The coronavirus pandemic propelled a shift toward remote work that led many professionals to abandon the typical 9-to-5 and embrace the digital nomad lifestyle. At the same time, many companies have hired digital nomads to gain flexibility, spur innovation, and reduce overhead during a time of economic uncertainty.
Hiring a digital nomad as a freelancer or an employee offers advantages for productivity, creativity, and around-the-clock flexibility. However, working with digital nomads presents challenges as well. To find out if hiring a digital nomad is right for your team, you'll need to evaluate how key attributes align with your business goals.
If you're interested in hiring from a growing pool of skilled professionals.
The digital nomad community is expanding rapidly to include some of the world's best talent. As recently as just five years ago, the digital nomad community was more niched and limited. Now, employers can choose from a wide range of experienced, knowledgeable professionals to complement their teams.
Frequently, digital nomads have built their careers on being experts in their fields. They're often voracious learners who have realized that by offering deeper knowledge and higher quality than their peers, they can achieve success while maintaining a more unconventional lifestyle. However, it's important to verify their skills and expertise during the hiring process, just as you would with any candidate.
You want employees with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Many digital nomads have worked as freelancers, been self-employed, or run businesses themselves. Additionally, the digital nomad lifestyle itself lends itself best to self-starters.
Employers can rely on digital nomad employees to take initiative in recognizing problems, seizing opportunities, and doing what needs to be done. However, because of this, they may be quick to act--sometimes without fully communicating or vetting an idea with their team or managers. Make sure to put the proper checkpoints in place to harness their entrepreneurial spirit while keeping everyone in line with your company's goals and vision.
You want diversity and international business experience on your team.
Because of their lifestyle, digital nomads can contribute unique perspectives to businesses. Hiring a digital nomad with a diverse background can enliven teams with fresh insight to solve problems, spot new opportunities, and make processes more efficient.
Many digital nomads also have experience leading or working in international businesses. This know-how can make them an asset when planning a global expansion or taking your strategy to the next level.
You're ready to deal with time zone differences.
Hiring digital nomad employees can give you around-the-clock productivity--so long as you're willing to put the right processes in place to ensure proper communication and coordination.
Digital nomads have long been a popular choice for departments that need 24-hour coverage, such as customer service. For other roles, time zone differences can be a barrier that quickly breaks down collaboration.
In recent years, better communication tools have led more teams to allow flexible work schedules for digital nomads and other employees. To ensure success, employers should make sure they have a solid system in place and set expectations early for digital nomads' working hours.
You're ready to face some HR hurdles.
Recent studies have shown that allowing employees to work abroad makes them happier and more committed. Hiring a digital nomad allows companies to take advantage of these benefits without having to invest in or manage foreign assignments.
On the other hand, you'll want to take into account special HR considerations for overseas employees. For instance, digital nomad employees may not be covered by the company's group health insurance. There might also be extra payroll and tax implications for employers of Americans abroad. Make sure to take all these considerations into account when weighing the pros and cons of having a digital nomad join your team.
The growing numbers of digital nomad professionals are poised to play a pivotal role in the future of work. While each organization's needs are unique, digital nomads offer a unique skill set to help teams innovate, diversify, and build globally minded businesses.