The days of me backpacking across the world are over. Even if I was given the choice, I'd likely say "no thanks" to traipsing the globe with a suitcase and round-the-world ticket.

Not so for this generation of twenty-somethings who seem to consistently find ways to combine work with pleasure. Case in point: I recently met Chris Parcel, an iOS programmer for a company called Keep.com, who is about to become a "digital nomad."

For many people in the tech and startup world, this term is old news. For employers in other industries, it's an interesting work/life idea that's worth looking into.

The gist is that you essentially become a vagabond of sorts-albeit a highly skilled and coveted one-and travel the world going from one co-working place to the next. In Parcel's case, he gets to keep his job (working odd hours to do so) while also satiating his wanderlust.

When I mentioned this is exactly the sort of thing Tim Ferriss proposed in his bestselling book, The 4-Hour Workweek, I was met with a slightly hesitant look. Oh yea, I forgot, Parcel is under 30. Ferriss' book came out nearly 10 years ago. Regardless, both ideas strive towards the same thing: how to get the heck out of the office while still earning a living. Let's face it, the 1960s 9-to-5 paradigm of slogging your way to/from the office should be going out of style as fast as Ben Carson's poll numbers.

"I think the idea [of] having `work' hours and having `me' hours is too simplistic," Parcel says. "I've gone all-in with Keep in the past, and now that I've identified something like this that is important to me, they're by my side."

Parcel said his first stop in a 4-country tour is Thailand. Then it's onto South Korea, Portugal and lastly, Netherlands (Amsterdam). I give him a side eye when he mentions Amsterdam (Going there for the food?). In all 4 countries he's located co-working spaces that have fast internet speeds.

"I picked these places in part out of personal interest, but it also wouldn't be a stretch to say that I've planned this trip backwards from places that really cater to the needs of what they call a digital nomad," he said. "NomadList.com, and other sites have been instrumental in identifying what places I should visit."

Of course, this kind of lifestyle only works for certain industries. I certainly couldn't see someone in sales accomplishing this. And once you have the spouse, children and a mortgage, fuggedaboudit. But if you've got an employee with solid skills and a loyalty to the firm, I can't imagine why any company wouldn't look at this as an alternative to seeing someone quit.

"I'll come back with new ideas and a refreshed drive and since I'll still be in the loop, I won't have any catching up to do," Parcel said.

That and likely a wicked tan.

If you like this article, you'll love my new podcast, Radiate, featuring interviews with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders. You can click on new episodes on iTunes, SoundCloud or on my website. www.betty-liu.com. Here is the RSS feed too. And please don't forget to REVIEW the podcast or contact me at betty@betty-liu.com.

 

Published on: Feb 3, 2016
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