In your opinion, what would be the trending job-related ‘wannabe’ and fantasy many people, especially millennials, have these days? I would definitely vote for keywords such as flexibility, meaningfulness, entrepreneurship, global travel and digital… basically everything that is so well captured and ‘romanticized’ by digital global work, or a digital nomad lifestyle. Even without looking for specific survey evidence, it is safe to assume that being free from a traditional 9-5 office schedule is something that millennials and the upcoming Gen Z workforce are longing for. And that is not surprising, given the common portrayal of digital nomads. Just try to google for images of ‘digital nomads’, and you will find a multitude of images that are strikingly similar in their message. They usually contain sun, nature, a beach scenario or a cozy café, mixed with a laptop and ‘chill vibe’. Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want less work, and more fun? Who wouldn’t want less traditional structure and more freedom and creativity? Who wouldn’t want to exchange early mornings with watered down coffee-machine coffee for chilled out afternoons by the beach with a tropical cocktail?
Naturally, the fantasy wouldn’t be so appealing if it wasn’t so idealized. Similar to the ease of finding idyllic images, it doesn’t take very long to find and read about the real experiences of nomads, who often feel the loneliness of such a lifestyle, wouldn’t recommend sand and sun as a laptop-friendly environment, and definitely work more than a couple of hours each day. Finally, let’s remind ourselves that not all jobs can be done remotely, not everyone is willing to ‘live out of suitcase’ and do freelance or entrepreneurial work, and last but not least, corporate jobs still constitute the biggest share of the job market. Traditional corporate work culture cannot and should not be dismissed, yet, maybe there is still something to listen to amid all this buzz about digital nomads?
I would suggest that corporate businesses should not overlook the trending desires for flexibility, excitement and global mobility of the younger generations. Indeed, several progressive work policies are finding their ways into corporate culture. First of all, due to technological development many companies are looking into providing more telecommuting opportunities to their employees, which sounds like more flexibility. Second, as discussed in one of my earlier posts, there is a growing trend towards ‘bleisure’ travel, which combines business travel with vacation. Finally, I believe another interesting practice could be borrowed, at least partially, from digital nomads – the so-called ‘workations’.
As described in a relevant Forbes article, companies are increasingly allowing digital nomads to come together and embark on travel together, all the while networking, and working remotely. These are also called nomad retreats and, according to CNN, there are plenty of programs, lasting from between one month to a year, which provide participants with accommodation, co-working space, travel and entertainment—and all that in one package. Again, this sounds like a nomad’s paradise, yet, some start-up companies seem to have embraced the idea and use such workations for the benefit of both, company and employees.
Taking this idea to the realms of multicultural corporations seems very viable to me. What could be a better way to reward employees, while at the same time creating opportunities for team building, development of cultural intelligence (by bringing culturally diverse employees together), and fueling creativity and innovation? Seems like a win-win opportunity to me J