The Age Of Digital Nomads: Remote Work Is Here To Stay, But How Do We Embrace It?

Woman using laptop.


For more than a decade we’ve seen a slow move towards people working outside of the office. The first move that all managers seemed to be okay with was the 24/7 accessibility to staff that cell phones and laptops provided. Most managers had no problem taking advantage of emailing at all hours or texting staff on the weekends. But when it came to flexible hours or work from home policies, many balked. They claimed, and some still claim, that giving employees that kind of freedom would make it too hard to make sure employees didn’t abuse the system.

It’s a bit ironic considering where we are in technology these days. We’re still operating from an old ‘command and control’ paradigm that evolved from the industrial revolution in the early 1900’s. It’s been hanging in there ever since. In today’s climate of COVID-19 forcing so many to rip the proverbial Band Aid off and embrace working from home, how do you set yourself and your team up to embrace it as a primary, efficient and effective way to get work done?

Leap frog into the future. Eric Plam, president at Skyroam, a global WiFi company, suggests companies should prepare to do more than just catch up with working from home. He warns that it would be a mistake to try to simply replicate the sterile office environment into employees’ homes. “Don’t be in a rush to have staff buy a big desk and monitor to set up in their home. Instead, embrace that a great deal of office work can often be done from just about anywhere.”

Lose the shame game. If the current state of business has taught us anything, it’s that work will never look the same. People have had to expose their personal sides far more than most office settings would ever deem appropriate. We’re seeing children and pets pop up on calls. People in all stages of waking up to heading to bed. And attire has gone from formal to super casual. We may not have figured out how to set boundaries in this world of blurred professional lines, but we should at least let go of the idea that working outside of the office is somehow a lazy or unprofessional person’s strategy.

Set people free. Many tech companies are working to enable organizations to operate more effectively in a global capacity. For example, Skyroam specializes in providing WiFi that’s secure but viable anywhere in the world. While, Topia, enables better tracking of employees who travel extensively for work. If we’re okay with people working out of their hotel rooms when traveling for work, why do they have to be tied to a certain location to be productive? During this time of social distancing we should broaden our perspectives forever and be okay with the work getting done in someone’s car, a park, the garage or even the mountains. If the connection is good enough and the work can be completed in this way, why do we get hung up on whether it was at a desk? If companies can ask employees to work on the road, why can’t employees ask companies to let them work where their life takes them?

Set people up for success. Right now, many people have found that they aren’t set up to effectively work from home. Their bandwidth may pale in comparison to the office building they worked in. How can you ensure your employees are set up with the equipment and connection needed to do the job? Work with your IT and HR partners to make sure resources are provided. It’s not appropriate, and in some cases, not even legal to put the cost on the employee.

Consider cybersecurity. Another reason companies should invest in providing their employees with the appropriate tools and WiFi is to ensure companies aren’t increasing their risk and vulnerability to hackers and viruses. Eric Plam recommends that any WiFi comes with WPA (WiFi Protected Access) and VPN (Virtual Private Network).

Plan for the future. There will come a day when we are not bound to our homes and will be able to travel across the country and abroad once again. Shawn Farshchi, CEO of Topia, shared that the nature and purpose of tracking the travel of employees will change dramatically. Historically, tracking of employees’ travel was needed for high-level executives traveling for long-term assignments. Then it moved to helping companies track tax information of where employees did work across the globe. In this climate, it’s been helpful for companies to stay on top of where employees have been in terms of health and exposure risks. He emphasizes that it’s critical for companies to offer opt in or opt out options to their staff to avoid breeching anyone’s privacy. The more transparency, when it comes to tracking, the better.

The age of the digital nomad has arrived. It’s going to be critical for the traditional office environment to be open to its possibilities and prepare for its advanced technological and personnel needs.

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