Digital nomads are redefining the concept of earning a living. From the co-working spaces of Berlin to the mountain huts of Colorado and the tranquil beaches of Mexico, a simple internet connection is all that is needed to create a remote work environment. Today's era of technological advancements has shattered the traditional constraints of the daily work routine, creating a lifestyle that combines the thrill of wanderlust with a location-independent career. And the new generations such as Gen Z are finding themselves accustomed to such a lifestyle.
The MBO digital nomad report found that digital nomads were becoming younger, with an increase of Gen Z and Millennials, who together accounted for 62% of the market. Paired with the sharp 50% growth that has been recorded in the US after COVID-19, the digital nomad movement promises strong potential for a massive worldwide market of the future.
Nonetheless, this comes with its blessings and curses. As the world becomes more interconnected and digitally driven, these modern-day explorers must keep in touch with the latest trends and requirements of such a fast-paced industry and labor market. For all of you out there who are enticed by the idea of paying your bills while sightseeing, here are the top 8 skills every digital nomad need to acquire to build a solid location-independent career.
1. Efficient Time Management
Work and exploration have not always mixed this well together. Jobs as the older generations know them entailed complete time dedication towards the employer. Commuting, office spaces, and coworker interaction daily have always been a standard for your average employee up until the late 90's. With the popularisation of the “Digital Nomad” book by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners in 1997, the world witnessed a global shift towards remote work. This caused an utter transformation in the work process, one where effective time management is crucial.
As a digital nomad, the majority of your clients will set certain tasks and deadlines they want you to meet. Instead of logging in 8 hours of office work where your time is managed for you, your ability to deliver projects promptly is what will be taken into consideration when building a professional reputation. When you learn time management, you avoid improper task planning, burning out, or missed deadlines, all of which will negatively interfere with your aspirations of a withstanding digital nomad career.
An unknown environment is a digital nomad's comfort zone. With exploring the world comes the burden of 38 distinct time zones and countless more diverse cultures to get yourself familiar with. But not just that. Being adaptable will allow you to fit in with many different clients of different fields, who have unique work processes that you must follow.
Being constantly on the move means you're never in the same place twice. Unfortunately, for the important art of networking, this can cause a huge setback for your business. But not to worry – that's just for the traditional way of doing things! Social media and its rapid evolution birthed many valuable networking platforms such as LinkedIn where a digital nomad can showcase his work, build long-term partnerships with other respected professionals in the same field, and find new clients.
Every client has different requirements, just as every country has different communication habits. Both written and verbal, a clear communication pathway with team members and local communities is vital to your success as a digital nomad. The ability to properly express any struggles or difficulties you might be encountering with your work will enable your team to address the problem head-on and avoid bigger problems that might arise in the future. Similarly, being a gifted communicator will offer you viable living options in any part of the world you're visiting.
Employees have been finding distractions in a boring office space for years. For digital nomads, distractions are a given. It takes certain types of individuals with a certain type of self-discipline to master the balance of work and travel. The temptation to explore the new and exciting place you've just landed on will undoubtedly cloud your mind once or twice, which is why self-motivation and a strong work ethic are a requirement for this kind of work.
6. Software Skills
The ‘digital' in digital nomad illustrates a tech-savvy individual who can put the unlimited source of technology tools available to use. Proficiency in using various digital applications, project management software, and communication platforms will put you ahead of the game considering the current demanding digitized market. Popular tools include Trello, Slack, etc.
Many clients are in need of individuals who can get the job done, without the extra costs of a physical employee. This includes working during the night, on weekends, or even longer office hours – depending on how they like to do things. Adapting to a flexible working schedule will only broaden your resume, opening opportunities for bigger projects.
8. Openness to Learning Something New
Lastly, on the triumphant journey to becoming a successful digital nomad, the start quite often looks like an initiative to learn a new skill or trendy software. Virtual events and workshops are just some of the most practical options among the countless learning opportunities the sacred internet offers for the new generation of workers.
Although exciting and liberating, traveling the world SOLO with only a laptop as a travel buddy isn't always smooth. There will always be obstacles in the way. Nevertheless, with the mastery of the skills mentioned above, as a digital nomad, you should be able to handle anything the world throws at you.