In this State of Independence Research Brief, we explore the rising trend of and interest in digital nomadism, as well as some reasons for its growing popularity.
As the world of independent work grows and changes, so do the motivations, desires, and methods of the workers and companies behind the movement. In 2018, MBO Partners has elected for the first time to dive deeper into our annual State of Independence in America research and consider not just who makes up the independent workforce, but how groups within the larger population of independent workers differ in demographics, motivation and more.
We begin with the Digital Nomads, a population of independent workers who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the world. Our research finds that 4.8 million independent workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads, and many more, 17 million, aspire to someday become nomadic.
Many factors contribute to independent workers' ability to become digital nomads, including the rise in co-living and coworking spaces, the growth of online talent marketplaces, digital nomad tour services, and the rise of helpful online information sites aimed both at nomads and at travelers in general.
Much like independents themselves, nomads are a diverse group, made up of no single generation, profession, or socio-economic class. While they skew young and male, one-third are female and 54 percent are over the age of 38. Creative professions dominate, but IT and marketing are also strong participants in the movement. One in six earn more than $75,000 annually, although they are split relatively evenly between full- and part-time workers (54 to 46 percent).
As technology evolves and companies grow more comfortable with a distributed and remote workforce, we predict a rise in the interest in and joining of the digital nomad movement for various reasons, including work/life balance, Baby Boomers "unretiring" and more.
Read on for our deep dive into the world of digital nomadism, and stay tuned for more Research Briefs from our State of Independence in America series throughout the remainder of the year.