The rise of the digital nomads

• By Uaueza Kanguatjivi

CLIO Pauly, a Humanities Education Professional who works remotely and teaches English online to students in Germany described her life as a digital nomad as one that enables her to be present for her homeschooled children while avoiding the stresses associated with traditional employment where one is required to report to a duty station for an eight-hour shift.

The term “digital nomad” was first coined in 1997 by authors Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners in their book, “Digital Nomad.”

“As technology advanced and people found that they could either work their current jobs or run a business remotely, they decided to uproot their lives, sell their possessions, and travel the world”.

Locally, young and middle-aged alike, have taken advantage of the internet of things (IOT) and broken away from the mainstream job market and taken on the new trend of working from Café’s, hotels and even recreation parks.

All one needs is a smartphone with data, a laptop, a backpack and you are set!

The occasional headphones and pocket Wi-Fi also come in handy!

A digital nomad is an individual who lives on the road and makes use of modern technology to earn a living.

Research shows that in the 21st Century, digital nomads use their skills to work via laptops, social media and mobile phones.

The freedom to choose where to live and where to work is part of the experience.

“Working remotely not only affords me time to travel the world, it also allows me the freedom to choose my working hour, which clients to take on and how much to charge for my services”, Pauly told Confidente.

The Covid-19 pandemic also changed the narrative of what it means to work remotely with many people confined to their homes the need to innovate whilst earning a living gave impetus to mainstreaming of what is now called digital nomadism.

Writer and Translator, Kristen Strotman defined a digital nomad as an individual that works independently while travelling the world.

Strottmann said she chose to become a digital nomad in order to gain freedom.

“I would definitely say that working as a digital nomad gives me freedom followed by a more diverse portfolio; the COVID-19 pandemic also played a role in me becoming a freelancer”, she explained.

“Becoming your own boss is worth it, but you have to be disciplined and arrange your time well.” Strottman remarked.

Speaking to Confidente, Chief Executive Officer at LESO Media and Tech Laban Ebenzeer describes working the office as being too corporate whereas in cafe’s, restaurants and co-working spaces one gets to meet new people and network.

“Although I’m not a digital nomad as I don’t travel around the world, I would say if the opportunity presented itself I too would want to work remotely while enjoying the leisure of meeting new people while travelling,” Ebenzeer said.

He said working at the office was too corporate however ever since COVID-19 he’s been able to work remotely which allows him more flexibility.

“Networking also opens doors for new opportunities even for this digital nomad stuff.’ Ebenzeer remarked.

A Windhoek based Radio presenter, who asked Confidente not to reveal her name, said remote working somewhat erodes the human aspect of interaction in the work place.

“The idea of becoming a digital nomad is nice as you can still get paid for work while travelling but on the other hand it takes away the human aspect of being able to interact and network with people which helps strengthen our intercultural communication”, she said.

Walking through the various Café’s in Windhoek’s central business district one is sure to observe a variety of individuals typing away on their laptops.

One may presume they are skyping or busy socializing on the internet but further interrogation can reveal that these are people who are actually busy at work, making a living as digital nomads where all one needs is a stable or not so stable Wi-Fi connection in order to make ends meet while travelling the world.

Careers that allow people to work remotely include freelance journalism, secretarial services, accounting, proposal writing or even translation services and online teaching, coaching and fitness instruction.