- A survey into the growing trend of working remotely while traveling (conducted by Lonely Planet and Fiverr) has revealed that over 50% of all respondents have become “Anywhere Workers” in the last two years.
- A new cross-generational workforce of digital nomads is breaking traditional workplace boundaries and setting up remote worker villages across the globe.
- To coexist with local populations, Anywhere Workers should actively engage in local life and adopt environmentally sustainable work and life practices.
According to a Lonely Planet and Fiverr report, an “Anywhere Worker” is essentially a post-pandemic digital nomad: people who work remotely while traveling, working from at least two locations annually.
In 2021, over 15 million Americans described themselves as digital nomads. This represents a staggering increase of 112%, from pre-pandemic levels. The trend is driven by the desire to combine remote work with travel. The report was based on a survey of 1,400 Anywhere Workers from six different countries and 67 nationalities.
The main findings include:
- The earnings of 90% of respondents have increased (or remained stable) since becoming an Anywhere Worker.
- Over half (61%) of the respondents work full-time and the majority (84%) stated that the nature of their work enables travel.
- 98% of Anywhere Workers desire to continue working remotely and traveling for the foreseeable future.
Anywhere Workers — The State of Play in 2022
As of June 2022, over 25 countries had introduced digital-nomad visas to attract international guests who can temporarily live in one country while working for companies or clients based in another. Such schemes are increasingly seen as a way of reinvigorating a nation’s economy post-pandemic.
According to Andy Stoferis (our Allwork.Space digital nomad expert), the demographic diversity of this group is interesting. The majority of digital nomads are Millennials (44%), but the remainder of this group is Generation Z (21%), Generation X (23%) and Baby Boomers (12%).
Although the average age of a digital nomad is 32, there is a sub-section comprising workers over 60 (11%). In addition to being cross-generational, the Anywhere Worker is also identified by the nature of their remote-work lifestyle. The traveling workers in their twenties are the original digital nomads, but they have been joined by “slomads” (those who work in one location and travel every three months or so), Van-Lifers (those who work online and travel around in camper vans) and digital nomad families (people in their 30s and 40s who work and travel with partners and often children in tow). One thing is for sure — remote work is no longer a domain restricted to attractive social media influencers and freelancers.
The Rewards and Drawbacks of Working from Anywhere
Reports all indicate that the freedom to work and travel simultaneously has given many people a much-needed sense of control over their lives. Being a digital nomad has also provided many workers with a new lease on life — the freedom to travel, learn new languages, make new friends and enjoy diverse cultural experiences.
The rise of the Anywhere Worker would not have been possible without the flexibility that many companies now afford their employees with remote and hybrid work opportunities. It has meant that workers can retain (or increase) their salaries whilst cutting costs in other areas.
Traditionally, many workers chose the world’s biggest cities as their base to live and work. These cities were seen as the places you needed to be if you wanted to succeed. The pandemic changed this notion, and due to the mega expansion of remote work, many of us are now fortunate enough to be able to work from anywhere.
As a consequence, one of the greatest benefits of being a digital nomad has to be the substantial cut in housing costs experienced by those moving out of some of the world’s most expensive cities.
Alongside the benefits, the Lonely Planet survey revealed that the life of an Anywhere Worker is not suited to everyone and cited loneliness as one of the main challenges. Of those surveyed, 90% commented that they had felt lonely and isolated during their travels.
When people are constantly on the move it becomes difficult to maintain close social ties or find a sense of belonging, often impacting mental wellbeing. Some Anywhere Workers circumvent this issue by traveling home regularly — but this can prove costly and could have the opposite effect of maintaining social isolation where you work.
From Rising Trend to the Future of Work
The Lonely Planet survey and numerous other reports all indicate that the Anywhere Worker is here to stay. The pandemic not only gave rise to unprecedented levels of people working remotely; it also encouraged us to search for new meaning and balance in our daily lives.
Working from anywhere has evolved from being a logistical necessity (during the pandemic) to a new way of working that embraces many of the values coveted by today’s workforce.
One major development alongside the rise of Anywhere Workers is the creation of digital nomad villages. These villages are generally set up in the style of “one-stop shops.” They afford the traveling worker access to coworking spaces and shared living arrangements.
At the heart of these communities is a social media presence that coordinates all events and activities. Digital nomad villages are showing up in some interesting places (Venice and Madeira, for instance). The main appeal of these initiatives is that they provide infrastructure and support for the anywhere worker. Additionally, they help them gain more insight into local culture and activities within the region.
Will Local People Benefit from Digital Nomad Villages?
A few individuals working in one place for a couple of months will not necessarily create long-term benefits; however, the rise of villages for a substantial population of digital nomads is causing some concern about the long-term impact on the host region.
Digital-nomad visas are designed to encourage the most talented people to travel with skills and knowledge that the host country considers beneficial to economic growth. These visas, alongside digital nomad villages, are designed not only to make life somewhere else more attractive; they are also a means of attracting the best talent among those seeking the nomadic worker lifestyle.
This is especially common in villages and towns that have the infrastructure to support digital nomads but remain under-populated or lack a younger cohort of workers.
There is an assumption that an influx of Anywhere Workers can provide economic benefits and even decrease a region’s reliance on leisure tourism. However, some local community members are concerned about the potential adverse effects a steady influx of digital nomads could have.
Concerns range from demands on housing and the potential to push-up local housing costs to a lack of social engagement between the Anywhere Workers and the local population.
How feasible is it to assume that these workers will integrate if they are only in the region for a few months? Integration often takes time, and does not always occur organically. This is where individuals need to do some planning before traveling.
It is important to have prior knowledge of the place, its people, culture, laws and history. Learning some basic phrases in the host language (before you set off) is also advisable. There have been reports of digital nomads behaving like tourists and not engaging in a meaningful way with the locals. These workers have often remained excluded from the host population; this is crucial in terms of whether or not this practice is sustainable.
Do Most Anywhere Workers Strive for Sustainability?
According to the Lonely Planet report, there have always been concerns over the environmental impact caused by digital nomads. This group has drawn criticism for having a large carbon footprint (taking constant flights back and forth to far-flung places). Some types of digital nomads (slomads for example) are striving to remain in one place for longer periods; however, environmentalists are still concerned about the impact of constant flying, alongside a lack of appreciation of local ecosystems.
Sustainable flying involves taking responsibility as an individual, but, as the report indicates, there is also an opportunity for employers to factor the carbon footprint of their nomadic employees into their annual emissions reports.
The hope is that the Anywhere Workers of the future will fly less and do more to support local environmental projects and campaigns upon arrival in the host region.
Top Tips on Surviving as an Anywhere Worker
- Choose a city with an existing digital nomad community
- Apply for a digital nomad visa (if available and required)
- Research and select the correct bank account and credit cards
- Choose a location that aligns with your working hours
- Consider your technology requirements (broadband, etc.)
- Learn the basics of the local language
- Research the culture and history of your host country
- Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs
- Obtain the necessary travel and health insurance
- Join coliving communities where available
- Become a member of local coworking spaces
- Find out about local activities, groups and events that you could join
- Consider becoming involved in local “green” initiatives
- Make friends and enjoy the experience!