The Importance of Differentiating Telecommuters and Digital Nomads

When you think of a ‘remote worker’, what images come to mind? If your plan involves taking a picture of your laptop in a beautiful, exotic location, we would kindly ask you to reconsider. It is important to distinguish between a remote worker and a digital nomad, as they are not the same thing.

In the early 1990s, the concept of an employee was much simpler. People would don smart business attire, make the daily journey to the office, and spend the working day surrounded by colleagues. However, as the World Wide Web developed and connection speeds increased, the opportunity to work from home became increasingly attractive.

If you had access to dial-up or ISDN connection at your place of residence, it would be possible to log into your office’s network remotely, allowing you to access your locally stored files. Although working from home was a possibility in those days, it was usually only utilized in the event of an absolute necessity.

As technology advanced, the speed and reliability of networks improved. Initially, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enabled us to have consistent conversations, and eventually allowed for High Definition (HD) video calls, making it possible to see each other clearly. In response, software developers created a wide range of applications to enable remote workers to stay in touch with each other, irrespective of whether they were in different locations or working from the same place.

As we stand in the present day, the internet is accessible almost everywhere and 5G is continually improving connection speeds. This means that now it is possible to undertake a greater range of activities from a distance than ever before. However, does this mean that every remote worker is sipping a cocktail while lounging on a beach in Bali? Certainly not.

Remote Employee Typicality

Over the years, we have been striving to raise awareness of the true nature of remote working, ever since it first became prominent. In the past, there were assumptions that those who worked from home were idle and spent their days watching daytime TV; more recently, there has been the misconception that remote working is only accessible to those who lead a life of travel, or ‘digital nomads’.

It has been reported by Global Workplace Analytics that the typical remote worker is a 45-year-old white male who is employed by a firm with more than 100 employees. However, we would like to point out that telecommuters are essentially no different from any other employee who does not have to physically go to a workplace.

It is widely accepted that most jobs require employees to be present during ‘office hours’ to facilitate communication between colleagues. When we are sourcing talented technical professionals for our clients, we always recommend that remote workers make an effort to share office hours with the main office, no matter where in the world they may be located. Many of our customers are willing to make certain concessions in exchange for a greater overlap with office hours; however, this arrangement is not suitable for those with a hectic travel schedule.

Being a Digital Nomad

The term ‘digital nomad’ only gained traction after the 2007 release of Timothy Ferriss’ ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’. This book suggested that it was possible to realize one’s ambitions while travelling the world, working only a few hours a week; this idea has since been adopted as the accepted definition of a digital nomad.

Although it is true that some individuals are able to manage their work in such a way that their physical location is not a priority and they are able to work independently, these individuals are in the minority. Their jobs usually do not require them to be present for traditional office hours or to collaborate as part of a team. We acknowledge those who are able to achieve a successful work/life balance in this way and appreciate that, in most cases, they still put in more than four hours of work each week.

Mickael Romaniello emphasized that although it is possible to maintain a mobile lifestyle while also meeting professional requirements, it isn’t necessarily an easy feat. He suggested that it can be a fantastic option for those who wish to embrace it, however it is not the traditional notion of remote work.

Contrast: Digital Nomad with Remote Employee

It is important to understand the distinction between a remote worker and a digital nomad, as the implications of this difference are significant. Despite our ongoing efforts to educate people about the many advantages of employing remote workers, there is still an unfortunately widespread belief that remote workers are not motivated or dedicated to their work. This misconception is both inaccurate and damaging, and should be addressed by those in positions of authority.

It is important to note that a remote worker is typically a full-time employee, while a digital nomad is more likely to be a part-time worker. Despite their part-time status, digital nomads are highly skilled, committed, and motivated, making them an invaluable asset to any organization. The recruitment of remote workers is a great way to source top-notch developers, however, some people may be hesitant to do so because of inaccurate perceptions about what it means to promote the digital nomad lifestyle.

What to Look for in a Trustworthy Freelance Worker Abroad

It is imperative to have all job specifications established before starting to search for a global talent. Questions to consider include when and how team members should check in, the extent of freedom afforded to them, and the hours of work required. Whilst it is acceptable to place restrictions on when and where an individual can work, it is recommended to focus more on the output of the employee rather than simply the amount of time spent at their computer.

Do not fear if you are not confident about sourcing remote staff. At Works, we specialize in providing remote staffing solutions to businesses. We can help you to find the most suitable remote workers from all over the world and verify their compatibility with your company culture. If you do not wish to allow remote workers, then you can rest assured that you will not receive any candidates from us. Would you like to find out more about the services that we offer? Get in touch with us now to learn more.

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