The Difference Between Remote Workers and Digital Nomads

Digital nomads can encourage people to become remote workers in general by showing how they have been successful. | Photo by  Matt Ragland  on  Unsplash

Digital nomads can encourage people to become remote workers in general by showing how they have been successful. | Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

In the past few years, we've been seeing more and more people opt for a non traditional lifestyle and leave their 9 to 5 jobs behind. There are more people travelling now than ever before and people are looking for different ways to experience life abroad while still earning an income. Two of these non traditional methods are remote working and digital nomad. Although they seem identical at first glance, there are quite a few differences between the two.

It’s important to define the difference between the two so we can define different audiences and workplace arrangements. A digital nomad is a remote worker, but a remote worker is not always a digital nomad.

Robert Keene, a freelance business analyst at Writinity, explains that “digital nomads are people who work for companies or manage their own business independently of a fixed location, and instead travel the world as they work. They are constantly moving to new areas to explore different countries, regions, and cultures, and settle down for certain periods of time in places where they feel best at that particular time.”

The nature of a digital nomad means that they’re not tied down to any location whether it’s because of a job, a home, or a worksite. Instead, the work can be done from anywhere. There is no physical address needed to complete the job they’re doing. The digital nomad will live in a location that matches the kind of lifestyle they want and their personality, or they’ll try something completely new or learn a new language. It’s more of a mindset and a community than anything else.

Remote workers, on the other side of the coin, are working professionals that usually stay in one place instead of travelling around and work from one specific office or home. Because of new technologies, many companies are adopting flexible work arrangements like remote work. New generations of employees are now able to work outside of the main business office, and employers are accommodating telecommuting options.

As John Daniel, an entrepreneur at Research Papers UK and explains, “some employees become remote workers either part time or full time, and some even travel and adopt the digital nomad lifestyle, but not all. Many people do not want the nomadic lifestyle and they prefer the stability their job brings and being able to live and work in one single location.”

Digital nomads are without a doubt the most well-known and public-facing subset of remote workers, because of the sheer amount of digital nomad footprint on social media and online.

Digital nomads can encourage people to become remote workers in general by showing how they have been successful.

As these trends continue to grow and we see more and more people joining the remote workforce and even becoming digital nomads, there will undoubtedly be changes to the shared workspace and coworking industry too. We’re even seeing cities and countries seek to appeal to this type of traveller and worker. However, we also need to consider what impact, if any, the digital nomad has on the city after they leave that location.

Did you know that 70 percent of all workers telecommute at least one day a week and 53 percent of workers work from home at least one day a week? This is a great piece of information, especially as women are leading the charge and more of them are entering remote workforce each year. One in three workers are freelancers. Digital nomads and remote workers are also found 13 percent more productive than office workers.

If you're seeking a different work experience than the traditional jobs we've seen in the past, consider switching careers to one that allows you to work remotely or better yet, become a digital nomad which allows you to work and travel almost anywhere in the world.

Dan Chapman, an editor for Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, has worked with many people in different contexts throughout his life. He likes to share his insights on flexible work arrangements with his readers.