Digital nomads, business travellers without permanent office…

Business travel is thriving! According to the American Express European Business Travel Barometer, the marketplace exceeded forecasts by growing by 3.1% in 2017. 2018 looks even more positive, with an increase in spending that is expected to rise by 3.4%.

We might have thought that, in the age of videoconferencing, webinars and other collaborative platforms, new technology would reduce the number of business trips. However, this is not the case. Quite the contrary! Some trends, such as bleisure, have become remarkably widespread. A meeting in Milan on Friday? Why not make the most of it and spend the weekend in Italy? When travelling for business, why shouldn’t travellers combine work with leisure? Travelling is also a good way to stimulate creativity and productivity.

Another increasingly popular trend is “digital nomadism”. Digital nomads have realised that they only need a computer, phone, Wi-Fi connection and inspiration to work. So why do it each day in the same city or behind the same desk? The proliferation of smartphones, emails, videoconferencing, web applications and cloud platforms has transformed the way we work and, even more so, how we perceive work. This concept is not exclusively limited to freelancers or entrepreneurs. Indeed, certain large firms or offices, such as Accenture, have turned it into their organisational and management model.

Some go even further than bleisure enthusiasts, by inverting the concept. Not only do they take advantage of business trips to spend a little time away from their daily lives, they create a routine of transfers, trips and discoveries which define their work schedule.

This way of life requires a certain amount of organisation in order to ensure efficiency no matter where you are. Digital nomadism is gaining ground, especially amongst a young generation in search of a better work – life balance. A generation that is happy to leave its material goods behind and does not care about lower incomes if it means being able to lead a certain lifestyle. This trend is far from being insignificant. In fact, it attracts more and more individuals in search of adventure, but who are not so eager to abandon their permanent employment contract or to freelance. Specialised companies now offer complete packages of a few weeks or months. These packages include transport, accommodation, Wi-Fi connection and access to co-working spaces which allow individuals to experience the adventure of being an all-inclusive nomad while maintaining job security.

However, becoming a nomad worker is not for everyone. It suits work that can be done in a few clicks such as graphic design, blogging, journalism, editing or translating. In other words, those who invented the term digital nomads.

It is therefore difficult to make this practice more widespread, despite its numerous benefits and the sense of freedom it provides. Becoming a digital nomad is not for everyone. It can also lead to feelings of isolation and not belonging to a structured organisation. Moreover, it can even be a source of distraction and can cause people to forget the meaning of teamwork.

So, employers are faced with a question: are companies ready for this? If we believe in the introduction of work trends and in the application of B2C in the B2B world, companies will not really have a choice. They will have to take the needs of the digital nomads that lie dormant in each and every one of us, into account. How will they integrate this concept? Today, some go as far as to include one month of digital nomadism per year within the employment contract to differentiate themselves and to “boost” their employer brand. But there is still so much that can be done!

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