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Are "Digital Nomads" the future of work?

Who has never dreamed of being a “digital nomad” and being able to work from basically anywhere? All you need is a computer, an internet connection and an open-minded boss!

06.07.2017

The emergence of GAFA has disrupted the operating methods of companies. For many years, these innovative digital companies have tried very hard to please their employees, especially by creating a good work environment: headquarters became campuses with nurseries, restaurants, gyms, nap areas, gardens etc. The goal of these reorganizations is clearly to boost productivity. And what better way than having a productive employee who is happy to stay at his workplace, doesn’t count hours and has anything he/she needs in the same place?
What if today’s employees fulfillment came from the satisfaction of other needs, like traveling, being more independent, and having other obligations than being at the same place every day between 8am and 7pm? Lately we hear about partial remote / full-remote workers, or “digital nomads”.
What is a digital nomad? Someone who only needs two things to work: a computer and an internet connection. With these, a digital nomad can work from basically anywhere on the planet. 

The reasons to consider the “digital nomad way”

There can be completely different reasons to switch to this practice, and they can come from the employee or from the employer. For employees, reasons are often linked to personal projects: going for a world trip, following your partner who’s been transferred to another city / country… Employers on the other side, can want to promote a different company culture, allow his/her employees to fulfill their dreams, give his/her company a new dimension…
However nomadism should not be taken lightly, no matter what the reasons are. For Geogres, CTO and co-founder of SimpliField, setting up this method should always be “a real project, that each side (employer and employee) must prepare and anticipate”. 

Trust as the foundation of the experience

Because we are talking about sending an employee sometimes thousands of miles away from their work place, in total autonomy, the project must be validated. The idea is not to take a holiday but to actually work. A mutual and complete trust is therefore needed. Employer and employee must be able to trust each other completely, and know the limits. The point is not for the employer to check on his employee 5x more than before. The relationship must be healthy and trustful. 

Set up clear an achievable objectives

The main goal of this experience is to allow the employee to discover new things. Setting up clear and achievable objectives will let everyone enjoy the experience to its fullest. Because there’s no point in being in Bali if you have to be in a cyber coffee all day long! 

Regular phone / skype / hangout meetings

You may think that this is quite constraining, especially for the employee. But after discussing it with Arnaud, developer at SimpliField, it appeared to be extremely important to him: “it’s a connection with France, with the team, and it’s necessary for my missions but also to feel like you belong in a company. Before leaving, I was worried I would be cut off from the team: these meetings allowed me to keep in touch”.
Time differences make it also necessary to anticipate. For Georges, it’s an opportunity in disguise: anticipating so that the person on the other side of the world has the information at the good time, and isn’t stuck while everyone else is asleep brings a certain discipline that can benefit the rest of the team or even the activity itself. 

What about productivity?

The question of concentration (and productivity) is probably on the top 3 questions an employer asks himself when thinking about “digital nomads”. This point shouldn’t be underestimated. It was one of Arnaud’s fears, but quite soon he realized that on the contrary, he became aware of how lucky he is to work in such exceptional conditions. He still wanted to produce: “I’m lucky to work for a company that offers these methods, and I didn’t want it to end, so I really wanted to meet my objectives and not to disappoint”. Obviously this thought must come from the employee, and is intimately connected to the notion of trust. 

Don’t forget to cut the cord

“Digital nomadism” can be adapted to many challenges, many people with different jobs. Of course not everyone is cut out to work from the other side of the world with complete autonomy. However if your company’s values includes open-mindedness and innovation and if the subject comes on the table, actually consider it… Well done, this can be an incredible experience for everyone.
 
For those who are still not convinced, check this out… 
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