Office work was once the norm, but now it seems like something out of the distant past. Remote work has been around for a long time, but since the pandemic started, it has really taken off. Suddenly, people had to work from home. There was no point in coming to the office. And, of course, after some time, the restrictions were lifted, but so were our blinders. Why do we have to go to work all this time when we could just as well perform our tasks at home? Or somewhere else? Because working remotely is just as easy from our home desk as it is from a villa in Spain, just to give an example.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the number of digital nomads has increased since the beginning of the pandemic. According to research by MBO Partners, there were 49% more American digital nomads in 2020 alone than a year earlier (10.9 million vs. 7.30 million), and we believe the United States was not the only country to experience such a rise. At a time when international travel has been hit hard and many destinations have struggled to bring back these tourists, many countries have decided to provide special “digital nomad visas” for remote workers. Portugal, Barbados and the islands are just a few of the many destinations that digital nomads will find it easier to settle down for a year or two. Great if you want to shake up your desktop and great for the national economy. Win-win.
However, as always, there is a downside to the growing number of digital nomads. The aviation industry accounts for 3% of global CO2 emissions, and no matter how you look at it, being a digital nomad often means getting on a plane from time to time. Especially the cliché of the twenty year old nomads we all have in mind, who spend their days sipping a cocktail in Bali one week and surfing in Portugal the week after. However, as we become more aware of our impact on the environment as a species, the same is true for remote workers.
Meet Slomad. In short, breakaways are trying to integrate some of the principles of slow travel into their lives as digital nomads. This means staying longer in the same place and really getting to know your destination, but that’s not all. Just like when you’re living a “normal” life, it’s not that hard to make your digital nomad life a little greener. Choosing train travel over air travel, trying to create as little waste as possible, choosing small businesses over giant hotel chains… As consumers, every choice we make sends a message, and it’s no different when it comes to digital nomads.
And apparently, slamming is a trend. According to a survey by Fiverr and Lonely Planet, 55% of digital nomads choose to stay in the same place for three months or longer. By doing so, they are limiting their CO2 emissions and, instead of being regular travelers, they are becoming what researchers like to call “workers anywhere.” This different approach also means that all work abroad is becoming more family-friendly – about 70% of those working anywhere are parents who bring their family with them.
As far as destinations go, Thailand, the United States, Spain, Japan, and Portugal are some of the most popular, and it seems that breakers prefer to stay closer to home than the average digital nomad. Better for the environment and more convenient if for some reason you need to return to your home country in case of an emergency. And nothing will change. Restrictions may have been lifted around the world, but digital nomads are reluctant to return to their jobs. 98% of correspondents polled by Lonely Planet and Fiverr want to continue to live the way they live. Maybe in the future we will all travel around the globe?