Although digital nomads have had to mostly stay put since the beginning of the pandemic, more opportunities to be part of this community of traveling professionals is growing.
According to a survey from MBO Partners, digital nomads grew from 7.3 million last year to 10.9 million this year, a 49% increase.
However, digital nomads still only account for 7% of the U.S. labor force. This number is expected to grow as more and more companies have adopted the resources and infrastructure to accommodate these workers.
Meanwhile, many people have expressed wanting to become digital nomads over the next two or three years. Steve King, partner at Emergent Research, which helped conduct the survey, believes that these are “armchair digital nomads” who will never make the leap.
Digital nomads typically consist of entrepreneurs or those who are self-employed. According to the Freelance Forward survey commissioned by remote working platform Upwork, the amount of self-employed freelancers has grown. However, if full-time positions become more readily available in the next few years, this number could drop.
Regardless of how much the digital nomad population grows, it is evident that when offices open back up again, white-collar workers will still want to have the flexibility to work where they want.
“It’s going to mean that more of these people will say, ‘I can’t go to Barcelona or Thailand, but I can go to Boulder or Bend,’” said King.