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The Great Digital Nomad Movement is Here

The number of digital nomads doubled in 2020, and since then workers around the world have embraced a life on the road. We caught up with our Customer Success Manager, Fiona Frick, who's done just that.

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The pandemic shifted the world out of the office and into their homes, but as restrictions started to lift the notion of working from anywhere really took shape. Great swathes of workers realized they were as mobile as their laptops and headed for sunnier climes.

 

Previously a lifestyle reserved for freelancers and travel bloggers, a study by MBO Partners showed the number of digital nomads in what are considered to be traditional, full-time roles rose dramatically as a result of the pandemic – from 3.2 million in 2019 to 6.3 million in 2020. 

 

The report found that nearly 11 million American workers consider themselves digital nomads – up from 4.8 million in 2018 – while 17 million aspired to become location independent over the next few years.

 

As a result, some big names such as Spotify, Twitter, Salesforce and Airbnb have announced that their workforce can work remotely as a permanent option. They’ve recognised that all their employees really need is WiFi and a laptop, and in turn their employees are just as productive and happier than ever. 

 

Idyllic destinations have answered the call with places such as Barbados, the Cayman Islands and Bali (among many others) introducing digital nomad or remote work visas to encourage workers to set up shop in the sunshine. 

 

Many businesses not only allow their employees to choose the country and city they work in, but will also provide coworking space membership for workers. If your company is one of the many offering a ‘Work From Anywhere’ policy, and you want to see more of the world, this could be your opportunity. 

 

We caught up with our very own Customer Success Manager, Fiona Frick, who has taken this exciting plunge.

 

What is a digital nomad?

 

Digital nomads are defined as those who live a ‘location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the internet-connected world.’ Sounds wonderfully liberating, doesn’t it?

 

Global Workplace Analytics says that in 2022, 56% of all workers have a job where at least some of the work can be done remotely, opening the door to a growing demographic of remote workers. But digital nomads are slightly different. They’re still remote workers, but they’re not tied down to the same four walls of the home office or required to be in one city. Digital nomads are usually traveling whilst they’re working. One day, they might work in a coffee shop in NYC, followed by a week in a coworking space near the beach in Mexico. The way of living allows them to see the world and work in whatever way they wish, whilst bringing in an income.

 

The life of a digital nomad

 

Our Customer Success Manager, Fiona Frick, decided to leave behind her hometown of Boston, MA in February 2022, and take up a digital nomadic lifestyle. She’s been doing it ever since.

 

“I gave up my apartment, moved everything into storage or to my parents, and then kicked off a week of travel without work to get into the swing of things.” said Fiona.

 

“My partner and I had both always wanted to go and live somewhere different, but previously both of our jobs meant that we were tied to a physical location. When I moved to LiquidSpace back in June 2021 we thought, why not now? Let’s get out of our comfort zones, let’s do something a little bit different and see some of the places we’ve always wanted to see.”

 

 

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Fiona, featuring Alta Mountain in Utah

 

 

The Work From Anywhere model that LiquidSpace offers was a big reason why Fiona chose to join the business. It allowed her the freedom to switch up her lifestyle. “I used to work in residential real estate, drive 40 minutes each way every day and had to be in the office five days a week. But I realized I wasn’t fulfilled. LiquidSpace has allowed me to work wherever and however I want, and that’s super appealing.”

 

Utilizing coworking spaces

 

The growth of flexible workspaces helps to explain the extraordinary rise of digital nomads. “It makes it so much easier to work, live and travel when you have all these amazing workspaces available to you.” said Fiona.

 

Fiona has utilized the LiquidSpace marketplace to find and book coworking spaces all around the U.S. “I’m typically searching for day passes, an earlier open time, and I really like to use the pictures to get a sense of what the space is like.”

 

“What kind of open area do they have? Do they have phone booths? Do the desks look like they’re comfortable? I look at all the options and pin them so I can come back to them when I arrive at that destination.”

 

One of Fiona’s highlights was the opportunity to meet different individuals who she wouldn’t have met in her previous office life. “I’ve met such a variety of people; remote workers visiting to get outside of their home, teams coming together to meet and connect, and digital nomads, like me.”

 

Plus joining a coworking space allows digital nomads to connect with locals, learn about hidden gems in the area and meet other like minded people.

 

“The individuals that run the spaces are so deeply ingrained in the local community which I really enjoyed. You really get to know them and get a sense of what it’s like to live there.”

 

 

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A ski day with two coworkers; Fiona had never met Lisa (center) or Hayley (right) before

 

 

What to expect

 

Fiona has noted a general standard that you’ll see at coworking spaces.

  • There’s always a host on site to greet you
  • It’s really easy to check in
  • You’ll typically get a tour of the space
  • There’s always great WiFi and great coffee (coworking spaces often feature local roasters!)

“Once you do it a couple of times you know what to expect. The environment, people and access might be a little different, but the nuts and bolts of it are always the same which makes it super simple.”

 

Some of Fiona’s favorite coworking locations so far:

The Shop in Salt Lake City

Salt Mine in Salt Lake City

Galvanize in Denver

Shift in Denver

Enterprise Coworking in Denver

EVO3 Workspace in Frisco

The New Work Project in Brooklyn

 

Top tips and tricks

 

Life as a digital nomad involves good planning and preparation. Fiona gives her top tips and tricks, and the tools that have helped her:

  1. Preparation is key. Whilst I’m traveling I’ll save my location on LiquidSpace and Google Maps so I can get a sense of where I’ll be. I like to get an idea of what’s in my immediate radius, so I’ll always look to find the closest coffee shop, how early they open, the closest coworking locations and whether I can park there. This makes your morning routine so much easier.
  2. Think ahead about your work day and how you need to structure it in a way that suits you. Are you on calls all morning and need a quiet space? Do you have a meeting in your hometown time zone so you need a workspace that opens earlier? It’s about making sure your workspace fits in with your calendar.
  3. Find places of interest near your coworking space and walk around the area to get to know it. The digital nomadic lifestyle means you may not be in one place for very long so you want to make sure you explore on your lunch break, or whenever you can.
  4. Rely on coworking spaces for the best WiFi. The WiFi doesn’t always work where I’m staying, and can often be a little dodgy in cafes and restaurants. Coworking spaces are great as you can always count on them to have strong, reliable WiFi.
  5. I read a lot of blogs online that help me get to know an area and the best places to explore before I’m even there. Time outside work can sometimes be limited, so you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
  6. Seek out people you know in the places you visit, or message people who have previously visited. It’s always nice to see a friendly face, people love to show you around their hometown and it’s always great to get their two cents on what to do.
  7. Make the most of time zones. I prefer to stick to my previous east coast hours, and by starting my day a couple of hours earlier it gives me the ability to end my day a little earlier than I usually would. This gives me an extra few hours each day to go out and enjoy some fresh air and have the flexibility to explore the place I’m living.
  8. Make sure to carve out time in the evenings or weekends to enjoy where you are too. Work is really important, but you have to find time to enjoy dinners and where you are in the world. For me, a big pull of doing this was being able to ski at the weekend. 
  9. And really, genuinely LiquidSpace - having one place to explore all the available coworking in small towns or big cities is so helpful, rather than trying to search them out.

 

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In Denver, Fiona stayed at her cousin’s house while she was out of town and dog sat for her. This is Winnie who joined her for a coworking day.

 

 

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

 

The Good

 

The benefits of a digital nomadic lifestyle are well-documented, much to the envy of 9-5 office workers. The flexible approach to work has been proven to make employees happier, healthier and more productive.

 

“My work has been uninterrupted, and my productivity hasn’t decreased in any way. If anything, I feel more excited and energized to come to work.” says Fiona.

 

As Customer Success Manager, Fiona has also enjoyed adopting a work model that she is helping her clients achieve, giving her personal insight into the world of coworking and firsthand experience of what’s important.

 

“Having the ability to do what I’m telling my clients to do - to go and work from where it works and empower your employees with choice - is really special. It’s great to know that I can be productive and I’m able to find places where I can get work done, somewhere that isn’t a traditional office or my apartment. It’s true, you really can do it.”

 

The Bad

 

Fiona has experienced some unexpected downsides which has made her new lifestyle all the more eye-opening. “In Salt Lake City, we lived in a condominium development 20 minutes south of the city. It was a really accessible Airbnb with a garage, plenty of space, two separate work spaces in case I wanted to work from home, but it was a really isolating experience. It was the dead of winter, we didn’t meet anyone, and neighbors kept to themselves.

 

“Whereas in Denver, we lived in an area where I would often see and chat to my neighbors, and I could walk out my door and go for a walk which I couldn’t do in Salt Lake.

 

“I’ve learnt more about myself, and through this journey I’ve come to understand what I want to find, where I’d like to live next and what’s important to me.”

 

The Ugly 

 

“You never know what chair you’re going to get.” said Fiona. “A hard, wooden, unstable stool in a cafe or a sturdy, adjustable, ergonomic chair in a coworking space. That’s why you should always pick the coworking space!”

 

A growing trend?

 

As surveys show, Fiona is one of many taking on this way of life, and lapping up the benefits.

 

“I see this being a growing trend, especially as more and more businesses give their employees the option to Work From Anywhere. I really hope and think more people will do this, particularly for young professionals who don’t have significant ties or responsibilities - if you’re petless (although lots of coworking spaces allow dogs!), have no children, and you don’t have a mortgage to pay.”

 

“You get to see and be in different places, and live like a local, which you don’t get to do when you’re on holiday. It’s just not the same. You get to know about all the best restaurants and enjoy your hobbies. I’ve been able to ski all over the U.S. which isn’t something I could do on the east coast.”

 

“Having the opportunity to do this brings so much more energy and excitement to my work. I feel more appreciative and grateful. I’m able to go and enjoy the mountains in Sun Valley, but then show up to work the next morning feeling energized. Your life is something entirely new.”

 

Whether you’re part of a multinational corporation, a start-up or a self-employed consultant or freelancer,  you or your employees - can book a space by the hour, day or month in any one of LiquidSpace’s 13,000 locations across the world. 


Discover how the LiquidSpace marketplace can help you or your team embrace life as a digital nomad here: https://liquidspace.com/

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