It seems almost facetious to say that the Internet has profoundly changed the way we conduct business, technological advancements have moulded so conveniently into our lives that we sometimes forget to notice them.
Email, video conferencing, apps, digital marketing and social media have all changed the working environment in a relatively short space of time, but for a select few these innovations also offer extraordinary freedom, allowing them to become a new breed of digital nomad.
In the digital economy the restrictions of a permanent office, 9-5 routine and the need to be physically present in order to guide staff do not structure people’s lives as they once did. A generation of young entrepreneurs can set up and run businesses remotely, networking and conducting business with people they never need meet in the flesh.
This has afforded them the opportunity to be constantly on the move, whether for business or pleasure, working between adventure holidays in New Zealand, Michelin-starred dinners in Paris and nights out in Hong Kong.
The roots of these digital nomads can arguably be traced back to the search for new talent. In an attempt to recruit skilled staff regardless of their location, businesses have become more accustomed to remote working.
With this change in attitude we’ve become accustomed to holding business meetings via Skype and many of the previous barriers to not having a physical office have been removed. The natural evolution is that for many, having a travel lifestyle and successful business is now not mutually exclusive.
The new digital nomads have realised that they can live this life indefinitely, seeing everything the world has to offer without having to retire early, give up their business or damage their income. This has resulted in a roving band of entrepreneurs like Mark Manson, who are always on the move, occasionally stopping to meet up with each other and sometimes not coming home for years.
Some choose to hop between lavish hotels, use property investment clubs, temporarily rent properties – or live in a hut. In the past, manufacturers lived where the factories were, but in an ever-more globalised economy, having this insular attitude can actually be restrictive.
The new, restless entrepreneur, constantly on the move for their next experience and moneymaking opportunity, is finding that perpetual travel can actually bolsters business opportunities.
This freedom doesn’t only apply to those who are earning huge amounts of money. Freelancers of all stripes, once they have established themselves enough to ensure they are relatively financially secure, are leaving their homes to satisfy their wanderlust and work abroad.
This is reflected in the creation of projects such as Hubud, a shared working space in Bali where foot loose freelancers can meet and work together. The “global office space” Urban Station offers a similar service in South America, and these schemes allow people to travel alone without becoming isolated.
For a generation where all knowledge, presentations, spread sheets and accounting can be accessed from something as transportable as a smartphone, it makes sense that those who have the option are choosing a more nomadic existence.
The focus on travel also displays a shift in attitude. Wealth and accomplishment is becomingly increasing recognised by doing amazing things – rather than owning them. Amassing material goods is becoming less and less important in a digital age.
Whatever the driving force behind these business owners, with the world becoming ever more interconnected, it could be that in the future being a digital nomad is the norm rather than the exception.