do their job remotely now. Among them are Barbados, or Estonia. Working from Wi-Fi-connected cottages in Sweden or US has become a lot more attractive since work went digital for many people during the pandemic. There has never been more interest in digital nomadism. Airbnb reported the amount of long-term stays nearly doubled in 2020. One stud shows that the digital-nomad population in the US increased by 50% from 2019 to 2020. Many companies now allow their staff to work remotely indefinitely, and surveys have shown that many people want to continue to work remotely in some way. This can be at home or in a seaside cottage, or even a ranch house outside the expensive city they have been living in before. Now, people don’t live where their work is, but they work where they live.
However exciting and attractive the idea may be, long-term nomads are probably not realistic. Many people want to have homes and know their neighbors. In addition, digital nomadism is a Western phenomenon. Only people with a good passport, no criminal record, and no debt can afford to be digital nomads. Being able to travel the world is a sign on a privileged lifestyle.
In US a study shows that digital nomads are mainly white. They found that one in four white workers are able to work from home, and it is only one in five black workers, and one in six Hispanic workers. Also the education level matters: One in three workers with a bachelor’s degree were able to work from home during the pandemic, and only one in 20 workers with secondary-school education. And even among the well-paid, white, well educated workers, the people who could really become digital nomads are senior level executives. Companies will be more willing to accommodate the powerful employees.
Research shows also that 60-70% of the workforce has no opportunity to work remotely at all. These people cut hair, care for patients, or work in manufactories where they are needed to operate specialized machinery. The only people who can work as digital nomads are white, college-educated, office-based workers.
Experts admit there is a shift towards more digital nomads after the pandemic. However, they say it is most likely that organizations implement a hybrid work schedule that forces workers to come into the office from time to time. If people do relocate, it is therefore probably just a bit further away from the office, but still in commuting distance. There is a trend to spread out to smaller towns and rural areas. Working remotely 100% is a possibility for only a few employees after the pandemic, but it is probably not going to be the new normal.