Why and How to Build a Business Case to Become a Digital Nomad

By MBO Partners | February 8, 2023

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Key Points

From 2019 to 2022, the American workforce has seen a 131% increase in digital nomad growth.

Digital nomads lead a technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the world.

Many companies today are enacting plans and policies to allow employees to become digital nomads.

Have you ever dreamed of working from an exotic location in another country? Perhaps a sunny beach in Bali, the colorful streets of Portugal, or the skyscraping-city of Dubai. For many, this dream is a reality. From 2019 to 2022, the American workforce has seen a 131% increase in digital nomad growth.

Digital Nomad Defined

Digital Nomads are workers who embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the world. Today, 16.9 million American workers describe themselves as digital nomads. The COVID-19 pandemic was a big factor in this trend, as many traditional, full-time workers were able to work from home—and the road—during 2020 and 2021.

While it might seem like independent workers— freelancers, entrepreneurs, contractors, etc.—have the upper hand when it comes to work flexibility, two-thirds of digital nomads are actually traditional job holders. Most are younger, 47% are Millennials, and slightly more than half are male. These workers come from all different fields from education and training, to information technology, finance, sales, and marketing.

Technology is a unifying presence among digital nomads, as they need to rely on digital tools and the Internet to conduct work. In fact, 86% say they use technology to make themselves more competitive in their work, versus 47% of non-digital nomads. Digital nomads are early adopters of technology, and most have some sort of specialized training, education, or expertise that contributes to their work.

Why Become a Digital Nomad?

In addition to feeding your travel bug, becoming a digital nomad has many other lifestyle benefits. Digital nomads are among the workers most satisfied with their work and lifestyle. While income can vary widely for digital nomads because some work part-time and some work full-time, more than 80% say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their earnings. Many are also able to take advantage of the low cost of living in other countries combined with a higher income of being an expat.

Digital nomads are on the whole satisfied with their work/life balance. They enjoy meeting people, exploring new places, and experiencing different cultures. They are able to earn enough to travel comfortably, which is their top benefit of being nomadic to begin with. Most plan to continue their lifestyle for the next 2-3 years, and 72 million Americans say they plan on becoming digital nomads over the next 2-3 years.

How to Become a Digital Nomad

If you’re curious about becoming a digital nomad, the first question you might ask is, will my company let me do this? While businesses have initially be hesitant about this request, attitudes are changing. Many companies today are enacting plans and policies to allow employees to become digital nomads. The ability to comfortably work remotely coupled with higher worker satisfaction has many potential benefits for businesses.

Countries and cities are also interested in attracting digital nomads. These workers spend more money year-round than a seasonal tourist, create jobs for local people, and might even start a local business. More than 45 countries today have digital nomad visa programs. There are many services to help people get started including cross-border health insurance, online sites to help people find temporary living situations, and even organized communities where digital nomads live and work together.

Another important factor to consider is the growth of remote work technology. Remote collaboration software grew by leaps and bounds during the pandemic, and much of this technology has become commonplace today. Many companies and workers are comfortable using this technology, which has helped businesses become more comfortable with the idea of allowing employees to pursue an alternative work arrangement.

If you’re interested in becoming a digital nomad, check out our digital nomad permission template as a starting point for a conversation with your company.

Download our Digital Nomad Sponsorship Template to start your digital nomad journey.

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