Last year, I spent about 25 percent of my days on the road and enjoyed Inbox Zero throughout. Travel comes with the territory of my vice president of international title, but although some of my colleagues shy away from the red eyes, I find that I rarely miss a beat. Thanks to advances in technology, traveling is no longer a black hole of missed meetings and communication meltdowns. As long as I've got my MacBook Air, a charger, and a broadband connection, I can work from just about anywhere.
I travel quite a bit now, but my experiences are just a drop in the bucket compared with a new breed of workers called digital nomads. A digital nomad, as I define it, is someone who's broken free of workplace conventions--9-to-5 schedules, cube farms, and two weeks of vacation--and decided for himself or herself where he or she wanted to work. And he or she does it while pursuing his or her passions.
There are nearly three billion people worldwide with online access, and that number continues to only grow. Take Jacqui Pittenger. A technical writer, she has lived and worked from nearly every corner of the world, including Australia, Hong Kong, and Brazil.
Bernard Vukas, another digital nomad, went from being unemployed in a developing country to someone who works wherever he lives. After freelancing in Croatia, he pushed his hourly rate to three figures, and now he's off to see the world.
The fact that this revolution is happening right now means the concept of "going to work" will be largely outmoded in the next decade. In fact, according to a survey released by oDesk, more than nine in 10 professionals agree that "technology is making it easier to work wherever you want." Meanwhile, 82 percent agree that "the Internet is freeing us to live life how we want (versus where we need to be for work)."
Helping people live the lives they want will make them grateful, but to be honest, it's simply good business. People fulfilled in their careers tend to be stronger performers. Another finding from our survey was that of professionals who became digital nomads, 79 percent were more productive, compared with those who felt 9 percent less productive and the 13 percent who said there was no change in their productivity.
As long as quality work is being delivered day in and day out, does it matter from where the work is delivered? From my perspective, hardly at all.