The rise of freelancers and digital nomads around the world was accelerated by the newfound freedom that came with remote work and flexible work schedules. Accordingly, 2022 research by MBO Partners State of Independence discovered that 16.9 million Americans identified as digital nomads — up an astounding 131% from the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
However, the life of digital nomads has its own set of challenges. For instance, they often have to make do with portable gear and equipment, as well as juggle different schedules, time zones and locations all at once. These issues — along with the intrinsic need for social interaction — could also be considered obstacles for any professional wanting to combine business and travel.
Consequently, coworking spaces are often a desirable solution for many digital nomads while they’re on the road (specifically, for more than 21% of them). And, although many U.S. cities have yet to rise to the demand for coworking spaces that’s coming from all types of remote workers, the option is nevertheless on the table. That’s because it fosters a professional environment, in addition to providing all the tools necessary for a productive workday.
With this in mind, CoworkingCafe recently conducted a survey among digital nomads in order to determine exactly what they’re missing in their current workspaces, as well as what it would take to make their lives easier. Perhaps one of the most interesting findings was that only 18% of digital nomads were satisfied with their work environment, while 56% had neutral feelings and 26% were downright unhappy with what they were currently working with (literally).
At the same time, 69% of survey respondents were either actively looking at coworking spaces as a viable alternative to their current work setup or were considering it for the future.
So, to determine the exact features that digital nomads were missing or would benefit from in a work environment, CoworkingCafe asked survey respondents the following questions:
What gear would make a digital nomad’s job easier?
What types of extra amenities would digital nomads like to have?
A designated work area was the most preferred extra amenity that digital nomads would like to have in their working environment, as indicated by 41% of study respondents. Notably, many digital nomads operate from unconventional locations, like coffee shops or hotel lobbies, so the need for a professional setup and more privacy is not only understandable, but also expected. Likewise, a lounge or recreational area was selected as a useful amenity by 34% of respondents, whereas a somewhat lower number said they could benefit from parking facilities.
What are digital nomads missing the most from an office environment?
Interestingly, 48% of survey participants cited schedule flexibility as the most important aspect of an office environment. Nowadays, digital nomads might struggle to find a workspace that accommodates their highly flexible schedules — a fact that was only reinforced by their responses. Meanwhile, the clear boundary between work and personal life was the second-most popular answer in this category, closely followed by the need for social interaction (which they lack while traveling, but that an office environment can easily cater to).
Despite typically living a lifestyle that is highly desired by many people, the results of this survey make it increasingly clear that many digital nomads face difficulties in their day-to-day professional lives. Therefore, a significant number of digital nomads are thinking about coworking spaces due to the need for a professional setting, technological equipment and social connections. Yet, it remains to be seen whether coworking operators will help bridge the gap for these nomadic workers, as well as how that will affect the coworking industry as a whole.