According to our most recent research, about 11% of US workers in 2023 consider themselves digital nomads. That translates to 17.3 million workers who combine remote work with travel. Of this total, about 38% of these workers (6.6 million) are independent professionals while the remainder (10.7 million) are traditional employees.
While the digital nomad lifestyle is not uniform, these workers have some attributes in common, namely a passion for travel, desire for adventures, and interest in experiencing and learning about new cultures. These attributes call on a range of soft skills that can be of great value to enterprises.
Independent of the type of work or organizational function, soft skills can also be thought of as “human skills,” characteristics that cannot be duplicated by artificial intelligence. They encompass a variety of characteristics and abilities, all of which can increase productivity in a team or organization.
Because of the nature of the lifestyle, many digital nomads have developed soft skills that not only support them in their travels but also offer business advantages to their clients and employers.
They are innovative thinkers
Simply embarking on the lifestyle is an innovative step. Digital nomads can bring their innovative viewpoint to the work and perhaps help spark outside-the-lines thinking in the team.
They are problem solvers
A digital nomad routinely encounters challenges and problems in the course of day-to-day life, and the farther they travel from their home base, the tougher the challenges and problems can be. If a digital nomad you’re thinking of engaging is living and working in Thailand, for example, it can be fair to assume that they have successfully dealt with unexpected roadblocks.
They are effective planners
With so many moving parts to bring together when working on the road, especially for international travel, organized thinking and effective planning come naturally to digital nomads.
They are continuous learners
In the course of traveling, there’s always something new around the corner. Digital nomads can be learning sponges in their personal and professional lives.
How to Gauge Soft Skills in Digital Nomads
You can gain a lot of insight into the various soft skills of a digital nomad you are considering engaging by having a conversation about their lifestyle. Pay attention to how they talk about their experiences on the road as you ask questions like:
- What made you decide to become a digital nomad?
- What initial challenges or roadblocks did you encounter when you started out? How did you resolve them?
- What has been your biggest challenge so far? How was it addressed?
- Tell me about a mistake you made somewhere along the line. How did you manage it?
- What do you like best about being a digital nomad?
- Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
Listen not only to the content of their answers but to the way they respond. Are they upbeat? Do they talk openly about their mistakes or negative experiences and what they learned from them? Do they apply their experiences as a digital nomad to the work they are doing? You’ll be able to get a good sense of their skill level in the soft areas that are important to your team and organization.