Out of the Box and Across the Globe

Working in the Age of Information

With the ever-increasing capabilities of technology more and more people are finding new and exciting ways to make a living outside their nations of birth. By making use of the advances in digital communication a growing number of self-starters and entrepreneurs are opting to set up their new ventures where the cost of living is lower, the climate is warmer, and the pace of life is a little slower.

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The wireless workplace, an evolving concept, is staffed with digital nomads, on-line entrepreneurs, cyber start-ups, and crowd-sourced correspondents. The diversity and development of digital nomads and the like are doing away with the 9 to 5 rat-race of office cubicles and punching timecards, and in their wake are creating a new environment for work in the 21st century.
When you’re a digital nomad, there is no office, no morning traffic, no commute, no annoying water-cooler gossip, nor dress-code. Just a laptop, an active mind, and a stable internet connection. The only real remnants from old ways of working are the deadlines. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to be able to finish that article on women’s fashion trends while watching the sunset from the veranda of a little bungalow facing the Andaman Sea? Or how about helping get all the programming bugs out of a new website, but not having to wake up until after 10 in the morning to do so? Better still, a tele-conference call with a potential client during a breakfast of delicious banana pancakes and a fresh mango-pineapple smoothie?

Fifteen years ago this just couldn’t be done.

But technology, especially those based on cloud storage and wireless data transmission (more importantly secured transmissions), have made those situations just mentioned, real and very often profitable possibilities. Just as technology has transformed the main sectors of employment that made up humanity’s past (the advent of refrigeration, airplanes, and the printing press), so too are the innovations of today ushering in a new kind of work. The Age of Information, as it has been called, is creating demand not only for physical products, but also a demand for content. And with the demand for content comes the need for content producers.

Enter the Digital Nomad

Businesses worldwide are shifting their customer service approaches to on-line content, in order to reach more people and provide faster and more effective services and products. And the easiest way to readily generate the kind of content a business wants and needs is to source it from digital nomads. So who are these pioneers of the new normal?

Generally speaking, a digital nomad is under 40 years old with a high level of computer savvy, usually do not have children, possess the ability to self-promote and network, are worldly well-informed, and have absolutely no desire to be stuck in one place doing the same thing day in and day out. Typically from native English-speaking countries as well as Europeans with a strong command of the English language, these people are at their core adventurous and creative.

There’s a big reason why many different businesses are looking to find digital nomads to do the work that otherwise would need to be found “in-house”. It’s because they are nomads. They don’t get stuck in a rut. They have insight and ideas from all the travelling they have done. They produce high quality work because they stake their reputation and the prospects for future employment on their products, as opposed to someone who is getting an hourly salary and is just there for the paycheck. By being highly mobile, dedicated to quality assurance, knowledgeable, and free from the kinds of stress most “typical” employees deal with, these up and coming game-changers are also a boon to businesses for another reason; increased competition. Competition tends to drive down costs, and increase quality production. The more digital nomads there are in competition to generate content-based mediums and ideas, the more likely a business will find exactly what they are looking for, and at lower price.

Life as a Digital Nomad

It’s a big world out there, and saving up the sick leave days for just a week in paradise is getting harder and harder. Digital nomads go where they want and when they want. Well, for the most part. There are certain realities to deal with. Flight cancelations, visa restrictions, a laptop going for a swim, and exotic illnesses are par for the course. But the upside; trying new foods, learning new traditions and customs, seeing with your own eyes what most will only get the chance to see by watching “Parts Unknown” (think he’s not really a digital nomad?), the choice is not a difficult one to make. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun, but 90% of the time, it is. Where digital nomads can find themselves in sticky situations is when it comes to local laws and property protection. For all their worldly insight and creativity, digital nomads will at times need some assistance. And it will probably need to come in the form of a lawyer. More than likely, it will be something simple like travel insurance or a rental agreement. So, as these young ambitious types with a disdain for cubicle-life are charting new waters in the Information Age, the old established professions beginning to adapt as well.

International law firms, especially those staffed with English-speakers, are looking to catch up with the digital nomads using their own technological innovations. On-line consultations using Skype or similar software, to reach out to the wireless workforce and provide services in a manner they are most accustomed to, is still in its infancy. But some legal teams are already pushing ahead with the idea. Isaan Lawyers, based in Thailand, has begun to offer this kind of service directed at digital nomads. Having realized there are more and more people who are breaking out of the traditional employment mold, and who are travelling to place like Thailand (low cost of living, exceptional food and beaches) to ply their hand at working on their own terms, the team at Isaan Lawyers is launching 1 hour Skype consultations for 2000 Thai Baht, which is right around 55 USD. Appointments are made, obviously, on-line.
Will this idea succeed? More than likely yes, because the wireless world of instant communication is a reality and digital nomads will only be increasing in numbers. In fact, the likelihood that other “established professions” will have to look for ways to attract digital nomads and cater to this new reality, is all but assured.

This post is also available in: French Thai