The Internet and all its communication perks have given rise to a whole new generation of telecommuters and “digital nomads” (online entrepreneurs or traveling freelancers) who redefine work: Gone are the times when being physically present in an office – from 8 to 5, five days a week – was a necessity. Nowadays, if the career allows, workers do not necessarily have to show up in an office or even be in the same city or country. According to recent studies, one in five workers worldwide currently telecommutes and more than a third of Americans work remotely. These work options are linked to enormous economic and health benefits at a national level, from less traffic to less stress and fewer sick days. But that’s only the beginning – being location independent has a lot of personal advantages that go way beyond working in pajamas and not having to worry about someone stealing your (carefully labeled) lunch from the fridge. Here are our favorite benefits of being a location independent worker:
Motivation and sense of ownership
As your boss strides the office floor and your eyes continually creep to the clock whose hands seem to move in slow motion, it’s easy to wonder if this is all there is to life. Telecommuters often don’t have such concerns. For them, their desk may be the kitchen table, a home office, patio, or even their own bed. And their boss? Of course they’re waiting for the day’s tasks to be completed, but there’s no hovering as work gets done. On the flip side, a digital nomad’s income is dictated by their own productivity and market savviness, which can be stressful but in itself provides ample motivation to work hard and be creative. For the self-employed, being their own boss, while not always easy, is far worth the time investment in the early startup phase.
Immersion in different cultures
As the physical location of a telecommuter or digital nomad is not important, there’s no reason why you have to work from your home – or even your country! Imagine clocking in for the day at the other side of the world, on a beach or any other postcard-worthy view, far away from your “regular” life. Being an expat gives you instant access to a whole new culture and allows you to dive in far deeper than travelers who are just passing through. Whether by renting an apartment, getting to know neighborhood store owners, or picking a favorite coffee shop with great WiFi, expats interact with locals and forge friendships and relationships that may last a lifetime. Also, the culture of collaborative or shared workspace is huge in most cities – think London, Madrid, New York, Seattle, and Sydney – and provides another “in” to your adoptive country’s culture. For expat freelancers or remote workers, renting temporary office space means getting to know other people just like them, sometimes from around the world. Not bad for a day’s work, huh?
Possibility to learn different languages
Through location independence and immersion in new cultures, telecommuters and freelancers have the chance to learn new languages as well. After all, when five o’clock arrives, life outside of work begins, and for overseas remote workers, this will be mostly conducted in a foreign language. Interacting with locals provides excellent practical language experience, which can be complemented with language classes to get the most out of working in another country. Other classes taken in a foreign language – think dance, photography, cooking, or vocational development in your own field – also help to cement new vocabulary and keep your language training fun.