Has your recent summer holiday got you dreaming of a life abroad? Or maybe the relentless rain that the UK has experienced over these last few months has you questioning life in sunnier climes? It probably comes as no surprise that, since 2019, the number of ‘digital nomads’ has increased by 131% from 2019. 

Defined as ‘a person who earns a living working online in various locations of their choosing, rather than a fixed business location’, digital nomads aren’t just freelancers. Companies such as AirBnB announced in 2022 their ‘work from anywhere’ policy, encouraging workers to make the most of living and working from any place of their choosing – and they’re not the first. 

Since launching our Future of Work Policy back in 2021, we’ve been trialling increased opportunities for our employees to work whilst travelling, facilitating work across countries from Spain and Italy, to Thailand and Hong Kong, and have been collecting their insights into this lifestyle along the way.

Why should companies embrace this new work lifestyle?

Forbes suggests that 81% of digital nomads are highly satisfied with their work and lifestyle, compared to 68% of non-digital nomads.

Julio Taylor, Hallam’s CEO, said: “It’s impossible to ignore these statistics when it comes to the wellbeing of your employees and attracting the best talent. The most forward-thinking companies are focusing on building new, evolved environments that allow employees and managers to thrive and grow in new dynamic, hybrid workplaces. Part of the challenge is technical, and a lot of good work is already being done by companies like Slack in this space.

“But change must start at the top — leadership teams who are desperate to go backwards, to a time before remote work, will eventually see reality for what it really is. 2019 is not coming back – not now, not ever.”

Meet our very own digital nomads

Our Senior UX Designer, Rachel, enjoyed spending time with family in Hong Kong for six weeks, our Head of Experience, Francis, spent three months working from the beaches of sunny Malaga, Spain, and Senior Marketing Executive, Meg, travelled across South East Asia for six weeks.

We asked each of them how they found working as digital nomads, and what key tips they would offer to anyone wishing to try the lifestyle for themselves.

What are the benefits of working as a digital nomad?

One key theme that everyone shared was feelings of having a much better work-life balance.

Meg said: “It opened up opportunities that I never had before, allowing me to immerse myself in a totally different way of life without having to worry about the financial risks of finding a new job abroad and leaving a job I already love.” 

Francis added: “I particularly enjoyed the chance to improve my Spanish – and getting to finish the work day on the beach tucking into a fresh paella.”

Other benefits that our team mentioned was the increase in quiet time when working from a different timezone, meaning that deeper thinking tasks were completed more efficiently.

Rachel said: “A change of scenery is great to refresh your mind which is greatly beneficial for those of us involved in creative deep-thinking work.”

Or, as Francis put it: “Sun, sun, sun, beach and sun.”

What are the negatives of being a digital nomad?

All reported slight feelings of guilt whilst working away, admitting to checking their work communications out of hours and feeling as though they weren’t doing enough or risked being seen as less valuable.

Meg said: “For me, I struggled with feeling slightly out of the loop and a little isolated at times. I usually work from Hallam’s HQ in Nottingham, so whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my out-of-work life whilst travelling, working so far away from my team had its downsides in terms of involvement and feeling part of something bigger.”

Alongside needing to get further into the habit of thinking ahead and anticipating any potential blockers, due to a difference in time zones, Rachel added: “When working a typical ‘9-5’ we of course plan and organise our workload, but we are also there to react when any changes or issues crop up. The issue with working abroad – especially in different timezones – is that you aren’t always around to react, which brings an added challenge of having to anticipate potential challenges and account for those ahead of time.”

Their top tips for making work as a digital nomad as seamless as possible

  • If you’re going to be moving about, purchase an e-sim – these are a lifesaver when you don’t know how stable the next Wifi connection you have is going to be. 
  • Always try to plan ahead and find a quiet place to work, whether this is a cafe, a private room, or your apartment. Don’t make the mistake of working from a hostel dorm!
  • Plan ahead as much as you can – let your colleagues know what times you will be working and will be reachable at, as well as making sure to update your team with what you’re working on that day so you’re all on the same page and it doesn’t create issues with delivery.
  • Try to be available for a live call with your manager or team everyday if possible – calls can help to iron out any issues or miscommunications that happen over text and can help speed up processes.

So, is it worth it?

All of our employees who’ve worked as digital nomads found it opened doors and presented opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible before, finding it an invaluable experience thoroughly improving their lives. 

The most important thing is working for a company that believes that work should exist to make life better – and not the other way around. Keep an eye on our open opportunities here or follow us on LinkedIn for all the latest career updates.