Working in an office once used to be the norm, yet now, it seems like something from a faraway past. Working remotely has been up and coming for a while but since the pandemic started, it really took off. All of a sudden, people were obliged to work from home. Coming into the office wasn’t a thing anymore. And surely, after a while, restrictions were lifted but so were our blinkers. Why did we bother all that time to go to work if we could just as well get our tasks done at home? Or elsewhere? Because working remotely can just as easily be done from our home desk as from a villa in Spain, just to give an example.
Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the number of digital nomads has multiplied since the start of the pandemic. According to research from MBO Partners, in 2020 alone, there were 49% percent more American digital nomads than the year before (10,9 million versus 7,30 million) and we reckon the United States haven’t been the only country to experience such a rise. In times where international travel took a big hit and many destinations were struggling to get those tourists back, many countries decided to grant special ‘digital nomad visas’ to remote workers. Portugal, Barbados and Island are just a few of the many destinations making it easier for digital nomads to settle down for a year or two. Great if you want to shake up your desk area and great for the national economy. Win-win.
Yet, like always, there’s also a downside to that rising number of digital nomads. The aviation industry represents 3% of the global CO2 emissions and no matter how you look at it, being a digital nomad often means hopping on a plane every so-often. Especially the cliché twenty-something nomads we’ve all got in mind, who spend their days sipping on a cocktail in Bali one week only to be surfing in Portugal the week after. Yet as we as a species get more aware about our environmental impact, so do remote workers.
Meet the slomad. In short, slomads try to integrate some of the slow travel principles into their digital nomad lives. This means staying longer in the same location and really getting to know a destination, yet there’s more to it. Just like when you’re living a ‘normal’ life, it’s not too difficult to make your digital nomad life a little greener. Opting for train travel instead of plane rides, trying to create as little waste as possible, opting for small businesses instead of giant hotel chains… As consumers, every choice we make sends out a message and that’s no different when it comes to digital nomads.
And apparently, slomading is a trend. According to a survey from Fiverr and Lonely Planet, 55% of digital nomads are choosing to stay for three months or longer in the same destination. By doing so, they limit their CO2 emissions and instead of continuous travelers, they turn into what the research likes to call ‘anywhere workers’. This different approach also means that the whole working abroad thing gets more family friendly – about 70% of the anywhere workers are parents taking their family with them.
As far as destination go, Thailand, the United States, Spain, Japan and Portugal are amongst the most popular and it seems like slomads prefer to stay closer to home than your average digital nomad. Better for the environment and more convenient if, for some reason, you’d need to head back to your home country in case of emergency. And things aren’t about to change. Restrictions may have lifted around the globe but digital nomads don’t want to return to their desks. 98% of the correspondents surveyed by Lonely Planet and Fiverr want to continue living the way they do. Maybe, in the future, we’ll all be slomading our way around the globe?