At the beginning of the year I asked the question are Digital Nomads Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox?
Now that the media momentum mounts – with people in the know predicting that the Future of Work is Freelancing Crazy Foxes are in a good position to ride the freelance wave.
According to a recent SAP and Oxford Economics report, 83% of executives say their companies are increasing their use of contingent workers. Intuit, apparently mining data from electronic TurboTax filings, reported that by 2020 40% of American Workers will be freelancers.
This year there were more freelancers than ever on National Freelancers Day; the biggest increase was in the number of self-employed people working on a full-time basis as opposed to part-time. The practice is becoming more common and more powerful, good or bad.
San Francisco, ground-zero for this on demand economy is home to companies like the app-based Handy that will dispatch services workers to your house to clean, repair, even assemble you IKEA finds.
Young professionals who work for Google and Facebook can use the apps on their phones to get their apartments cleaned by Handy or Homejoy; their groceries bought and delivered by Instacart; their clothes washed by Washio and their flowers delivered by BloomThat.
Even freelancers will tell you the secret to climbing the pyramid to wealth generation on the beach is to farm out some of the work to people in countries hungry for the hard currency you are willing to pay them to build your empire. Some online entrepreneurs insist you’re a Crazy Fox if you don’t take advantage of the global abundance of talent.
The upside for employers is they only pay for the talent they need when they need it. The risk is not having good talent ready when you do. For freelancers the benefit is a more flexible lifestyle, but they have to hustle to maintain income.
The freelance story is bigger than just digital nomads. The salt of the earth American working class have been forced by job loss to create businesses of their own, like the former corporate IT guy who is doing tech installations in mall kiosks.
Startups are competing to ease the transition. Take Work Market, a platform where former corporate workers can find their own work.
The big problem for freelancers in America is healthcare. Even with better access to healthcare coverage, it’s more expensive, for example, the former corporate IT guy went from about $350 in monthly premiums in his old job to $600 per month on his own. He also is working many more hours — 60, sometimes 80.
That is where the digital nomad lifestyle can add value. If you can globalize your income, earn U.S. dollars or Euros working from a rented house in Colombia then the working more hours to get the same income diminishes.
Depending on the healthcare system in your location, the healthcare price tag can be much lower. My annual healthcare bill in the Czech Republic is $600, and the care is excellent. Guatemala offers free health care to everyone, it’s a right, not a privilege. The owners of Hostel Captain Tom where we stayed in Antigua (with excellent WiFi) had received major dental and medical services in town, all of excellent quality.
That is why Digital Nomads aren’t just millennials. Seasoned corporate warriors, like Gray Wolf Survivor, Scott Kelley have taken to the road for life fulfillment.
Building A Digital Nomad Life is not a piece of cake. We talk all the time about the challenges of packing and unpacking and being without a home to call you own. Thankfully those who have gone before us are willing to share how to’s.
A global executive said in Inc. that businesses need Digital Nomads. Happy, satisfied workers are stronger performers. Survey findings show that professionals who became digital nomads were 79 % more productive.
Maybe your company needs some adventure travelers on your next project team.