Digital Nomads Increase by 131% in the Last 3 Years: Study

Date:

Key Takeaways

  • Remote work surged post-pandemic, reshaping traditional work dynamics globally.
  • Hybrid work models or fully remote setups are favored by organizations.
  • Digital nomad numbers have risen, with millions embracing freelancing.
  • Traditional jobholders increasingly identify as digital nomads for flexibility.
  • Nations create visa programs to attract nomads, eyeing economic growth.
  • Popular nomad destinations face gentrification challenges, like Mexico City.

Herndon, VA–The number of remote workers worldwide has grown exponentially since the pandemic and has had irreversible effects on worker-organization dynamics across the globe.

Although many global organizations, including Apple, Google, KPMG, etc., are in the process of shifting to a hybrid system, in which employees have to physically go to work a few days a week, a large number of companies have opted for a more cost-effective option: to make its workforce mobile.

Rise of Digital Nomads

There has also been a significant rise in digital nomad numbers in the freelance job sector. According to a 2021 study by Upwork.com, two million Americans have started freelancing in the past 12 months, contributing $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy in annual earnings this year, $100 million more than in 2020.

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According to another study conducted by freelancer job platform ‘MBO Partners,’ the number of employees embracing a nomadic lifestyle at work in the United States alone has jumped by 131% since 2019, with an estimated 16.9 million workers identifying as digital nomads, including 11.1 million who have traditional jobs (those employed full-time by an organization), a nine percent increase from the 10.2 million in 2021.

The number of traditional job holders identifying as digital nomads jumped from 44% in 2019 to 66% in 2022.

Impact and Challenges

The report finds that workers with traditional jobs mobilized during the pandemic increased significantly faster than digital nomads who are self-employed. It was recorded that were 3.2 million remote traditional workers in 2019, compared to 11.1 million this year.

Eighty-one percent reported being highly satisfied with their work and lifestyle, compared to 68% of non-digital nomads.

Many countries worldwide, particularly in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, have launched a visa program specifically for digital nomads seeing this trend. 

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Nations are competing to attract nomads and to be the next hotspot seeing the many benefits of becoming a favorite destination for digital nomads, including innovations in various fields, osmoses of skills, and positive effects on the local economy through tourism, among many others.

Gentrification Concerns

Digital Nomadism has been observed to have potentially negative effects on a country. Take the example of Mexico City, where gentrification has been pricing out locals from nomad hotspot areas/

What We Think

The evolution of remote work, evident in the rise of digital nomadism, highlights the workforce’s adaptability. While major corporations are navigating hybrid models, the surge in freelancing and nomadism reflects a desire for flexibility and autonomy.

This shift isn’t just about remote work; it’s a cultural transformation reshaping work-life balance. Nations recognizing this trend vie to attract these nomads, foreseeing economic benefits.

Yet, the cautionary tale of gentrification in cities like Mexico City prompts the need for balanced development to mitigate social repercussions. Digital nomadism’s rise signifies not just a change in work habits but a call for holistic societal planning.

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