The Importance of Differentiating Telecommuters and Digital Nomads

What mental pictures do you conjure when thinking of a ‘remote worker’? It’s crucial to differentiate between remote workers and digital nomads, as the latter are not synonymous with the former. We implore you to relinquish the notion of photographing your laptop in a picturesque, exotic location as the epitome of remote work.

Back in the 1990s, the concept of an employee was fairly straightforward. Employees would dawn professional business attire, commute to the office on a daily basis, and carry out their work in the company of their colleagues. However, with the advent of the World Wide Web’s advancement and faster network speeds, the opportunity to work remotely from home slowly began to gain traction and popularity.

In times past, if you had access to slow dial-up or ISDN connections, it would permit you to remotely log into your office’s network, making it feasible to access locally stored files. However, working remotely from home was only considered a viable option if the situation absolutely called for it.

Thanks to technological advancements, networks have become faster and more reliable. Initially, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allowed us to have uninterrupted conversations, but it also paved the way for High Definition (HD) video calls, enabling clear video communication as well. As a result, numerous software developers conjured up a variety of applications, facilitating remote workers to conveniently stay connected with each other, regardless of whether they were working from different locations or from the same place.

As of today, the internet is conveniently available almost everywhere, and with continual advancements being made to establish ever-increasing connection speeds through 5G, the scope of tasks that can be accomplished remotely has grown exponentially. That being said, does it necessarily follow that every remote worker is living it up, idly sipping a cool cocktail whilst reclining on a beach in Bali? Most certainly not.

The Typicality of Remote Employees

Over the years, we have consistently endeavored to educate people about the authentic nature of remote work ever since its inception. Initially, stereotypes abounded that people who worked remotely from home were simply lazy, spending their days watching daytime TV. More recently, there has been a common misconception that remote work is only a lifestyle choice for travelers, or ‘digital nomads’.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, the archetypal remote worker is a white male aged 45 years, working for an organization with more than 100 employees. Nonetheless, we consider it important to emphasize that telecommuters are not essentially different from any other employee who is not required to commute to a physical workplace.

It is widely accepted that most jobs mandate that employees be present during ‘office hours’ to ensure effective communication between colleagues. Whenever we seek out talented technical professionals for our clients, we make it a priority to recommend that remote workers endeavor to sync their working hours with the main office’s hours, irrespective of their physical location. Several of our clients are willing to make certain allowances in order to ensure greater overlap with the office hours, although this may not be feasible for those with busy travel schedules.

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

The expression ‘digital nomad’ gained widespread currency only after the publication of Timothy Ferriss’ ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ in 2007. The book posited the notion that it was achievable to fulfill one’s dreams while travelling around the globe, working for just a few hours each week. This idea has since been embraced as the definitive definition of a digital nomad.

While it is factual that a select few individuals are capable of handling their work responsibilities in a manner that does not place emphasis on their physical location, and are able to function independently, such individuals are in the minority. Generally, their work does not bind them to observe traditional office hours or mandate collaboration with other team members. We duly recognize those who are able to strike a successful work/life balance in this way, while also acknowledging that, in most cases, they dedicate more than four hours of work each week.

Mickael Romaniello underlined that while it is viable to sustain a nomadic way of life while fulfilling professional obligations, it is not a simple feat to accomplish. He contended that for individuals who aspire to pursue this lifestyle, it can be a great option, but it isn’t a typical form of remote work in the traditional sense.

Comparison: Digital Nomad versus Remote Employee

It is crucial to comprehend the difference between a remote worker and a digital nomad, since the implications of this contrast are significant. Despite our constant endeavors to enlighten people about the numerous benefits of hiring remote workers, there is still a prevalent belief that remote workers lack motivation or commitment to their work. This misconception is both inaccurate and detrimental, and must be addressed by individuals in positions of authority.

It is worth noting that a remote worker is typically a full-time employee, whereas a digital nomad is more likely to have a part-time work status. Despite their part-time work arrangement, digital nomads are endowed with high levels of skill, dedication, and motivation, which make them an extremely valuable asset to any organization. Recruiting remote workers is an excellent strategy to source outstanding developers, yet some individuals may have reservations about doing so because of misguided perceptions about promoting the digital nomad lifestyle.

Qualities to Seek in a Dependable International Freelancer

It is of utmost importance to have a clear understanding of all job requirements before commencing a search for talented individuals across the globe. Pertinent questions to consider include when and how team members should check in, the level of autonomy granted to them, and the number of work hours expected. While it is acceptable to impose certain restrictions on where and when an individual can work, it is advisable to give more emphasis to the employee’s output, rather than merely the duration spent at their computer.

If you feel uncertain about the process of sourcing remote staff, there is no need to worry. At Works, we specialize in providing bespoke remote staffing solutions to businesses. We can assist you in finding the most compatible remote workers from across the globe, and ensure that they align with your organizational culture. If you prefer not to consider remote workers, you can be assured that we will not provide any such candidates. Would you like to learn more about our services? Reach out to us today to explore further.

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