What is a Digital Nomad?
I thought I was a Digital Nomad; empowered by mobile communications, mobile computing and app-based platforms. I thought that doing my emails, writing a blog and studying a document I had been asked to review – at the beach – was the height of digital freedom.
Until I met a true Digital Nomad. One who teaches her students through a global portal providing audio, video, document and free script services. She was in Brighton last week but before that just list any ten countries you can imagine and she has been there – working as she goes.
So, back to the definition of Nomad.
Google defines a Nomad as:
“A member of a people that travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for its animals and has no permanent home.”
Wikipedia wants to be a bit broader in its definition:
“A nomad is a member of a community of people without fixed habitation who regularly move to and from the same areas, including nomadic hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and tinker or trader nomads.”
Both point to the lack of a permanent place to live (I recall tents are often involved).
Neither makes a direct connection to the emergence of a new tribe of Digital Nomads;
Free to go anywhere they think will provide the best for them or their group.
How does the emergence of a more nomadic approach to working impact the economy?
I imagine that potentially Digital Nomads have;
- Lower interest in property ownership
- Less engagement with ‘local’ communities
- Lower sense of civic responsibility for the places they transit through
- Have greater flexibility to try out new ideas, new forms of accommodation and new forms of travel
- Import new ideas and participate in innovation
- Build personal and professional relationships between places that act as ‘hubs’ for Digital Nomads
Nomads (as individuals or groups) are free to stop where they want – wherever is attractive to them. Once they stop / or even whilst travelling they engage economically with their immediate surroundings.
People need to eat, sleep, learn, recreate. All these personal needs must be provided local to the person. Even though they may be working in a bubble belonging to another part of the world entirely.
What attracts a Digital Nomad to a place?
And where are the best places to be in the world for Digital Nomads?
Ask Nomad List:
Is Brighton & Hove City on the list?
It is in there with a Nomad score of 2.9/5 (“58%”). This is lower than Bournemouth, Bristol and Nottingham! Looking through the list of factors that contribute to the score provides some pointers to how that average level of attractiveness could be improved. (Note some of the factors are crowd-sourced in real time so this score maybe different tomorrow).
Brighton & Hove City has a long-standing reputation as a place for recreation once the day’s work is done. We cannot stop work from being put outside our boarders (overseas or in the Cloud). We can at least look after this population of professionals when their day is done. Given that their work day might finish at 2 am – perhaps we need to look again at our City as a 24-hour hub for services and entertainment.
Key point: Economic value associated with ‘work’ may become more mobile and therefore transient to any specific place. However, if we can attract more Digital Nomads to our City then we can at least participate in the economic value created by their personal, professional and social needs.