Is COVID-19 the Catalyst for Normalizing Digital Nomadism?
Updated: May 22, 2020
What are the implications of increasing remote work in America?
In 2018 if you asked the average American if they had heard of the term ‘Digital Nomad’ almost all of them would say no. However, most people had heard of the concept ‘Working from Home’ or ‘Working Remotely.’ In 2019 about 4 million Americans worked from home, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Those are pretty small numbers compared to the 160+ million-person workforce America boasts.
Now, Post-COVID, most people have not only heard of working remotely, but they have also experienced it. Today we are in a completely different landscape than just three months ago. Millions of Americans and American Companies are not only realizing the benefits and possibilities around having a more remote workforce but they have also been forced to experiment with their teams working remotely.
Wiki says, in 2020, there are about 165 million people in the American workforce. So image if even one-quarter of those people transition to working from home post-COVID. That will be 41 million people working from home! That is over 10x the number from last year.
What could the implications be of such a dramatic shift in our workforce standards?
I predict the following:
Demand for Commercial Real Estate Drops
Demand for Gasoline Drops
Demand for Multiple Cars per Household Drops
Demand for Home Office Commodities Spike
Demand for Home High-Speed Wifi Spikes
Demand for Activity Based Purchases Spike
Number of Digital Nomads Spike
In 2019, according to MBO Partner’s study, 4.8 million independent workers described themselves as digital nomads globally, and many more, 17 million, aspire to someday become nomadic. With the increase in remote workers, in the United States alone, I predict that number to jump tremendously over the next 24 months.
Once people start working from home and see the autonomy this practice provides them, it’s only a matter of time before they realize they could be working from anywhere that has WiFi. Digital Nomadism was already growing rapidly around the world, compounding year over year. Imagine when people realize not only the intrinsic pleasure it brings to be more in control of their day but also the financial benefits from living around the world.
COVID-19 is the catalyst that is going to turn Digital Nomadism from a rare non-traditional lifestyle to a standard for the Millennial and younger generations.
Companies are going to have a very hard time telling their employees they can’t work remotely after doing just that, successfully, for over three months. Employees now have empirical evidence to stand on when negotiating new working conditions and the numbers speak for themselves. How could a company that needs to make up its COVID financial losses not consider the idea of dramatically cutting overhead by decreasing their rent by half if not more by allowing their employees to work from home?
Not only does it make financial sense, but studies show that employee morale goes up when people are allowed to work from home. It cuts out their employee’s commute time and allows that person to utilize those 1–2 precious hours per day doing something they love or practicing self-care. Providing Americans a chance for more life balance. Giving the average American an extra 14 hours per week, wow can you imagine?
Digital Nomadism is on the rise, there is no question there. But COVID-19 just pushed the rolling snowball down the mountain even faster.