The extraordinary rise of the digital nomad

Reading time:  3 Minutes

The number of full-time employees who described themselves as digital nomads doubled in 2020. How does flexspace and hybrid working meet the needs of this rapidly growing demographic?

Over the past two years, companies have adapted to hybrid working, where people can split their time between working from home, from the head office and from a neighbourhood coworking space. But some companies are taking it one step further and have fully embraced the idea of WFA (Work From Anywhere). They have recognised that their employees really can WFA – all they need is Wi-Fi and a laptop.

Having a Regus membership means that you can drop into any location across the world, whether it’s Regus Northtown on the Queensland coast in Australia, Regus Rua Mouzinho da Silveira in Lisbon or New York’s Regus 14 Penn Plaza. What’s more, memberships unlock the full IWG (Regus’ parent company) network, giving customers access to 3,500 professional workplaces across the globe.

The growth of these flexible spaces helps to explain the extraordinary rise of digital nomads, who are defined as those who live a ‘location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the internet-connected world.’

A 2020 study by MBO Partners on the sector found that nearly 11 million American workers consider themselves digital nomads – up from 4.8 million in 2018 – while 17 million aspire to become location independent over the next few years.

This was once a lifestyle affordable only to freelancers and travel bloggers, but the report also shows that the number of digital nomads in what are considered to be traditional, full-time roles has risen dramatically from 3.2 million in 2019 to 6.3 million in 2020.

This has resulted in big name companies such as Spotify, Twitter and Salesforce announcing that their employees are allowed to work remotely as a permanent option. Spotify’s Work From Anywhere model not only allows its employees to choose the country and city they work in, but will also provide coworking space membership for all of its workers.

For businesses adapting to the new world of work and wishing to attract and retain the best talent, it’s going to be important to consider the needs of the digital nomad community. Here are some tips…

  1.  Introduce ‘digital nomad’ work policies

Unlike employees who base themselves in and around one location, digital nomads travel around so it’s important to have suitable policies in place. Companies must consider the regulatory and legal risks of having ‘location-independent’ employees who work while travelling through different countries. US law firm Littler has compiled a report that unpacks some of the legal issues surrounding employees who work as they travel.

  2.  Work in similar time zones

Working in similar time zones to head office will mean that remote ‘travelling’ teams are reachable within standard business hours. “For the sake of maintaining your productivity and open team communication, you need to set clear guidelines about availability,” says Janelle Owens, HR Director at Test Prep Insight in a feature for Ivy Exec. “For us, this means that overseas employees have to be logged on for at least four hours of every workday that overlaps with our team on the US West Coast.”

  3.  Ensure access to secure, reliable internet

In some countries, internet connection is too weak and this will be an issue for the digital nomad community. Companies that can provide access to a professional coworking space will address the key issue of finding safe, secure and reliable Wi-Fi to work from. A Regus membership will ensure that digital nomads have everything they need to keep working on the road.

The rise of digital nomads reflects the broader global shift to hybrid working, with an increasing number of progressive companies taking the model a step further by allowing their employees to WFA. And with 90% of digital nomads happier in their jobs, and another study showing they are 13% more productive than their office-based colleagues, it’s proving to be a positive change for many.

Even more locations for digital nomads

Regus parent company, IWG, has recently partnered with the world leader in airport hospitality, Plaza Premium Lounge (PPL), to offer all Regus customers a discounted rate on airport lounge access across the Plaza Premium Lounge network.

Located in 70 international airports across 30 countries and regions, the lounges offer a comfortable and convenient base for business travellers and digital nomads on the move. With its strong presence in Asia and Europe, and continuous growth in the Americas – from their award-winning London Heathrow T2 departure lounge to its recent debut at Budapest Airport, and the recently introduced São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport T2 departure, an architectural masterpiece of modern design and sustainability – the partnership allows immediate accessibility to IWG members, enabling them to operate on a safe and secure network, ensuring peace of mind through a comfortable and relaxing airport experience.

All that Regus members need to do is show their membership card on their Regus app to get the discount and to access any of PPL’s walk-in lounges.

Discover how Regus membership can help you or your team embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, with access to thousands of locations worldwide.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like these articles:

Why digital nomads are good for business

Incentives that will motivate your hybrid team