Digital Nomads – what is your definition of this new phenomenon? Do you consider yourself one?
Digital Nomads are people who use telecommunication technologies to make their living and they lead a nomadic way of life. They usually work remotely – from home, from cafes, public libraries or co-working spaces, and they can be anywhere in the world provided there is a reliable internet connection. Thus, they perform the tasks traditionally carried out in an office.
This way of working is quite popular in the US, Australia and some European countries. In Bulgaria, in my opinion, it is still gaining popularity, mainly among IT specialists, content makers and digital marketers, but almost every job that is done on a computer in an office can be carried out remotely. There is no doubt that remote work arrangements are on the rise.
A recent Toptal survey of 1,000+ global leaders and executives found out that over half of the respondents expect an increase in remote work. By contrast, only five percent expect the amount of remote work to decline. Beyond the empirical data provided in the study, there are clear reasons why the volume of flexible work arrangements will continue to grow.
On the one hand, the new communication technologies make it easier to collaborate globally in real-time. On the other hand, the growth of online recruitment platforms allows for finding talent regardless of where they are in the world and provides an effective mechanism for their temporary recruitment. These networks allow employers to hire a specific set of skills without incurring costs related to administrative issues, visa problems, and so on.
Together, these trends offer redistribution of knowledge and skills within the framework of the talent economy. The combination of advances in collaborative technologies and platforms that match relevant skills to business needs create better connectivity and provide more choice for both employers and employees.
Yes, I consider myself a digital nomad and I’m trying to promote this way of life and work. I want to emphasize that the difference is not in the way of work, but rather in the way of life. Being a digital nomad is very motivating for highly organized people, oriented towards completing tasks on time and up to a standard. For digital nomads, there is often no distinction between work and leisure. Working hours sometimes may well exceed those required in an office. And let us not forget the challenges that the different time zones often pose before them.
Just before Christmas (2016), I took part in a Co-working Camp – a temporary co-working space for collaboration, which was attended by entrepreneurs, freelancers, and digital nomads from all over the world. These people had decided that they wanted “to get work done in the winter sun” for several weeks. I met very interesting people from different countries out there. The organizers have been running a successful co-working space – Coworking Bansko since the beginning of 2017.
Is there any culture among the business in Bulgaria to be flexible when assigning remote or part-time work?
Business in Bulgaria in this regard – hiring people remotely, in my opinion, is still quite conservative. It does not take into account the differences that different people are motivated by. For example, some are more productive in the morning, other in the evening. If the tasks for the day / week / month and the deadlines for their implementation are clear, the mechanisms for implementing the working process would not be a problem.
Why is there fear or is it rather a strong conservatism?
Most managers continue to prefer their employees to work in an office rather than being physically far away from their colleagues. However, it is obvious that remote work, carried out by agile talents, is already very popular in upscale functions and industries. In the middle of June this year, Automattic, the company behind the popular WordPress platform and a bunch of other businesses, decided to shut down its office in San Francisco. Most of the company’s employees – over 500 people scattered in more than 50 countries around the world, have been working full-time for a long time – from their homes, cafes or where they choose from.
Which are the most suitable jobs for freelance and remote work?
The share of people with remote work arrangements is growing in professions such as IT, marketing, project management, human resources management, etc. Where the vital thing is what and how you do, the place from which you do it gets irrelevant. Some people are more organized in the office, others are more productive when they choose where and when to work – some are early birds, others – night owls. Flexible work arrangements are owlsome 😉 for night owls.
There are already several co-working places in Bulgaria. Are they used by Bulgarians or mainly by foreigners?
Yes, their number is constantly growing. I know Bulgarians working in co-working spaces, as well as many foreigners. The community in Bansko, for example, does not stop surprising me with more and more new people from near and far away countries.
How does it feel working in a co-working space? What are the benefits?
It’s great! Internet connections are fast and reliable. People are different and if you need advice, there is always someone to turn to. And no one is a boss or a subordinate there. Everyone is focused on their tasks. Very often people have fun together in their spare time. This mini site I made as a volunteer during the Co-working Camp in sunny Antalya will give you an idea of how it feels working remotely.
And here is a short video.
About the author
Rayna Tzvetkova is a marketing and digital communications professional. She has worked for ING, DDB, Groupama, and as a digital nomad for SDSD, Cargill, and Croud. Since 2008 she has been keeping a personal blog on topics that inspire her – books, travel, people. She loves working and travelling and deeply believes that people are more productive when they are happier at work. Rayna recently started an HR innovation category on her blog. In her view the recruitment market needs disrupting, allowing for flexible work arrangements.
The interview in Bulgarian can be found here >>>