- According to a recent FlexJobs report, the majority of remote jobs have a location restriction. Remote work doesn’t always mean working anywhere you want.
- The idea that remote workers get to work when and wherever they please is essentially a myth conflated with freelancers – who are also rarely capable of digital nomadism.
- However, they are certainly more free to move than full-time remote employees.
Remote work consists of working from somewhere other than an office. Usually, remote work is done at home or close to home. Still, some remote workers like to take advantage of the opportunity and become digital nomads, which is someone who works while traveling around the country or world.
But how much freedom is there really in the world of remote work? How much leeway do most remote jobs have such that becoming a digital nomad is a legitimate possibility? Some might lead you to believe remote work intrinsically has the feature of full remote autonomy and flexibility built-in.
It is common to believe that remote work allows workers to do their jobs from anywhere, which is true for many remote workers.
Digital nomadism is a legitimate option in a small number of cases in which workers do their job remotely.
In most cases of remote work, some specified location – usually a state or region such as a time zone – is a requirement for employment.
The idea that remote workers get to work when and wherever they please is essentially a myth conflated with freelancers – who are also rarely capable of digital nomadism. However, they are certainly more free to move than full-time remote employees.
Most remote work has some restrictions
Remote work might be more restrictive than it has led on to be.
In many cases, this is for a good reason. If you work for finance, for instance, you need to have high-security and high-speed internet at a location to operate specialized systems; banks are constantly under digital siege, so security protocols are exceptionally high for remote workers.
Companies will often impose a location restriction for tax purposes, travel, and even for proximity to office purposes. Just because work is remote does not mean you will never have to work with another person in-person ever again. Some meetings are non-negotiable and must be in-person.
Nevertheless, according to a new study by FlexJobs, 95% of remote jobs have a location requirement. In other words, in most cases, remote work requires you to work in a specific location, not anywhere you want.
Digital nomadism, therefore, is exceedingly rare and difficult to achieve. Whenever a report is made on digital nomads or influencers who claim to be digital nomads, and this fact is left excluded, such exclusion is a profound disservice to those interested in the path of remote work.
According to the same FlexJobs report, 55% of the workforce wants to work remotely full-time, 100% of their work hours, and this is largely due to the overblown portrayal of remote work as being a lot freer than it actually is.
There are different specifications of location requirements for remote jobs
Location requirements for most remote jobs are generally regional, not ultra-specific. Therefore, generally speaking, if a remote job is located in your state, you are highly likely to be eligible for employment in that position.
The ultra-specificity of the remote work location will largely depend on the type of work you are doing. If you are a writer, given that your work is extremely independent, you can roam a lot more freely than a remote banker, whose internet security is at far greater risk.
Just over half of the top fifteen states in FlexJob’s report that measure the highest concentration of remote jobs are on the East Coast, and one-third are in the Northeast. No West Coast or southern states made the top fifteen.
Nevertheless, the restrictiveness of remote work to a specific location is not high enough to deter most workers from desiring remote work options.
Commuting is a profound source of stress for many workers – particularly those living in big cities where crime rates have been accelerating in recent years. Staying at home is inherently safer and is what most people who work remotely do.
Even if these workers are not digital nomads, they can still go out to get groceries, pick up their kids from school, and live a more flexible life than if they had to work in an office, where leaving in the middle of a work day is generally more frowned upon.
These restrictions undermine the popular idea of remote work being this post-modern quasi-vacation, where workers get to pull off Tim Ferris’ four-hour work week every week. But they do not undermine the value of remote work as being more flexible than in-person work.