Is the Office Obsolete?

“Digital nomads” hit the workforce – are employers paying attention?

It’s no secret that today’s device-driven world is impacting our work environment from top to bottom. Smartphones and tablets have virtually replaced the need for a full-size desktop computer, and sophisticated applications that previously resided on-premises can now be stored, shared and accessed at the drop of a hat from anywhere in the world via the cloud. But perhaps the greatest evolution happening to the traditional office has less to do with the place and more to do with the people.

What does digital nomad mean?

The term “digital nomad” refers to the next-generation employee that works on-the-go with access to all their media and applications via smartphones, tablets and laptops over a WiFi network. This new breed of employee is fast-becoming a fixture in today’s businesses, both at the enterprise level and in SMBs. Easymeeting referred to digital nomads as people who can “leverage technology to work remotely, typically working in the digital space, and aren’t tied down to a traditional office or staying in one place” – with “leverage technology” being the operative phrase.

The “Digital Nomad” Mindset

The prevalence of the digital nomad illustrates a shift in the mindset today’s employees are using to approach the workday. Using technology at work is no longer an obligatory or administrative task. It’s an opportunity to work smarter, faster and in a more self-directed, outcome-oriented way. Because of the mobility and flexibility technology offers them, digital nomads are less fixed to the structure set in place by traditional office environments. They’re free to set their own schedules, work when they want and work in a way that is most comfortable and effective for them.

Digital Nomad Fast Facts

  • 92% are happier now that they’re less tied to a workplace
  • Nearly 80% expect to be a nomad for the rest of their life
  • Of today’s newest nomads, nearly half have been one for a year or less

This isn’t to say that the digital nomad mindset is reserved for freelancers or teleworkers. In fact, today’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) paradigm has made it easier than ever for employees of all shapes and sizes to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle. Video conferences are held via mobile phones, conference calls are conducted from the road, and cloud-based solutions enable teams from across the globe to collaborate in real-time.

Employers stand to benefit handsomely from the digital nomad trend as well. Companies need less pricey office space and can save on the thousands of dollars it would cost to provide company-issued devices. Add to that the higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement and lower turnover, and organizations that embrace their digital nomad employees can reap tremendous benefit.

Despite the significant upside, employers, especially those at budget- and growth-conscious small businesses, are challenged to adapt to the digital nomad mindset. Why? Because their employees are. Adapting their organization to this new approach to work and technology will better enable business leaders to keep pace with trends and behaviors that are continuing to dictate the evolution of the workplace.

If you’re interested in learning the steps to a implementing a device- and digital nomad-friendly workplace, read our article about adopting cloud-based communication systems.