Technology has changed the way we do things, right? Even the most computer shy amongst us would have to admit it.
Working norms have gone out of the door – the filing cabinet and the nine to five routine. Technology has come along and restyled our offices, our homes and our working lives. Access to information and the latest thinking, the most up-to-the-minute opportunities and systems are but one swipe away.
It’s not surprise then that a ‘gig economy’ has taken off. A growing breed of digital nomads have abandoned secure employment conditions, and are flitting butterfly like over a meadow of more colourful opportunities brought to them by the digital age. They’re native in the world of technology. Why should they let you run the show when they can run their own from a tablet?
Traditional hours and workplaces are on the outer for these guys. They’re running project work from their devices, eschewing the corporate career ladder for the new freedom of decentralized work, and freedoms that money can’t buy.
Around 79% of millennial talent prefer a flexible working environment - one that comes with autonomy and transparency, and not necessarily money and status. It has a powerful pull and there’s a danger that businesses will increasingly lose employees to this new working landscape. Gone are the days when a counter-offer could be made or a bonus offered to an employee heading elsewhere. These days they have more in their sights than a better pay cheque.
Digital nomads will soon become the norm. When business leaders regroup to take advantage of this pool of creativity and talent, and both nomad and employer can really start to enjoy the potential flexibility this new arrangement brings.
Choosing a legal consultant from an online freelance platform might seem far-fetched, but it’s already a reality. One quick search and a few swipes and clicks can give you access to a wealth of talent from around the world, well suited professionals and a choice for all budgets and briefs.
New studies indicate that one in three millennials have a gig alongside their day job. They’re up-skilling rapidly, looking for projects they find pleasure in doing, and integrating work and lifestyle. This new kind of work brings with it flexibility and autonomy, and something they can be truly passionate about. It may only require investment in a few simple devices or pieces of digital kit. It sound attractive to most of us – and it’s highly appealing to this nomadic workforce.
Seductive and easy though it sounds, this new style of work isn’t without its hurdles, and they’re ongoing.
Establishing a career, even in the fast-moving digital age, takes time. It also takes commitment and dedication, mature age skills and life experience, a wide ranging knowledge base, and bravery - to say the least.
It’s ever-changing. That’s exciting, but it also means there’s no ground-hog day security - returning to your desk each morning knowing exactly what you need to do and how to do it.
Hitting your stride can be enormously challenging and requires super-human ability to focus, rather than get distracted by the domestic duties you’re surrounded by in a home office or café – the laundry, the conversation at table number four, the doorbell.
KEEP THE NOMADS IN THE TENT
So what does this mean for business owners and leaders? It means opportunity. It’s time to think about this demographic and determine exactly how they can support your endeavours. How can an employee with digital nomad inclinations be of benefit to your business? Can they bring their upskilled talents into the right kind of project under your roof? Are they gaining new talents outside of your business that you can bring in?
And how can you hold on to that digitally enabled, bright, creative and forward thinking employee? Nourishing them might mean resetting your ideas about what rewards people for their endeavours. One thing’s for sure, as the song goes, it’s not all about the money, money, money. It’s about the freedom, flexibility and lifestyle. Acknowledge that, and it might be to your advantage.
Stay a spectator in the digital age and we end up watching the talent swoosh by and not really ever grasping how to truly reach it. But help is on hand – and it’s probably in your workforce. There’s a good chance a digital nomad works for you or may one day do so. So plug in now, and make good of this new and changing genus.