The rise of the digital nomad—professionals who work fully-remote jobs and move locations frequently—has opened up new opportunities for people seeking work outside of traditional corporate infrastructure. While these workers are typically stereotyped as millennials or Gen Zers earning low salaries, this is actually false, according to a new report from FlexJobs.
The report surveyed more than 500 digital nomads, and found the average digital nomad is actually a married female Gen Xer with a bachelor's degree or higher, who is an experienced employee working for a company at least 40 hours a week in the writing, education and training, or administrative career fields. This person has health insurance and saves for retirement.
"There are a number of misconceptions about digital nomads, such as that only young millennials going through a phase are interested in the lifestyle, that they're freelancers that don't earn a decent living, or they can't grow a great career while traveling, none of which is validated by this data," Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, said in a blog post. "Practicing nomads can be found across demographics and career fields, and they're hard-working professionals who for a variety of reasons like work-life balance, poor local job market, or a passion for travel, are committed to earning a living in a nonconventional way."
SEE: Telecommuting policy (Tech Pro Research)
Digital nomads can also command a high salary, the report found: 18% of these professionals reported making more than $100,000 per year, while 22% make between $50,000 and $99,999. Meanwhile, the average US worker earns roughly $46,600 per year. Some 38% of respondents said they feel less financially stressed as a digital nomad, while 34% said they experience no difference in stress from when they worked a traditional job, according to the report.
The majority of digital nomads are Gen Xers (41%), compared to 27% who are Gen Z or millennials, and 32% who are baby boomers or in the silent generation. The majority of digital nomads (35%) are employed by a company, instead of being freelancers (28%) or business owners (18%), the report found.
Digital nomads said their top challenges are finding reliable Wi-Fi (52%), finding a good place to work (42%), networking (35%), time zones (29%), and work communications (20%). The top benefits are a flexible schedule (85%), no commuting (65%), freedom to live and work anywhere (65%), work-life balance (63%), no office politics (52%), and no dressing up for work (51%), the report found.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- 18% of digital nomads report making more than $100,000 per year, while 22% make between $50,000 and $99,999. — FlexJobs, 2018
- The majority (41%) of digital nomads are Gen Xers. — FlexJobs, 2018
- Interview tips: How to land your next tech job (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Going beyond hardware for remote work (ZDNet)
- How to become a developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Companies that support remote work experience 25 percent lower employee turnover (and other findings) (ZDNet)
- Rise of the digital nomad: Why working remotely could draw more millennials to the tech industry (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.