The Nomad Generation and the Future of Work
Globalization, technological innovation, Artificial Intelligence and automation are driving significant changes in work models and employment structures across the world. An increasing tribe of new generation workers is deciding to work on their own terms, from places of their own choosing. Taking a unique approach to problem solving and income creation, they are realizing their potential through a new-found freedom to live the life they want, while being productive and delivering value to organizations dispersed across diverse geographies. They are the digital nomads, a growing demographic of location-independent professionals, living and traveling at will, working digitally to produce services for businesses.
The phenomenon of working from a remote location has been termed as 'remote work', 'gig economy' and 'telecommuting', although these labels only characterize the 'work' aspect and not the lifestyle. In 1997, Hitachi executive Tsugio Makimoto and Electronics Weekly writer David Manners published their book "Digital Nomads" predicting that smaller and more powerful computer chips, along with new mobile devices and greater internet connectivity, would lead to a revolution in how people worked, lived, and traveled. Today that is a reality, connecting remote workers from the beach to the boardroom.
Ubiquitous Internet connectivity with high bandwidth has sparked a phenomenal growth in remote work during the last decade. According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005. By 2018, 4.3 million people were already working remotely in the US, growing to 7 million by the end of 2019.
Recent events have demonstrated that industries across the board are now primed for adopting new modes of employment and work modules. Technology companies have had the greatest incentive for embracing the virtual workplace, attracting diverse talent from across the globe, and scaling rapidly without investing on real estate. As a technology company, Dell’s Connected Workplace program is a strategic business initiative that started a decade ago, that allows team members to choose the work style that best suits them. The ongoing situation has given us the opportunity to rethink the future of work and we believe that connected workplace 2.0 will be the future of working.
The gig economy’s primary product is work. Digital platforms provide a showcase for talent across a wide range of expertise. While some are large-scale marketplaces for relatively low-value services, other platforms cater exclusively to high-end proficiency. The task of the platform is to introduce talent to organizations seeking competence.
This has created an ‘On-Demand Economy’ with a fundamental restructuring of the labor market, proclaiming the end of the 'job' that powered the industrial age, and the beginning of true 'work'. The nomad generation is free to choose interesting work, and partner with organizations they admire and trust. By reducing payroll costs and overheads such as rent and utilities, businesses grow more agile and competitive. According to a Global Workplace Analytics study, nearly six out of ten employers identify cost savings as a significant benefit to remote working.
The nomad generation is also delivering higher productivity. A Stanford University research has shown that remote workers are 13% more productive. Another study by Owl Labs study revealed that remote workers themselves report 79% increased productivity without the distractions of office.
Working and traveling across the world, the new generation of workers also bring diverse experiences to the table. They are building portfolio careers, where they are able to gather experience in several spheres of expertise across different projects. Not being tied down to a rigid employment structure, they are able to have increasingly diverse and fulfilling experiences that let them gain inter-disciplinary knowledge which is the requirement of our evolving industry.
Technology-mature companies are now seeking talent with hybrid profiles. From biotech companies to steel manufacturers, organizations now have target profiles that ask for expertise in biology and proficiency data science, and knowledge of steelmaking as well as data science. Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, who conducts research on the effects of information technologies on the economy, also holds that a combination of technical knowledge, creativity and interpersonal skills are the winning combination that organizations will need in the near future.
The nomad generation is defined by their freedom to work from anywhere, where the only requirements are talent and connectivity. They travel the world savoring diverse cultures, becoming global citizens who view the entire planet as their home. They develop a nuanced understanding of global issues such as ecology and climate change. They become better equipped to align technologies with public purpose and integrate social concerns into business models and product design. With their deeper insights into local issues and indigenous communities, the new generation of workers is all set to usher in an era of responsible innovation for a sustainable future.