Coworking spaces today cater to corporations, niche markets and other segments, but the roots of the industry stem from the entrepreneur and independent worker market. Digital nomads are a population of independent workers who can operate remotely with technology-enabled positions. According to MBO Partners, nearly 5 million independent workers fit the digital nomad description, with 17 million more aspiring to be nomadic.
The rise of co-living, remote/online meetings, solo travelers and of course, coworking, have enabled digital nomads to thrive and created a client segment that shared space operators have embraced.
Research shows this group is about two-thirds male, and more than half are over the age of 38, which is older than traditional coworking members. About half the nomad market is comprised of part-time workers, aligning with the freelance segment that often populates coworking spaces.
A cure for collaboration
The main detriment to the life as a digital nomad is loneliness and lack of collaborative opportunities. While independence may be part of the reason some chose to pursue this style of work, digital nomads still benefit greatly from the interaction and community of a coworking environment. In addition to idea sharing and learning from others, it is even known to improve mood.
A coworking space provides the opportunity to use private meeting rooms, high-speed connectivity, secluded or soundproof phone call areas and many other benefits that remote workers require. But during downtime, there are places to engage and chat like coffee bars and casual living spaces, a perfect chance for collaboration.
Whereas the traditional office employee builds career-long relationships and engages in networking opportunities consistently, this is lacking for a nomad who works from home or libraries or coffee shops. Coworking is a natural cure for the lack of collaboration which comes with this lifestyle.
Corporate remote work
What happens as corporate coworking continues to boom? Companies of all sizes are becoming more willing and able to hire remote workers and digital nomads, especially companies who have already established a footprint in shared workspaces. It creates a chain reaction: the more companies embrace remote work, the more coworking thrives and in turn, more working adults are willing to go the nomad route.
The needs of independent and remote workers have become more clearly defined and accepted. Some predict that hotels will be next in line to adopt the coworking model. Nomads who travel consistently could use a coworking space in their hotel, equipped with top-of-the-line internet connection and phone service. These coworking-centric hotels could possibly offer flexible stays allowing members to adjust check-in and check-out dates as needed.
Security is key
Security is a major concern when working independently. A recent study showed that 38% of remote workers admitted they lacked the necessary tech support expertise. For this reason, coworking spaces that offer high-quality security features are most attractive to nomads.
Beyond VPN solutions and encryptions, having a dedicated IT staff, SSID, separate guest and member networks and many other features are key components to the security for coworking spaces. A digital nomad working from home or a public location would have to be willing to work without these features no matter how significant or confidential the tasks may be. Enterprise corporations specifically are likely to request security for proprietary business data when having employees use coworking spaces.
The rise of digital nomads continues to run parallel to the growth of the coworking industry, and enhancements in technology will only make for more of a partnership between the two.
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