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.
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