People are expected to commute for long hours and be flexible with their own time. Individuals adapt to jobs, not the other way around. Liberalism is the nomadism of salariat and profit: companies are getting increasingly mobile to access bigger markets and generate more profit. Neo-nomadism was initiated by sedentaries for sedentaries, to ensure a flow of goods and services resulting in economic growth. Companies are compelled to adapt to the quest for profit and the strong competition resulting from globalization. It's an amoral race for productivity where the most efficient organizations survive. Contracts trump laws: delocalization is a striking example of a quest for profit ignoring basic human rights. Services are getting increasingly mobile and exportable. Middlemen are removed (uberization) to put individuals and professionals in contact directly. Taylorism, Fordism, and similar work structures lead to more specialization, blocking social traffic among citizens. Modern sedentary work is confinement, an obvious lack of flexibility slowly turning into sclerosis.
Rethinking work is essential. Remote work is an immense opportunity, yet relatively recent, mysterious, and mostly misunderstood. It's interesting to note that the term "travel" comes from the old French "travail", which means "work". The word "travail" originates from the Latin "tripalium", an instrument of torture. From an etymological point of view, travel is closely related to work, and torture. Work defines the nomad: you need a plan to sustain yourself financially, which is a challenge of digital nomadism in itself.
I spent six months in South-East Asia this year. I experienced new cities and met new people, but I did not live it to the fullest. I was spending most of my time working from my Airbnb studio. Job stability is usually not synonymous of nomadic life, because that's just not how companies are designed. Digital nomads are mostly freelancers, creatives and/or tech workers. They don't work from the beach. You can go remote or work locally. Remote work, teaching, and wwoofing are among the jobs favored by full-time travelers. The best talent will want to go remote. It's already part of some company employee benefits packages.
Anyone can become a nomad, but it is not for everyone. This is why the first and most essential step is to assess whether this lifestyle suits your individual aspirations or not. Digital nomadism is demanding in terms of self-knowledge. It takes a lot of self-control to implement the right routine for you to get the work done and to stick to your new habits. Your environment often changes, and if you are not capable to quickly adapt, your work/life balance is impacted. Travel is a double-edged sword that can make or break your productivity. The good news is that it can be learned.
You need a good reason to make the change. Otherwise, you are bound to be crushed by a tough reality. Sedentism is alright too. If nomadism is not for you, it’s okay. Digital nomadism is overhyped at times. There are many reasons to travel, which I already categorized into three profiles: Achilles, Ulysses, and Oedipus. It's nothing scientific, but those are good indicators to situate you. If you are an Oedipus, moving places can help you run away from realities, but not for long. You can be an Achilles and do it for glory, for the smell of adventure, because it's what you live for deep down. I am more of a Ulysses: I travel out of necessity. I consider travel not as an end-goal but as a tool for growth. Many resources cover this topic already, but when it comes to nomadism, the 4-Hour Workweek is already a classic. To Ferris[%ferris%], the "New Riches" are those who value time and mobility more than money. It’s a currency on its own. Our generation doesn't seek job stability but growth, new experiences. Going remote is a way to free yourself from a work routine to leave room for the present. Money as a tool, rather than a master.
Quitting your job is an option. Time is too precious to justify an alienating job. Quitting a job is no failure, it's not abandoning: it’s a change, a movement, an evolution, which allows breaking free from a dehumanizing routine while signaling a thirst for improvement. It’s indeed easier for remote-friendly jobs, nevertheless, behaviors are evolving and digitalization is spreading: solutions are possible.
Before finding a good reason or a good opportunity to go remote, you have to actually get used to remote work. I'm not going to talk about how to get a remote gig. There are already plenty of articles about it. Tim Ferris' 4 Hour Workweek proposes a strategy to negotiate a remote position at your current job. Getting remote work usually implies you already had experience working remotely. A lifestyle is just a set of habits to integrate into your daily life. It's best to start small when you build new habits. Digital nomadism is no different. Find a nearby city in your home country. Relocate there for a week with your friends, your family, or your lover. Or go visit someone for a short time on your own. Maximize your comfort zone, and do some work. Feel how your body and mind react. To be able to work efficiently, you will need a minimum of comfort. It is okay to go to backpackers hotels, but you will need a desk and good Wi-Fi. A bad Wi-Fi network will kill your productivity. I started my own transition slowly, without knowing it in fact. I had a Macedonian friend at the time, so I seized the opportunity to visit her home country for two weeks while studying remotely. I was studying remotely in Stockholm anyway, so I just decided to use this opportunity to travel and spend time discovering a new culture. As long as I was delivering my assignments and reading/watching the lectures, no questions were asked. The more you experiment, the more you will get to know yourself. Learning about your limits is important. Figure out how long you can sustain being in a given place. How your social life is impacted. Whether you manage to make new friends or not. If you can maintain a good work/life balance. How working without colleagues physically by your side impacts your work. How long before you start missing your friends and family? And so on... Digital nomadism is full of hardships you have to experience for yourself, with sustainability in mind.
Every nomad is different, you have to set on this personal journey to come up with your own answers. I believe that faced with total freedom an order comes naturally out of it, but it takes some adaptation time. The values of alter-nomadism must be adapted to each individuality. Ferris proposes the DEAL (Definition, Elimination, Automation, Liberation) methodology. It is about defining your dreams and desires through introspection work. This thought process allows you to define quantified financial needs. Once your objectives are clearly defined, an aspiring nomad can learn to master his own time to get closer to his/her own vision by iteration.
A digital nomad makes a contract with the institutions: "Reality is negotiable [...] and it doesn't require being unethical". This contract allows him to take back control of his own time, of his own life. One must justify his/her own choices while understanding what society expects from its members: to create wealth. Traveling favors the development of important skills - such as negotiating, planning, improvising, etc. - or to boost your own productivity by choosing your own schedule (everyone works differently). But digitalization and remote work are not just a way to decrease costs or increase your personal comfort. The promises of remote work can be much more thought-provoking: the decentralization of the job market could result in dynamizing and capitalizing on more remote regions, freeing time and decreasing our environmental impact by reducing the commuting burden, or empowering local communities by avoiding brain drains.