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Digital Nomads;

The drivers and effect of becoming location independent

Kayleigh Franks
NHTV University of Applied sciences
May 2016

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Digital Nomads:
The Drivers and Effects of Becoming Location Independent
Kayleigh Franks, student at the NHTV University of Applied Sciences submitted this
thesis, in order to meet the requirements for the bachelor degree.

Kayleigh Franks (120194)
Student of international Tourism Management
NHTV University of Applied Sciences in Breda, The Netherlands
Supervision Lecturer: Ondrej Mitas

I hereby declare that this is fully the work of Kayleigh Franks. Any
contributors or sources have either been referenced in the prescribed
manner or are listed in the acknowledgement together with the nature and
scope of their contribution.

Acknowledgements

The tourism course at the NHTV University not only entails the combination of both travel
and business but it was a foundation of the knowledge I have developed over the four years
attending the university. I met an aspiring digital nomad, Rodney Cullen, which led me to
wonder about this lifestyle. Furthermore, having lived and travelled an extensive amount, the
drive to do so is very present within. Moreover, the current rise in technology and travel made
the topic relevant to current trends. After extensive research on the topic, I developed a
substantial insight into the phenomenon, thus the study on digital nomadism seemed
appropriate and intriguing. Moving to Chiang Mai nomads, I am also thankful for the time
digital nomad Gene Ellis took to giving me insight into the nomad community in Chiang Mai.
Throughout the interview process, the digital nomads were enthusiastic about my study and
provided me with interesting insights into the lives they live, which I am very appreciative of.
The nomads were cooperative and welcomed me into their community despite me not
technically being a digital nomad and just working on my thesis. I want to give a special
thank you to Gene Ellis specifically who took the time to give me insight into the nomad
community in Chiang Mai.
I want to thank dr. Erik Cohen for giving his time to answering my question on his expertise
‘lifetime traveller’. I am also grateful for the support, enthusiasm and pivotal insights I have
received from my family, friends and lecturers. Also I would like to thank my lecturer dr.
Ondrej Mitas, who also provided me with patience, enthusiasm on the topic and valuable
feedback.

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Executive summary
Thanks to globalization the world is becoming figuratively smaller, while technology
and the tourism industry is growing. The evolution of work and travel has led to a
revelation, namely Digital nomadism. Furthermore, technologies allow for these
paradigm workers to widen their options. Digital nomads are people that have only
two fundamentals requirements to carryout their jobs: a laptop and Wi-Fi. Currently,
digital nomads are transacting in 24 time zones a day, earning multiple foreign
currencies. The nomads are evolving and becoming creative, imaginative and
innovative individuals thanks to the constant change of environment. Nomads can
instantly decontextualize and reconfigure their work environment, and greater
mobility is creating a platform for new opportunities for both individuals and business
wise (Moravec, 2008).
The aim of this study is to explore the drivers and effects of becoming a digital nomad
focusing on: contingency structure, lifestyle preference and social and psychological
attitude. Firstly, a literature was composed in order to gain knowledge and insight on
the aforementioned topic. Furthermore, three initial research questions were
formulated to guide the research: 1. How digital nomadism differentiates from other
forms of long-term travel? 2.What are the push/pull factors of becoming location
independent? 3. What are the effects of becoming a digital nomad?
Following the secondary research, primary research was conducted. 22 interviews
were undertaken with digital nomads in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which is one of the
digital nomadic capitals of the world. The data was then coded and divided into
themes.
The results showed that the differentiation of digital nomadism to other long-term
travel options were: the use of a base for nomads rather than having a home or
constantly travelling and the indefinite time period nomads carried out their lifestyle
for. Moreover, There were many push factors that were concluded: the unchallenging
9-5 jobs they previously had, safety and escaping their individual comfort zones.
Furthermore, some of the pull factors included: the catalyst for the nomads was

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Digital Nomads

concluded to be a book, more specifically ‘the 4-hour workweek’ by Tim Ferris, the
glamorization of the media regarding digital nomads, and the freedom. The effects
included: increase in creativity, decrease in sense of achieving, as well as loneliness.
This data was then discussed in relation to the literature review.
In the final chapter, recommendations are stated in the conclusion for all theses
segments. This was based on both secondary and primary research. This information
can be used for current businesses, tourism industry, digital nomads and start up
ideas.

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Table of Contents
Acknowledgements ................................................................... 3
Chapter 1: Introduction ............................................................. 8
1.1
1.2
1.2
1.3

Background ................................................................................
Problem Analysis & Business Relevance .............................................
Method .....................................................................................
Thesis Structure ..........................................................................

10
10
12
13

Chapter 2: Context Analysis ...................................................... 14
Chapter 3: Literature Review ..................................................... 15
3.1 Tourism ....................................................................................
3.1.1 Backpackers..........................................................................
3.1.2 Lifetime Travellers/Drifters ......................................................
3.1.3 Migrants ..............................................................................
3.1.4 Redefining the Concept of Long-term Travel ..................................
3.2 Drivers of Travel..........................................................................
3.2.1 Contingency Structure .............................................................
3.2.2 Lifestyle Preference ...............................................................
3.2.3 Social and Psychological Attitude ................................................

15
16
16
17
18
18
20
24
25

Chapter 4: Problem Analysis ...................................................... 27
4.1 Research Aim ............................................................................. 28
4.2 Research Questions ...................................................................... 29
4.3 Potential use of outcomes .............................................................. 29

Chapter 5: Methodology ............................................................ 31
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4

Sampling ...................................................................................
Data Collection ...........................................................................
Data Analysis ..............................................................................
Limitation .................................................................................

31
31
32
32

Chapter 6: Results ................................................................... 33
6.1 Travelling as a Nomad ...................................................................
6.1.1 The Effects of Travel ..............................................................
6.2 Lifestyle Preferences ....................................................................
6.2.1 Pull Factors ..........................................................................
6.2.2 Push Factors .........................................................................
6.2.3 Effects of Lifestyle Preference ...................................................
6.3 Contingency Structure ...................................................................
6.3.1 Pull Factors ..........................................................................
6.3.2 Push Factors .........................................................................
6.3.3 Effects of a Contingency Structure ..............................................
6.4 Social and Psychological Attitude .....................................................
6.4.1 Pull Factors ..........................................................................
6.4.2 Push Factors .........................................................................
6.4.3 Effects on Social and Psychological Attitude ..................................

33
37
39
39
42
43
46
46
48
49
53
53
53
54

Chapter 7: Discussion ............................................................... 59
Chapter 8: Conclusion and Recommendation .................................. 62
8.1 Conclusion ................................................................................. 62
8.2 Recommendations ........................................................................ 63

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8.2.1
8.2.2
8.2.3
8.2.4
8.2.5

Digital Nomads

For Digital Nomads .................................................................
For Employees .......................................................................
For Companies ......................................................................
For Start-ups ........................................................................
Future research .....................................................................

63
63
64
65
66

Bibliography .......................................................................... 67
Appendix I ............................................................................. 73

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Chapter 1: Introduction
This research assesses the modern-day mobilities through a group of location independent
people, namely, Digital Nomads. They exemplify one sector of continuum of mobilities that
illustrates modern societies with movement of people, objects, images and information.
Mobility has increased in the recent years contributing one of the largest industries in the
world travel and tourism (Tang, Z., Shang, J., Shi, C., Liu, Z., & Bi, K. 2014). Furthermore,
these lifestyle preferences shape not only individuals but also societies constraints and
facilitators where digital nomads confront existing economic, social, political and cultural
constructions. The nomad’s boundless border-crossings and constant encounters with foreign
culture provide us with insight into possible future societal changes (Foucault, 2002)

Defining a Digital Nomad
The nomad society brings alight possible future orientation, from projecting future
contingency structure to the educational, social and political implications for developing
human capital in the 21st century (Moravec, J. W. 2013). Although, currently there are many
variations of the definition of nomads:
Neo-nomadism - is a concept Yasmine Abbas explored and constructed from the urban
planning perspective. She claims that mobility in increasing, spatially, mentally and
electronically. This creates challenges integrating interpersonally (Abbas, Y. 2011).
Digital Nomads - as defined in Wikipedia are: “individuals that leverage digital technologies
to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner.
Such workers typically work remotely—from home, coffee shops and public libraries to
collaborate with teams across the globe.” This is an idea that Makimoto, T. (2013) explored
extensively in their book ‘Digital nomad’. Makimoto, T. (2013) says that the digital
technologies promise to enable large number of people to work location independent.
1099 workers - are independent contractors whom are named after their recurrent use of the
U.S Internal Revenue Service form 1099. Richard Florida claims they are of the creative class
of innovation and context-creation workers, consisting of super-creative core, traditional
worker and new Bohemians
Knowmad Society - Richard Oliver (2007) discusses purposive drift – as individuals, there is
a need to have a purpose, despite the lack of future plans. Without purpose, they would be
simply lost regardless of the homelessness (Moravec, J. W. 2013).

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Global nomads - Carent Kaplan developed the theory of global nomads who defines them as
people who have the ability to track a path through seemingly illogical space without
succumbing to nations mastery.

Nomads are agents that dodge familiar structures and

networks avoiding the sedentary. Their journey has lasted at least three years, and some of
them have parted from their countries of origin decisively (Kannisto, P. 2014).
Each definition portrays characteristics of the other. Nevertheless, for this thesis, I will be
using the scientific definition of ‘digital nomad’ as described by Makimoto, T. (2013).
Furthermore, global nomads have almost the exact same characteristics; the research will
clarify the main difference.
To create a more extensive understanding, the following paragraph will further expand on
Makimoto’s (2013) term of the digital nomad. The term became apparent when they observed
gradual changes in lifestyle, from traditional way to nomadic ways. By the turn of the 21st
century a large number of people commuted to their work places, for example: offices in
central cities had a start time of 9 and finishing time of 5, where people travel there by car or
train. The movement of such, back and forth, created phenomena of heavy traffic, namely
rush hour. Furthermore, Mobile devices such as tablets, mobile PCs, and smart phones are
giving society a glimpse of the nomadic lifestyle. If you have an intelligent mobile terminal
such as Wi-Fi, you can access any kind of information; one does not have to be at the office
anymore. Thereby one has more freedom from the constraints of time and location. Thus, the
location independent people were denominated with the term ‘digital nomads’.

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1.1 Background
The definition of the word ‘digital’ is described as “Involving or relating to the use of
computer technology” and ‘nomad’ as “A member of a people that travels from place to place
to find fresh pasture for its animals and has no permanent home” (“Nomad”, 2015). These
definitions are the basis to defining a digital nomad, one who uses technology to perform their
jobs and that travels with no defined home. Moreover, people are increasingly valuing
mastery of their own lives in relevance to gaining a healthy work-life balance (Greenblatt, E.
2002). Digital nomads’ surroundings are constantly changing with the only constant being
work, which far differ from the sedentary societies that are built with the intent of
permanency and continuity. While nomads reject regular income and work ethic based on
hard work and diligence, the constraints of a home mortgages and an office contracts are
released (Kannisto, P. 2014).
The relevance from a business perspective: firstly, the technological maturity of IT
(information technology) has led to practical realization of mobile workforce. The enhanced
integrated wireless networking and portable laptops as well as mobile devices free employees
from being tethered to a location. Secondly, a virtual office lifts the cost constraints where the
cost of spaces shifts from company to employee. Finally, the sense of needs that are fulfilled
leads to increased productivity and a better work/life balance (Su, N. M., & Mark, G. 2008,
February).
Currently, there is minor research carried out on individuals that undertake the location
independent lifestyle as digital nomads. There is an urgent need for research on such a
lifestyle due to the increased restlessness of Western Societies (Richards, G. & Wilson, J.
2004b). Furthermore, considering the societal rejection of sedentary lives nomads undertake:
Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) framework will be used to discover the drivers of becoming
location independent. Finally, the effects of such a movement will be analysed.

1.2 Problem Analysis & Business Relevance
In the following paragraphs, the three driver components that dominate this thesis:
contingency structure, lifestyle preference and social and psychological attitude will be
discussed. Each section will briefly describe the change that is currently being undertaken.
Following this a depiction of how each component intertwine with one another and how it is
relevant.

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Digital Nomads

According to Cohen, S.A. (2011) people are becoming more individualistic, differentiating
themselves from one another and wanting to create a life they want to live. The industrial
momentum of the 9-5 jobs is lessening in appeal. The 9-5 is a societal collective agreement to
work eight hours a day despite individuals having reached their daily target beforehand. The
dated legacy is structured as results-by-volume approach (Ferris, T. 2011). Ferris, T. (2011),
continues to explain why individualism is important to distinguish, as it is impossible for
every person to work at the same rate.
The needs of work forces are changing along with the future structure of any associated
company. The viable new lifestyle of location independence can be defined by varied work
from high-income entrepreneurs, to having widely distributed offices. These transformations
are affecting the workforce and companies are increasingly allowing their employees to
telecommute and work remotely (Becker, F. 2005). Ultimately, in a knowledge economy the
balance is changing: a decreasing amount of workers are bound by work and information
while an increasing amount of workers can take work and information to their choice. This is
due to the raw material being digitalized rather than tied to a physical place (Dal Fiore, F et
al, 2014). Moreover, society has converted from transactional in terms of communication to
seeking out synergies. Also, the division emerges in the workplace; individual is taking on
jobs as gigs- like freelancers to become more independent (Moravec, J. W., & van den Hoff,
R. 2015). The accelerating change leaves us to speculate about what there is to come.
Societal changes are occurring; Society 1.0 refers to the pre-industrial cultivation. Following
this we are experiencing Society 2.0 relating to social transformations principally due to
technological change. As we slowly step into Society 3.0, the nomad society is our near
future, which is the transformation era for social, travel and technological accelerations
(Moravec, J. W. 2008). Society 3.0 is reflected in Generation Y-led entrepreneurial companies
such as Sandbox. Moreover, the movement has effected several spectrums of society, due to
this demand in the change of societal needs alternative education platforms have emerged;
KaosPilots, Knowmads Business School Amsterdam and Hyper Island (Moravec, J. W.
2013). It is evident that lifestyle preferences are altering; individualism is becoming realism
and is having a ripple effect as far as the workforce.
To create an understanding of these implications, the stem, i.e. the drivers, must be identified.
By travelling around the world, nomads unconsciously stretch the present limits of mobility,
which will also be outlined in this thesis. There are minor changes in each of the topics that
will increasingly impact society. A small percentage have began this phenomenon, this paper
will identify the motivators and effects to help companies and individuals adapt to the
possibilities of an alternative way of life.

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1.2 Method
The aim of this study is to investigate the drivers and effects of a digital nomadic life,
focusing on identity, lifestyle preference and work contingency. This thesis is continuing Dal
Fiore, F., Mokhtarian, P. L., Salomon, I., & Singer, M. E. (2014) theory on human behaviour
in relation to travel. Their theory exemplifies alternative disciplinary views of motivation for
human behaviour in general, and travel specifically, that is used to identify the impact of
mobile technology on travel. The theory used as a base is, travelling as the outcome of a
utility-maximizing choice, will be further analyzed identifying the motivators of becoming
location impendent. Furthermore, each section of the theory will be researched in relation to
the push/pull factors of becoming a digital nomad.
My research aim is to find the specific motivators and effects of pursuing an alternative
nomadic lifestyle. In this research I will also identify and differentiate the characteristics that
separates digital nomads to other forms of long-term travel. The three primary questions were
formulated evolving from the research gap that identified which, was based on both the
context analysis and the literature review (Chapter 3). The following questions are used as a
guide for the research results:
1. How does digital nomadism differentiate from other forms of long-term
travel?
2. What are the push/pull factors of becoming a digital nomad?
3. What are the effects of pursuing a lifestyle such as digital nomadism?

To comprehend each question in more depth sub-questions will be devised. The conclusions
obtained are based on qualitative research, deductive study and of exploratory nature.
Secondary research is conducted in order to create a deeper understanding of the underlying
components that when merged leads to the topic at hand, Digital Nomads. Primary research is
then carried out to concur extensive information concerning the push/pull factors of
embracing the nomadic movement and the effects of such a lifestyle. Finally, the findings are
divided into themes to comprehend each constituent to a more profound level and a number
of recommendations will be devised from the results.
As such, this paper not only extends Dal Fiore, F. et al. (2014) theory but also contextualises
this form of lifestyle travel within a wider discussion in the social sciences of how technology
can effect physical mobility and challenge the ways in which individuals experience
themselves, others and places over time.

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Digital Nomads

1.3 Thesis Structure
Chapter 1: Introduction

Provides insight into the studies subject and its
background. Further adding its business relevance to
the current day working field, with a brief description
of the methodology.

Chapter 2: Context Analysis

Discusses the current context of the term and analyses
the location best suited.

Chapter 3: Literature Review The thesis topic is explored with secondary research
methods. Academic articles are used to outline the
already researched segmentations, essentially a
context analysis and literature review.

Chapter 4: Problem Analysis

The research information will be analyzed whereby a
gap with be identified. This gap will be used as a stem
to more specific questions and sub questions

Chapter 5: Methodology

This describes the research approach to the research
gap found. Aspects will be described such as
population and sampling approaches followed by the
instruments used to do so. Finally the data is analyzed
for further findings.

Chapter 6: Results

Results of the qualitative research is discussed, themes
will be divided to analyze the research findings in
more depth. The findings will then be compared to the
literature review creating a discussion

Chapter 7: Discussion

The findings will then be compared to the literature
review creating a discussion

Chapter 8: Conclusions and
Recommendations

This chapter will contain the conclusions to both the
research question and each sub-question. The final
recommendations and implications will be derived
from the conclusion.

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Chapter 2: Context Analysis
Nomads are a new phenomenon and are just beginning to grow in importance within the
research sector. Furthermore, the multiple definitions along with the lack of knowledge on the
movement cause absence of knowledge on their whereabouts. Furthermore, the nomads are
defined as constantly moving whereby challenging to track Rosenwald, M. S. (2009).
Therefore there is no scientifically proven area where they conform to being. For locating the
participants there were multiple commercial sources of information that were used. Following
this, the impact of the movement will be analysed through sectors of tourism and educational
sectors of society.
Commercially speaking, the digital nomadic movement is being described as societal
rejection that has stemmed from the demotivating daily routine. Nomads are creating
communities all around the world, although three out of four top locations for a nomadic
lifestyle are in Thailand according to the nomadic list (2015). It is rated number one due to
the needs of the digital nomads; Internet speed, cost of living, safety, places to work from and
weather. These results can vary depending on the time of year and recent happenings. The
Nomadic list (2015) website has also received praise and referrals from TMW, Forbes and
Wired.
There are also many bloggers writing about digital nomadism, JetSetCitizen blog claims that
every long-term traveller makes it to Chiang Mai. Bardos, J (2012) says1.6 million people
live comfortably on less than $500 a month, including the one to three dollar meals.
Hawksworth. P (2015) claims Chiang Mai tops nomad cities to live and work. His blog “live
your life of freedom, live your life mission” says this is due to the low cost of living and the
locals’ positive attitude towards foreigners. He continues to say how his co-livers don’t want
to leave the city; the nomadic community feeling keeps them there. Although, according to
the Go Online information site Bali is number one for nomads and Chiang Mai follows right
behind. Despite the similar characteristics Bali exceeds Chiang Mai’s digital nomad
community with the third spaces organizing endless events for digital nomads. In Chiang Mai
it is outside companies such as meet ups that organize them.
Newspapers also have opinionated the locations digital nomads are known to travel to. The
Telegraph’s article on “living and working in paradise: the rise of the ‘digital nomad’ explains
how the digital nomads are enticed by idyllic destinations such as Hanoi, Bali and Chiang
Mai lifestyle: exotic surroundings, health consciousness, yoga and coconut water. A Finnish
newspaper, namely Iglu, explain how they hire employees in Chiang Mai despite the clientele
predominantly being in Finland. They continue to clarify that the freelancers they hire are
highly skilled yet still affordable as they get the benefits of living in Chiang Mai.

Digital Nomads

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For locating digital nomads, it is evident that both Bali and Chiang Mai will provide access to
digital nomads. Considering more articles mention Chiang Mai as being top location for the
nomads I will base my research from Thailand.

Chapter 3: Literature Review
This chapter is divided two main sections that compose the literature review. Firstly, it
discusses the tourism sectors, more specifically long term travelling by choice (3.2.1
backpackers, 3.2.2 lifetime travellers and 3.3.1 migrants) and how the phenomenon of digital
nomads can be explained and understood through them. Selected key concepts of long-term
travel will be redefined (3.1.4 redefining the concept of long term travel) in relations with
location independence lifestyle.
Secondly, the theoretical foundations to identify drivers for travel (3.2 travelling as an
outcome of utility maximising choice) are analysed in detail. The segments that are derived
from the theory (3.2.1 Contingency structure, 3.2.2 Lifestyle preference and 3.2.3 Social and
psychological attitude) are researched and examined separately. This will provide informative
foundation on the current factors that characterize each section. Furthermore, this will then be
used as a basis of comparison to the results in the discussion.
Throughout each section, the possible drivers identified as push and pull factors will be
identified. The push factors are the reasons for leaving their initial place and the pull factors
such as the attractiveness of the lifestyle will be identified. Furthermore, the effects will be
outlined throughout the literature review. These will then be used as a comparison to the
multiple forms of long-term travel and the travelling out of utility maximizing choice.

3.1 Tourism
Lifestyle migration is a growing discussion amongst the sociologists, which emphasizes
on migrants in search of an improved way of life (Benson & O'Reilly, 2009). Research
outlines the correlation of lifestyle, mobility and social meaning. Differentiating tourist from
migrants Benson and O’Reilly (2009) observe that ‘there has yet to be an adequate
explanation of why people might want to turn their experiences from tourism into a way of
life’. There has now been an extended differentiation from these long-term travels to the
digital nomadic life characterizing a new style. According to Kannisto, P. (2014). Digital
nomads lifestyles are extreme and they are recognized for their homelessness.

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3.1.1 Backpackers
The label ‘backpackers’ first gained momentum in the late 1990´s (O’Reilly, 2006) as a
descriptor for principally young, budget tourists travelling for an extended period of time. The
initial push factors of the backpacking experience usually take place in a transitional phase of
life namely, an episode such as ‘gap year’ or ‘overseas experience’ (Maoz & Bekerman,
2010). According to Uriely et al. (2002) multiple backpacking trips will take place after the
initial experience. Furthermore, Uriely (2005) says these forms of travel offer a unique sense
of identity, whereby forming a social identity for the backpackers within the social matrix.
Travel styles are extending beyond the institutionalised culture of tourism. Recent years have
brought to light the importance of the backpacking community. Although this form of travel
has been stereotyped for the younger generations, backpacking has become mainstream.
(O’Reilly 2006, Cohen 2011, Ateljevic & Doorne 2004). Backpackers now form part of the
tourism mass industry they attempt to differentiate themselves from (Cohen, E. 2004).
Backpackers target service companies such as tour operators, accommodation and restaurants.
This has shifted from a de-marketing sector to a prominent marketing label (Ateljevic &
Doorne, 2004). Furthermore, commercialization has diminished the backpacking experience
and it has reduced the prestige of the form of travel. The periodic backpacking has shifted to
making travels an ongoing lifestyle (Kannisto, P. 2014).

3.1.2 Lifetime Travellers/Drifters
The drifters are observed to be escaping the ties of obligation abandoning the societal form of
accepted way of life. The pull factors concern the drifters in search for sensual and emotional
needs, essentially a counter culture where one can immerse them into a more primitive
surrounding (Cohen 1973). Backpacking is extended beyond the means of ‘ an episode’, as
there is a minor section of the tourism industry that has converted backpacking into a
lifestyle. This style of lifestyle is normally referred to as drifter or wanderer yet Cohen’s
(1972) believes the drifter implies a sense of sense of aimlessness and has re-conceptualized
as ‘lifetime travellers’.

Residing in a standard living space is not an option for those who call themselves lifetime
travellers. The standard lifestyle is merely a distant thought where their lifestyle is being an
everyday tourist as they practice physical movement. Pearce and Lee (2007) attempt to
condense these characteristics and refer to ‘travel career pattern’ to recognize how travellers
develop in time. Uriely et al. (2002) express that episodic consumption of travel can be
assembled into evocative and identifiable lifestyle.

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Cohen, S.A. (2011) found that the backpacking lifestyle is an extension of his participant’s
original getaway trip, converting backpacking into a lifestyle rather than the conventional role
as a recreational break. Travellers had two primary push factors: border social consumption
and escape from life crisis. The pull factors are identified as seeking an experience such as
that of childhood holiday experiences.
There is continuous debate on the effects of travel on an individual when re-assimilating to
their homeland. Hottola (2004) argues that a traveller is unable to reconnect to the social
norms whilst enduring a reverse culture shock. On the other hand Cohen, S.A. (2011) argues
this is not due to culture assimilation, but the backpacking subculture has been intertwined
into their belief systems and essentially relocated the self-identity.

3.1.3 Migrants
Migration is becoming more popular in the lifestyle sector. It simply concerns the
geographical relocation of people’s homes. These people share features with digital nomads
such as motivations that make them leave their country of origin to redesign their lives.
Lifestyle migrants primarily consist of western citizens who move country in search of a
better quality of life according to the individual (Benson 2009) some of the pull factors
include: an essentially relaxed lifestyle, which may concern weather, cost, gardening.
Furthermore, the younger generation usual seeks the new age lifestyle, which consists of
craftsmen, hippies, DJs, spiritual healers and drug dealers (Casado-Díaz, Kaiser, & Warnes
2004). They disperse from their homeland in the avoidance of regimes of state, ethics and
market.
Migrants have rather diverse drivers for moving; these drivers don’t focus necessarily on
financial benefits, unlike what is perceived by digital nomads. The majority of the migrants
consist of pensioners (Casado-Diaz 2009; Casado-Diaz et al. 2004; Gustafson 2008 and
2009). The migrants who work seek integration in terms of work, leisure and spirituality,
while others separate work and leisure. The latter tend to work in the western societies
between their journeys abroad similarly to backpackers and lifetime travellers (Kannisto, P.
2014).
There are various types of migrants but they firstly explore the area as a tourist then settle on
a lifestyle fit for them. Some migrate permanently to a holiday space where the tourism
industry affects them greatly, although they don’t identify themselves as tourists, nor as being
on holiday (O’Reilly 2007).

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3.1.4 Redefining the Concept of Long-term Travel
Types of travel reviewed so far on long-term travellers, backpacking and lifestyle travellers
all carry elements when identifying the characteristics digital nomad. Although features of
long-term travellers are interrelated they are dissimilar to the digital nomadic lifestyle. These
type of travellers help analyse location independent travellers unlike other forms of long-term
travel (Kannisto, P. 2014) through the research on digital nomads, the importance of mobility
and the effects they have on the individual and their everyday practices.
Bauman (2005) describes them as ‘people of many places but no one place in particular’.
What differentiates nomads from the typical long-term traveller is that although long-term
travellers undertake extensive journeys, both physically and mentally home still remains a
strengthened orientation point. Their constant movement is interrupted periodically to earn
money needed for their next trip. Furthermore, long-term travellers maintain their
relationships (family and friends) Cohen, S. A. (2010). The ultimate goal of a long-term
traveller is to return to their home, thus rather than detaching themselves, they are still tied to
their home (Papastergiadis, N. 2000). On the other hand, digital nomads are homeless and do
not have a drive to return and live in their hometown. This detatches nomads from their
friends and creates distance (Kannisto, P. 2014). Digital nomads are blurring the borders of
countries and boundaries that society has formed. They exemplify the importance of sustained
mobility with subjectivities and power relations associated (Cohen, E. 2007).
The distinction between migrants and digital nomads begin with the limitations of a migrant
as their primary motivation to travel is in search for a new home. Dissimilarly, digital nomads
are constantly mobile and do not seek to settle (Kannisto, P. 2014). Korpela (2009) expresses
that unlike migrants digital nomads challenge themselves to immerse themselves into a
culture filled lifestyle.
Lifestyle migration is defined by counter-hegemonic, which in tourism terms simply refers to
counter-cultural positionings. For the migrants, leaving their homelands is carried out by
choice and many try to disassociate themselves with their past as it was imposed rather than
chosen (D’Andrea 2007).

3.2 Drivers of Travel
Drivers of human behavior can be defined as motivation, which can be further analyzed.
Typologies are divided in various disciplinary contexts; sociology, economics, psychology,
geography and marketing research as well as several interdisciplinary fields disposal (Dal
Fiore, F et al. 2014). Mokhtarian and Salmon (1994) found that drivers originate from
lifestyle configurations such as work, leisure, family and ideology which affect the decision
making process.

Digital Nomads

19

In the following subsections Dal Fiore, F et al. (2014) theory on travelling as an outcome of
utility maximizing choice is outlined. In this theory, technology is referred to as utility. These
examples are not exclusive; nevertheless they outline the fundamental structure of
disciplinary views of drivers for human behavior and expanding it to a broader spectrum,
associated to travel in particular. This helps depict the impact of mobile technology on travel
and human behavior.
Travelling as the Outcome of a Utility Maximizing Choice
Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) built a
theoretical model to interpret the different
drives/ motivators in relation to facilitators
and constraints. The main hypothesis of
the model absence of constraints is
preferred yet not limiting when choosing
to travel. Travel itself is not an adequate
motivator; rather the presence of an active
reason (driver/motivator) for doing so is
essential. Fig.1 was originally used to
depict people’s choice for telecommuting
from home versus travelling to work. The
figure also shows the various elements of
people’s internal decision-making process
in comparison to travelling. Furthermore,
the model can be extended beyond its
initial implications to the choice of travel
or not in variety of contexts.
This model defines the singular elements
combined defines the individual choice to
travel or not.

Fig 1:A schematic model of the internal decision making process
involved in travel
(Source: Mokhtarian and Salomon, 1994)

Lifestyle preference


Contingent situation- freelancers,
consultancy
Perceived choice set of travel options

Social and psychological attitude

Perceived facilitators and constraints, including cost, type of technology available,
and organizational support.

20
The model depicts the travel choices that were derived from numerous elements by which
individuals choose the alternative way of life. Individuals are highly affected not only by
preferences but quality of information at one’s disposal. The theoretical model that interprets
the different drives/ motivators in relation to facilitators and constraints will be used as a tool
to characterize and identify the push pull factors of a Digital Nomad’s lifestyle (Dal Fiore, F.
et al. 2014). Nonetheless, the perceived choice of travel options will be conjoined to lifestyle
preference. This is due to the nature of the nomadic life of travelling. Furthermore, perceived
facilitators and constraints, including cost, type of technology available, and organizational
support will be intertwined within the dominant subsections; 3.2.1 Contingency structure,
3.2.2 Lifestyle preference and 3.2.3 Social and psychological attitude.

3.2.1 Contingency Structure
Freelancer entrepreneurs are becoming an increasing necessity for companies, with young
professionals building business in the digital era (Lesonsky. R, 2011). The structure of the
workforce is slowly being redefined to virtual workforce, where employees do not have a
locational office. This consists of individuals working towards a common goal, yet without
the tangible assets such as; centralised building or other characteristics that define traditional
workspace (Hartman, F., & Guss, C., 1996).

Employers
Employers of the industrial society have sought increased elasticity in their employment
systems. Employers are thought to restructure the workforce, which further creates
consequences of the reformation (Kalleberg, A. L., 2003). The elastic form of working affects
the employment relation to management.
An on-going debate argues what effects experiences such as travel and leisure time have
on future work opportunities. Cohen, S.A. (2011) argues that backpacking, as a form of travel
did not lead to an increase of access into professional workforces in their home societies.
Nevertheless, Google was swayed for a CEO position by the previous experience this
candidate (Eric Schmidt) had, namely Burning Man. Google expressed that the values gained
from such an experienced formed an individual they would want on their team (John, M and
G.Pascal, Z 2013).
Techno Spaces
‘Mobile media’ are defines as potable media such as: laptops, computers tablets and
telephones connectable to movements of data (Mackenzie, 2005). ‘Smart devices’ are forms
mobile media with built-in Wi-Fi networks. ‘Wi-Fi’ permits information being transferred

21

Digital Nomads

without physical connection, with the most common type being high-speed Internet
(Mackenzie, 2005). ‘Wi-Fi cafes’ often provides customers with a connection free of charge.
‘Internet cafes’ are places that usually provide time-based Internet use. ‘Co-working’ has
individual desk space that normally comprises office facilities, in a relaxed environment
Harmer, B. M., & Pauleen, D. J. (2012).
As mobile media evolves it extends the possibility to becoming a digital nomad. The move
from conventional office environment are needed to be fulfilled with new structure and
resource their physical ‘techno space’. Nevertheless, techno spaces are places digital nomads
are using which is taking up societies third space. ‘Third spaces’ are areas used by people as
an escapism their ‘first space’ (home) and ‘second space’ (work) O’Brien, M. (2011).
Co-working spaces are renegotiating areas of mobile media in public spaces. These new
spaces reinvent individual’s identity development structures and create acceptance of the
nomads in the society they have chosen. This trend would essentially lead to a decline in need
for work-related mobile media use in ‘third spaces’ Harmer, B. M., & Pauleen, D. J. (2012).
Co-working spaces also act as a community base, where people of similar mind-set work
(Sundsted, T., Jones, D., & Bacigalupo, T. 2009).
The nomad society is currently evolving especially regarding individuals needs being
satisfied. Despite the movement away from the office, the community feeling is one to be
classed as a pull factor. In the ‘techno spaces’ they work in, it is more than just a co-working
area, it is the exchange of both chitchat, business advice or business opportunity with people
who work with various different companies (Rosenwald, M. S. 2009).
Technology
In alignment with the Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) theoretical model, technology has now
become a facilitator for travel. With combining travel and technology this is a utility
maximising choice. Technology has advanced and now acts as a facilitator for individuals to
carry out their work where they please. Digital evolution redefined and renegotiated the
relationship between time and space, as well as public and private spaces ‘third space’, which
has led to alternative behaviours rituals and communication patterns (O’Brien. M, 2011).
Social adaptation of this digital life is jumping through movements from the invention phase,
to institutionalization followed by the diffusion of innovation phase (Rogers, E. M., 2010).
Technology is seen to have eroded a sense of togetherness and community, shifting
interaction to the virtual world. Thus making individuals isolated through control of contact
and connection on demand (Bugeja, 2005). Armitage (1999) approached the development as

22
overruling our daily lives where individuals are unable to create a distinction between virtual
and actual activities.
As seen, technology acts as a facilitator for both the travel industry and business industries.
Technology deliver the possibility for people to become more flexible, give them more
freedom. Although, this had made travel more productive which derives from control that
may deprive it of part of its attraction (Dal Fiore, F., Mokhtarian, P. L., Salomon, I., &
Singer, M. E., 2014). Putnam, L. L., Myers, K. K., & Gailliard, B. M. (2014) concludes by
urging organizations and society to reframe the tensions between work and life, to treat them
as enriching rather than competing with each other and to transcend these opposite poles
through exploring third spaces.

Organizational Support
Technology has much facilitated and encouraged companies to become more international.
Relating back to Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) theoretical model organizational support
acts as both a constraint (push factor) and a facilitator for becoming remote. There are several
companies that exemplify the success of remote working and how differentiating personality
is of importance.
IBM is an international business machine corporation; they manufacture and market software,
hardware and middleware. Furthermore, the company offers infrastructure, hosting and
consultancy services and runs SPSS (Leech, N. L., Barrett, K. C., & Morgan, G. A. 2015). .
They employ 400,000 employees serving 170 countries of which 40% work remotely and
ranked second in largest number of employees in the U.S. Within the workplace they have
developed communities, as they believe community development is not one size fits all.
Moreover, each individual carries his or her own personality, strengths and challenges
(Anderson, D. W., Sparacio, F. J., & Tomasulo, R. M. 1967).
TeleTech employs over 40,000, which include 20,000 of them being home-based
telecommuting associates worldwide. Some remote workers jobs include; vice president, sales
and recruitment receptionist. They provide full range of front to back office outsources
solutions (Chow, S. E. S., 2015). Companies as large as these can be identified as a possible
pull factors for people to want to become nomadic. They identify with the values they outlay
and the success.
Both digitalized companies have the tools to provide their employers with remote work. IBM
uses more internal talent, yet this talent is located around the world, whereas TeleTech

Digital Nomads

23

outsource some of their work. Nevertheless they both align themselves with the international
possibilities of a virtual office
Telecommuting
The alternative lifestyle is commended as a change from constraints of collective societal
structure. Gradually, societal needs are shifting to an individual’s leisure rather than work
(Wheaton, 2004). There are increasing amounts of benefits to employer and employees by
adopting telecommuting. The benefits include more flexibility, fewer distractions, reduced
office cost, increased talent pool and there are proven increase in productivity (Baruch, 2001;
Kurland & Bailey, 1999). These workers tend to take fewer sick days and have a higher job
satisfaction, which leads to higher job ratings (Kurland & Bailey, 1999). A study carried out
by the Information Resources Management (2000) revealed a substantial increase in quality
of work and satisfaction as a result of virtual work arrangement.
93%

Achieved greater balance between their professional and personal lives

88%

Experienced a lower level of stress

82%

Reported their moral improved

59%

Were more motivated while telecommuting

The results also outlined that 100% of the managers were both satisfied and very satisfied
worth the virtual work arrangement. This furthers their understanding of the values this
structure brings as a business tool to attract and retain skilled employees. Nevertheless, their
motivation is low which is evident that it is not suitable for all employees. (Harrington, S. J.,
& Santiago, J., 2015).
Outsourcing
Outsourcing is claimed to enhance a business success in the competitive market place (Loh,
L., & Venkatraman, N. 1995). According to Oshri, I., Kotlarsky, J., & Willcocks, L. P. (2015)
the market will see a 4.8% increase of annual growth through to 2018. By 2015, the offshore
marketplace grew to 125 providing IT services.
In terms of benefits, a company may reap significant cost advantages through the creation of
economies of scale, access to unique expertise of third parties and reduce overhead costs.
These activities can be moved to an independent service provider in countries with favorable
conditions (Willcocks, L. P., & Lacity, M. C. 2012). Secondly, companies may benefit by
concentrating on core activities and have outsources innovate creative ideas as they are not
culture bound. Thirdly, company’s network of suppliers can help them with the fluxuation of
demand at lower cost and faster speeds (McCarthy, I., & Anagnostou, A. 2004).

24

There are also disadvantages of adopting such a method. Firstly, overdependence on outside
organizations for carrying important business functions may involve some threats. Also,
confidentiality and the security of the work may become a major issue. Finally, the loss of
control over the quality of work is a strong disadvantage (Oshri, et al. 2015).
Outsourcing is an old discovery, which is only just becoming popular. Nowadays, it is
pursued both domestically and internationally for both work and personal related tasks
(Hagel, J & Brown, J. S. 2005).
In terms of work relating outsourcing, all sized companies are enabled to outsource any task
facilitating the growth and potential of smaller companies in nearly all industries (Hätönen, J.,
& Eriksson, T. 2009). Outsourcing has evolved from manufacturing tasks to the technological
industry. This method of work is primarily carried out to cut costs and increase profit.
According to Grimn, L (2014) telecommunications need to be prepared for this reality.
Outsourcing has become a tool for streamlining internal operations. Furthermore, it is a tool
that transforms organizations in becoming more flexible whereby tight internal integration is
dispersed (Schilling, M. A., & Steensma, H. K, 2001). For the more skilled work, these
actors could be identified as freelancers or company owners providing their skills and
knowledge to one or several companies that are outsourcing. The increasing need for
outsourcing opens the opportunities for online jobs (pull factor).
On a physical level, IBM used to build most of their operating systems internally.
Nevertheless, IBM computers are being outsourced using Microsoft operating systems and
Intel chips. The company has shifted from selling computers to selling services and the
computers sold from an IBM store is mostly manufactured by other companies (Hätönen, J.
et. al. 2009).

3.2.2 Lifestyle Preference
Lifestyles can be used as a means to classify social classes defined through occupation,
ethnic, culture or social class. Nevertheless, it is defined as a product of post-industrial period
they can use to analyse (Binkley, 2004). Debated further with the topic lifestyle it is often
‘articulated in relation to shifts identified with postmodernism’ (Bell & Hollows, 2006, p. 1).
One’s life’s consumption is categorized by an assemblage of clothes, goods, experiences,
appearance and bodily disposition that when combined it defines lifestyle (Featherstone,
1987, p. 59). Lifestyle choices can vary among the individual on habits of dressing or how
leisure time is spent, these decisions are more than just a pattern of how to behave, yet it
relays on who one wants to be (Giddens, 1991, p. 81).

25

Digital Nomads

The concept of lifestyle is becoming increasingly acknowledged as a theoretical tool among
social scientists. As of late, the analytical device is being used as a perspective of social
analysis within the topic of tourism. The tool, lifestyle, has been restricted to quantitative
methods that use psychographics to analyse travel behaviour (Lee & Sparks, 2007).

Work-leisure Balance
Technology has complicated the work-life boundary and provided resources for managing it
(Edley, P. P., Hylmo, A., & Newsom, V. A. 2004). Mobile information and communication
technologies (ICT) are blurring the borders through subverting the assignment of work and
leisure to circumscribe times and places (Caporael, L. R., & Xie, B. 2003).
The work-leisure balance is described as the degree to which people experience their life both
at work and during their leisure time while experiencing minimum stress (Clark, 2000).
Work-leisure balance and quality of life often causes employees to be in a mutually exclusive
dilemma. There is a strong correlation between work and life environments, for example,
working conditions affect the non-work satisfaction and vise versa (Miceli, M. P., & Near, J.
P. 1984).
Urry, J., & Larsen, J. (2011) expresses how tourism is a sector of the leisure industry, which
presupposes its opposite: regulated and organised work. Unlike long-term travellers, digital
nomads are travelling for neither work nor leisure (Urry, J. 2002). The nomads work during
their journey and are considered free from constraints. Although, travelling also contains
work-like routines like planning, waiting and the use of public transport Verbeek, D. (2009).

3.2.3 Social and Psychological Attitude
This section is segmented from Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) theoretical model, whereby
analysing the characteristics that influence the possible drivers of the social and psychological
attitude. To understand possible push factors, the social and psychological aspects of an
employee are analysed.
Employee Motivation

Offices have had to adapt along with personal lifestyles and personal social states, which
leads to a modification in the working lives. Gluessing (2008) claims the virtual workspaces
open up conceptualizations of personal psychological mind-set. He expands expressing how it
can be diversified and seen as a flexible response to cultures and context.
There are two types of motivation that employers can precede with employees: intrinsic
motivation and extrinsic motivation. From birth humans, in their healthiest state, are curious,

26
playful, inquisitive showing an omnipresent reediness to learn and explore without incentives.
This natural stimulation is critical in cognitive, physical and social development. This is
through acting on interests provoked the growth of knowledge and skill. The tendencies in
taking interest in novelty to creatively apply skills is not limit to childhood, yet a dominant
feature affecting performance, persistence and wellbeing in human nature (Deci, E. L., &
Ryan, R. M. (1975), Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. , 2000).
Although intrinsic motivation is important, following childhood, freedom becomes
increasingly curtailed by social demands. A high percentage of companies adopts the
incentive motivator, essentially using extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is a construct
that pertains whenever an activity is done in order to attain a separable outcome (Ryan, R. M.,
& Deci, E. L. 2000).
In relation to work requiring cognitive skills, intrinsic motivators that give employees with
autonomy, mastery and purpose will exceed the results of extrinsic motivation. Furthermore,
research shows traditional incentives only work for limited tasks. The rewards have a
tendency to decrease creativity and performance Pink, D. H. (2011).
Identity

On a personal level, long-term travelling provides the individual with a unique sense of selffinding, while on a societal level with a distinct recognizable identity Cohen, S. A. (2011).
The differentiating characteristics between the long-term travel lifestyles from other lifestyles
are the sustained physical mobility each of them adopts. Moreover, social scientists dispute
how new movements and means of mobility are influencing our lives; globalization is leading
to different ways of understanding social and psychological mindsets and relations to places
(Creswell, 2010; Sheller & Urry, 2006). Differentiating them from mass tourists, lifetime
travellers value: novelty, spontaneity, independence, risk and having a wide range of options.
On the other hand mass tourism is characterized by: familiarity, safety, prior planning,
minimal choices and dependency (Cohen, S. A. 2011).
Cohen, S.A (2011) articulates that although the delineations of a travelling lifestyle may at
presence seem an extreme form of physical mobility, over time, mobility presents itself as
being more conventional. Creswell (2010) expresses how lifetime travel is supplemented by
friction, disorder and imbalance. A course of routine through consuming tourism motilities
can

essentially

fuse

and

confuse

relating

to

psychological

attitude.

Digital Nomads

27

Chapter 4: Problem Analysis
There are many factors contributing to an improved contingency structure, lifestyle
preference and social and psychological attitude. This will benefit companies’ potential
improvements along with possibilit awareness for individuals. As seen in the contingency
structure, companies are increasingly outsourcing their work. Oshri, I., Kotlarsky, J., &
Willcocks, L. P. (2015) estimates, the market will see a 4.8% increase of annual growth

through to 2018, making other companies have a higher competitive advantage. Outsourcing
has become a significantly cheaper method to complete work (Willcocks, L. P., & Lacity, M. C.
2012). Thanks to online technology, talent can be reached across the world, including

developing countries. In developing countries it costs less to live therefore charging less for
jobs (Oshri, et al. 2015). Outsourcing gives companies a competitive edge through decrease in
cost, and an increase on focus, talent pool and innovation. Furthermore, digital nomads are
freelancers and company owners that companies can outsource to. The analysis of the digital
nomads will provide insight on the effects of the nomadic life and the impact on the work.
This will provide companies with a greater understanding and lessen trust issues with possible
people they outsource to. Moreover, the increase of outsourcing leads to an increase in digital
work for individuals such as digital nomads.
Individuals are evolving; individuals want to find themselves, become more than just a
person, to have purpose (Cohen, S. A. 2011) and according to Deci, E. et al. (2000) using
extrinsic motivation is not a method of the future, concerning cognitive jobs. As an example
of the success of the possible future, one of the biggest companies with a remote workforce
IBM offers community that suits each individual. Gluessing (2008) claims office structure has
a large impact on individuals mind-set thus the quality of work produced. The dated legacy of
the results by volume approach is ineffective (Ferris, T. 2011). Moreover, intrinsic motivation
leads employee’s performance improvement. Deci, E. et al. (2000) explains, creativity is
suppressed by the extrinsic motivations company provides. In the era of technology,
information is reachable along with better opportunities. Change has to succumb to the
traditional forms of contingency structure. Using social and psychological attitude as a
guideline analysis of the drivers of digital nomads for companies to retain and comprehend
employee’s possible state of mind.
Concerning the travel industry, this is a new phenomena that combining work and travel. This
opens up a lot of business opportunities but also societal problems. This will impact the
destination in many ways, for one instance, ‘tech spaces’ are a new form of office and
community for digital nomads. Also, communities will be created for people that pass by
rather than just permanently living there. Through in-depth interviews I identify the gaps in
the market and the future problems that nations may face and business start up ideas.

28

4.1 Research Aim
The purpose of this study is to determine the drivers of becoming location independent. The
drivers will be used as a tool to help identify further differentiation between the drivers of
other long-term travel. Furthermore, Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) theory is used as a
foundation to analyze specific drivers according to contingency structure, lifestyle
preferences and social and psychological attitude. In addition, some effects were identified of
becoming long-term travellers and an analysis is carried out to identify the correlation
between them and the effects of becoming location independent.
To identify further the differentiation of long-term travel to the others of its kind,
characteristics of nomads travel will be analyzed. Some characteristics will include: travel
patterns and purpose of travel. Following this, the effects on the type of travel will then be
examined.
Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) theory on what drives people to travel by their facilitators
and constraints was originally created for telecommuting. The theory is used as a tool in
relation to digital nomads to define the drivers of becoming location independent. From the
work point of view they are working remotely similarly to telecommuters except their
destination is away from their home base. The two most important utilizers form the model
that align themselves with digital nomadism are: contingency structure, lifestyle preferences
and social and psychological attitude. Despite focusing on these themes the other drivers that
were identified by Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994) were intertwined through the dominant
drivers. The other drivers include: perceived choice of travel and perceived facilitators and
constraints in terms of cost, technology and organizational support.
Through my research I found that Benson and O’Reilly (2009) observe that ‘there has yet to
be an adequate explanation of why people might want to turn their experiences from tourism
into a way of life’. Congregating this gap of Benson and O’reilly and using Mokhtarian and
Slamons (1994) theory will lead to the analogy of what are the fundamental push pull factors
that lead people to becoming a digital nomad. Essentially what are the primary drivers for one
to become a digital nomad?
There is continuous debate on the effects of travel on an individual when re-assimilating to
their homeland. Hottola (2004) argues that a traveller is unable to reconnect to the social
norms whilst enduring a reverse culture shock. On the other hand, Cohen, S.A. (2011) argues
this is not due to culture assimilation, but the backpacking subculture has been intertwined
into their belief systems and essentially relocated the self-identity. Furthermore, Migrants do
not identify themselves as tourists, nor as being on holiday (O’Reilly 2007).

Digital Nomads

29

They are reconstructing the norms and values societies have build to sustain a lifestyle. From
structure to fluctuation is what defines a new mobility paradigm. As Kannisto, P. (2014)
pointed out is meaningful subjectivities and lifestyles are indeed produced through networks
of people, ideas, and things moving. Digital nomads are seeking less controlled environment
and normality yet how does this affect them and their environment?
The results will ensure more insight into the Digital Nomadic lifestyle for potential nomads
and companies that wish to embrace the new lifestyle/work style development. From the
conclusions above the following aim was derived from the gaps in the secondary research.
The aim is to discover the drivers of becoming location independent focusing on identity
lifestyle, and contingency structure.

4.2 Research Questions
The following research questions and sub questions have been formulated on the basis of the
aforementioned research gap.
1. What are the travel characteristics of the long-term travel digital nomads?
2. What are the push/pull factors of becoming a digital nomad?
3. What are the effects a lifestyle such as digital nomadism?
I. Travel
II. Work contingency
III. Lifestyle
IV. Social and psychological attitude

The literature review will provide an analogy on digital nomadic drivers. In order to retrieve
the information needed to answer the research questions I will use a qualitative method to
gain more insight into the nomads. This thesis will give an insight to tourism industry,
employers and digital nomads on the effects followed by recommendations. Which, can help
with both future business developments and self-development.

4.3 Potential use of outcomes
The outcome of the research can provide companies with the possible insight into the future
trends and the benefits of them for both the individuals and the companies. This will also
create awareness for the changing values especially in terms of workforce development
(contingency structure), lifestyle preferences and social and psychological needs.

30
This thesis will provide an insight into what motives employees have to leave a 9-5 job. This
information can be used for business development relating to the workforce and social and
psychological attitudes. This could help companies retain their employees.
Concerning lifestyle preferences, using the utility maximizing theory I will analyze the
importance of technology and the advantages of them. The possibilities will be enlightened on
how technology can be used to meet lifestyle preferences that employees may have to create a
better work-leisure balance.
There is a growing interest of alternative practices, lifestyles and the search for the meaning
of life (Haavisto 2010). This opens up many business opportunities for both digital nomads
and people within the tourism industry.
A study carried out by the Information Resources Management (2000) revealed a substantial
increase in quality of work and satisfaction as a result of virtual work arrangement. In my
thesis I will identify the effects of becoming a digital nomads on their own efficiency.
Furthermore, the benefits and the limitations of a remote workforce will be exemplified with
digital nomads interviews.

Digital Nomads

31

Chapter 5: Methodology
For this study, qualitative research was conducted through the investigation of the push/pull
factors and the effects of endorsing a digital lifestyle. I profoundly interviewed 22 digital
nomads that I chose at random in techno spaces. Personal interviews were carried out,
encouraging the participants to provide in-depth explanations for their behavior (Moisander,
J., Valtonen, A., & Hirsto, H. 2009). Furthermore, the questionnaire is designed specifically to

gain in-depth answers through the participant’s attitudes using underlying methods to reach
the predictions made. In this paper I will report the findings that are relevant to the dynamics
of motivation and effects among digital nomads. In this section the sampling procedure, data
collection and data analysis will be outlined.

5.1 Sampling
Concerning the sampling procedure, firstly, techno spaces were located within Chiang Mai.
These techno spaces were found via digital nomad Facebook group and word of mouth. I
received world of mouth through emerging myself into their community by renting a studio
apartment where many nomads lived, attending meet-ups and working in techno spaces.
Nomads were chosen randomly and by using the snowball effect. During the meeting with
nomads, the purpose of the stay in Chiang Mai was introduced followed by the data collection
procedure. More information was exchanged concerning the type of job they carried out and
if it fell under the definition digital nomad that’s being used for this thesis. If they did meet
the criteria, the contact details were exchanged whereby a meeting to proceed would be
arranged.
The criteria consisted of digital nomads that are not bound to a location. The time of being a
nomad was irrelevant as the benefits of new nomads is the pull/ push factors which may be
more current for the nomads. On the other hand, the digital nomads that have been carrying
out this lifestyle longer can help identify further the effects. The total of 22 in-depth
interviews that were conducted, there were 16 different nationalities and 18 different types of
jobs. Ages ranged from 24 to 41. Participants with a lose criteria and diversified characteristic
resulted allow for an array of perspective each knowledgeable in their own perspective.

5.2 Data Collection
The data was collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews. An in-depth interview
enables to analyze perceptions and reactions in more complexity Weiss, R. S. (1994).
However, due to time constraints prolonged immersion in the field (Creswell, 2007) was not
possible. Data was only collected from one main city during a 3-month period rather than
from different times of the year. The in-depth interviews were carried out in the English

32
langue and ranged from 28 to 90 minutes per respondent. The interviews were conducted in
the techno spaces to make the participants comfortable to express themselves. The list of
participant’s age, nationality, and time spent as a digital nomad and job can be found in
appendix (table 1).
The interview was based on responsive interviewing. This type of interviewing involved
asking three types of questions: main questions, probes and follow-up questions. The main
question concerned the push and pull factors and the effects of becoming nomadic to help
structure the interview. Secondly, probes were used to help gain illicit detail i.e. what do you
mean by (phrase or emotion) or can you expand on that? Finally, the follow-up questions test
the ideas that emerge during the interview. This was an important factor as it made the
interview correlate to a conversation (Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. 2011). Following the design
of the questionnaire a pilot test was carried out on one of the digital nomads.

5.3 Data Analysis
Semi-structured interviews will be used in order to answer the research questions and their
sub questions. This information was transcribed and coded. Open coding was undertaken
along with focused and theoretical coding. Themes were derived from the transcribed
interviews by finding key words and relations between each interview. Finally, the themes
were articulated an saturated into categories (i.e., to keep searching for new information until
additional information does not provide additional insight into the category [Creswell, 2007])

5.4 Limitation
The number of digital nomads that will be able to participate will be limited as it is a new
trend of lifestyle. Furthermore, during the observation method of research it is essential to
follow up with a request of using the information discovered, yet not all individuals will allow
for the information to be used. Therefore some vital information may be lost as well as time.
Moreover, despite interviewing digital nomads that are constantly travelling there may be a
location limitation. The pull factor of cost efficiency may strongly relate to the digital nomads
travelling only through developing countries such as Thailand.

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33

Chapter 6: Results
The focus of this chapter is outlaying the results of the qualitative research conducted among
22 digital nomads. The list of names, age, time of being a nomad and occupation of the
participants can be found in the appendix (table 1). All respondents vary in nationalities and
digital occupations. This was purposefully done to have a reasonable spread of expressed
views.
In this section there will be four main segments (6.1 travelling as a nomad, 6.2 lifestyle
preferences, 6.3 contingency structure and 6.4 social and psychological attitude). The last
three sections are devised from the push and pull factors. Furthermore, every section is
completed with the effects it has on the digital nomad.

6.1 Travelling as a Nomad
Travel Patterns
There are many different factors contributing to the differentiation of the long-term travels.
Nomads vary from individual with their travel patterns; the most common travel pattern is to
be based in a certain destination for 1-3 months. Chris, 24, justifies why this is a good
method: “Because I am moving place every month to two months and maybe staying in
certain locations less than a month, I just find that a month is a good time span because you
can get monthly co-working, monthly rentals, monthly - pretty much anything, monthly
phone plan. So a month is a good space to move around in”. Josh, 28, said: “- I lived in
Germany for three months” and similarly Darren, 31: “I think being a digital nomad, moving
on so quickly - like every two or three months into a different place, it helps me not attach to
everything”.
Nomads differentiate themselves from tourists as Rory, 36, explains: “I don't travel as a
tourist - most of the time I don't travel as a tourist. So there's a big difference between
traveling and consuming, I would say. Because a tourist, what does a tourist do? Consumes
different things. Consumes hotel rooms, accommodation, restaurants; consumes leisure,
consumes trips and different things. And traveling has become so mainstream that you always
meet other tourists when you go, and you always do things that other people have done
before. And when I'm doing this I'm not saying I don't enjoy doing this, and I'm not saying I
don't enjoy visiting Machu Pichu or visiting the islands in Thailand and be on the beach. I do,
but when I do it for too many days in a row I feel like I need to work, I need to start meeting
genuine people who won’t see me as a dollar, but who will see me as something else”.

34
Moreover, Chris, 24, opinionates: “I got sort of swayed by the whole idea of travelling, and I
guess, you know, I don't know if I'd call exactly what I do now ‘travelling’. But it's definitely
- well it’s travelling because you know, I move every few months but you -when do you
decide that you know how often you travel means you're travelling? Because for the month
that I'm here I'm not travelling, you know? I have a regular apartment and I'm doing regular
things like working so I'm not really - and I'm not doing touristy stuff most of the time either
so am I travelling? I'm not on a plane every second day, let's just say. ”
Digital nomadism is a way of life rather than a phase of travelling like Maoz & Bekerman,
(2010) other forms of long-term travel. Josh, 24: “- like you know, you travel for a- ok, or a
year and a half and then you go back home. And then everyone’s like, ‘Oh he’s just off doing
some travelling’. And a lot of your friends family assume it’s just a phase, you know?”
The monthly period spent in one destination is derived from convenience. The leases of all
necessities of living in a lace are a measured on a monthly basis. Moreover, nomads are
searching for meaning to even travelling now. A sense of purpose is necessary for the
travellers.

Purpose
There are many different purposes that nomads travel. Some reasons correlate with different
forms of long term travel, nevertheless some elements do differ:
“Never ever. In the last three years I've lived in seven countries, I've been to
maybe fifteen different cities for long periods of time and nothing compares to
Chiang Mai. It's the perfect place; it’s a perfect hub for this I think, because it's
low cost of life, high quality of life. So everybody who has the freedom to work
online, why would they take three years to save, you know, thirty thousand dollars,
if they can do that here in a year” - Maria, 40
“I like experiencing new things, I like living in different places, I like learning
about new cultures, I like being around different environments. I like the
excitement of that, I like the challenge of that. I like to know that I have the
freedom to do that, I like knowing that I don’t have to stay here tomorrow if I don’t
want to - I can get up and wherever I land tomorrow, my work resumes as it did
today. Nothing changes, there’s no switchover process, there’s no nothing. It’s
because everything is on this and an Internet connection, it allows me - that excites
me more than anything, is the freedom to get up and go wherever I want anytime I
want.” - Mark, 39
“Yeah I think I’ll stay longer because my purpose is not to be constantly moving,
but to find things that you love. Like if I love some place I think I would stay but it
would depend on the situation, money and stuff”- Hidi, 25

The purpose of travelling seems to correlate with the excitement of the activity, and the simple
fact that they have the freedom to do it if they please. The fact that with the work a constant is

35

Digital Nomads

presents which differentiates from other long-term travel such as backpacking. Furthermore,
the purpose of travel does not seem to be to see as many places as possible in the short amount
of time possible, yet something that is an internal feeling. A deeper meaning is needed further
than the touristy tangible sites, but still differentiating from living constants.

Living
Digital nomads are redefining the definition of living. They identify as ‘living’ in a certain
destination despite staying there for small period of time, such as a month. They call it
‘living’ because of the daily routine but they are not permanent and do not undertake the
stereotyped tourist ventures. The perceptions Digital Nomads had before becoming one in
comparison to the reality they face on a daily basis. As Hartman, F., & Guss, C. (1996,
August) states the image that is created from working whilst travelling is sitting on a beach in
a luxurious area doing work. Nevertheless the reality is very limited people can work in such
an environment. Despite digital nomads escaping the structure of society, humans need
structure to be efficient and productive. Nomads’ daily routines differ from migrants or
backpackers. Despite nomads attempting to escape the routine society bounded them to,
designing their own makes them more efficient. Migeal, 24, says: “It really helps me to have
a routine, but it's not the classical nine to five as you would have if you were in a corporate
job. I really appreciated my sleep and I'm not willing to do one nighters or work very late and
this is the whole structure”. While Maria responds similarly with: “I have a routine. For me
it's much easier to produce when I have a routine. So yeah, I structure my day like I wake up,
drink my lemon tea, do my twenty minute meditation, have my three morning clients and then
I have the whole day free for me to go to the gym, do my emails, concentrate on work. And
then I have my evening clients and then from Monday to Wednesday I don't go out, but
Thursday, Friday, Saturday I go out for a beer with friends and that's my social time. I try to
not work Friday, Saturday, Sunday when I'm travelling, to try to explore where I am, but
sometimes depending on the project that I’m involved, I’ll work seven days a week because
I'm so happy with what I do. That's kind of like the routine.”

Base
There is a fine line between home and travel: the group that is researched to be homeless
normally refers to the place they grew up as their homes or do not have one rather than the
current place they are living. Despite the word definition for nomad, digital nomads stay in
one place from one month to over a year. Instead of a place they “live” in being called a home
it has been redefined to the term base. While Kannisto, P. (2014) establishes that digital
nomads are homeless there was no other term that was identified to describe their way of
living. Returning to a place helps Darren, 31: “I like to come back, so this is now the second
time I’m coming back to Chiang Mai and it helps me get into the routine - same hotel, same
scooter, same co-working space. Then you even meet friends from before and it helps to have
this kind of ‘home’ feeling.” He uses this method to feel a sense of belonging towards the

36
same hotel. He goes on and explains: “So then I got greeted by the landlord, ‘Hey Darren,
nice that you’re back!’. He even washed my clothes I kept at the place so it feel like a base,
you know - I left clothes there and I will be leaving clothes so then I arrive at the co-working
space, ‘Hi Darren, nice to see you. Cool that you’re back, I didn’t expect this’. So same hotel,
same working place and I even feel like the places I’m eating now, they remember me from
two months ago so that’s what I realized I need to be doing when I’m at the new place always go to the same places.” Here are some more quotes with relation the term ‘base’:
“‘Where is your base?’, and I like this question much more than ‘home’ because
it’s a conscious choice”“ -prefer this to be the base because it’s not home either. I don’t have home” Darren, 31
“We like stability as well. So we would like to have a base at least somewhere you started asking me ‘Where is home?’ Well I don't have a home, I have a bag” Romy, 36
“So I figured that I could just base myself out of Puerto Rico and end up going to
Girona on the summers or something instead. But I do get attached to places, I like
Chiang Mai and I could definitely relocate for a longer period in Girona”- Aaron,
41

As seen in the Literature review Bauman (2005) describes them as ‘people of many places but
no one place in particular’. It is clear that this new phenomenon does not partake in having a
home purse. The definition of home according to the oxford dictionary is: he place where one
lives permanently, which does not define a digital nomad lifestyle. On the other hand base is
defined as a place used as a center of operations, which is much more adopted by the fad.

Attachment
Attachment is one of the topics that became relevant through the interviews. Imaginably, the
relation created between the time basing in a city there and leaving will have been substantial.
“Do I get attached to a place? To a degree, I’ve become attached to
Chiang Mai. I first felt it when I came back from Vientiane and it was like,
‘Oh, I’m coming home’, that’s how I felt.” - Walt, 36
“-or else I would even be more attached still to the work and to The
Netherlands, I think, so it's good to be detached.” - Indra, 25
“And sometimes it's a sum of the experiences there, and sometimes it's just
a feeling that you get which can't really be quantified or explained. And so
I would definitely say that certain cities appeal to me more than others.
Whether I get attached to them or not, well I wouldn’t - I’m not sure if I’d
describe it as attachment, because even if I leave, I know I can come back
to them any time.” - Goa, 38

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Digital Nomads

Attachment is seen as both positive and negative. Attaching to a base is a positive factor as it
makes it feel a part of a place on a deeper lever. On the other hand being attached to your
homeland bounds you to the place and may constrain one from leaving. Nevertheless, as
nomads they are more likely to return to a certain place leaving them content with leaving.
6.1.1 The Effects of Travel
Work-Leisure Balance
Digital nomads affect their mental state when taking a holiday from work. Indra, 35, says:
“I’d say the work. It kind of limits you in getting into the real travelling vibe, kind of stops
you from being totally relaxed because you have meet-ups and things and obligations and
deadlines” and Rory 36, describes how he’s been affected: “It is motivating, changes from
working from your bed to a crappy hotel room which is often the case when we go to - you
know it's a bit luxurious for me - for us - to be in Chiang Mai because there are so many
conveniences for digital nomads. It's actually the number one destination in the world, that's
probably why you're here. But sometimes when you are in rural Bangladesh, there is no
Punspace; there is one hotel if you're lucky. And this hotel doesn't have a table so you have to
work on your bed. So yeah I think being in such an environment with other people living their
dreams, working hard to achieve them, it’s very motivating and it's full of opportunities. You
just talk to your neighbor and then you find opportunities. So yeah, I’m a video producer and
since I'm here, I didn't even look for jobs but I had three proposals coming my way just by
being around this community. So it's very motivating.”

Nomad Burnout
Participants kept discussing burnouts. Nevertheless, these burnouts differ from the 9-5
burnouts. The burnouts stemmed from the travelling, being nomadic and having work on your
hands decreased their energy. Josh, 28, says: “I think travelling actually replaces a lot of the
conventional stress that would be endured in a nine to five job. I think travelling around every
other month - that can burn you out as well. And if you don't have your stuff together, and
again, this is where balance comes in - you don't have yourself balanced, and that can be a
real issue.”

After a certain period of moving constantly there is a need to create a base for a more
extended period of time. In this case its work-travel balance; Rory, 36, explains: “Yes,
totally. Yeah. It did - right now I'm in a phase where I'm trying to find a bit more stability,
less travel. Because for my job I travel - I could - in a month I could travel sometimes change
country twice or three times. It depends on the contract. But I've been travelling a lot in the
last five years so we kind of get a bit - we like stability as well. So we would like to have a
base at least somewhere.”

38
Overall there is less burnout, because when an individual identifies the stress levels increasing
beyond capability they are already located at a holiday destination. May, 29, believes: “some
people who have to find a client by themselves. But they can choose work, then can choose
people they work with. Maybe I think less burnout.” The difference is digital nomads have
the freedom to address the burnout for the period needed as Westle, 36, describes: “Yeah, I
get burnt out sometimes. But it’s perfect because right now I’m good but before Bali I was
pretty burnt out and when I went to Bali it refreshed everything for me, like basically four
weeks of vacation. I worked here and there in between but it kind of gave me a breath of fresh
air, you know, ‘Ok let’s start over.’”

Visa
As Digital nomadism is a new phenomenon there are several developments that have arisen.
Unfortunately for nomads, the visa binds them. As Westley, 36, says: “At least until August,
when my visa runs out, yeah” the visa time restricts nomads of their will to stay longer in one
destination. Aaron, 41, continues to express: “But if you’re a digital nomad, you’re not really
stationed anywhere so you’re gonna go from tourist visa to tourist visa to tourist visa, they’re
not interested in getting your money because you’re not actually living there. So, Thailand is
not going to get taxes from me because I’m only going to be here for a month or two and the
US doesn’t want my money for the first hundred K, which is another really good incentive
not to go back to the US before the end of the year for me.”

Nevertheless Maria, 40, explains the solutions that could be perused: “so I go to the Spanish
embassy in Brazil - and I prove to them that I make at least two thousand two hundred euros
per month and that my money comes from a country different from Spain of course, and that
my expenses are in Spain - so they have a list of expenses there, like health insurance, rent,
blah blah blah. If you have all that criteria they give you a visa in like a month - it’s a
residency. Yeah it's a year visa and then you can renew it for three years and then they give
you your final residency, because you're proving that you're not competing with the Spanish
people and they need the money coming from abroad.” She continues to express how this
would benefit some developing countries, specifically Thailand: “They're actually trying to
approve a new visa for digital nomads or entrepreneurial [sic] - to try to take away the image
from the prostitution type tourism. So backpackers, for example, they want a drink everyday,
digital nomads can’t do that because they have to work. If they do that, then they're not going
to make money”. The image of Thailand can be restored with the digital nomadism.

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Digital Nomads

6.2 Lifestyle Preferences
6.2.1 Pull Factors

Catalyst
The catalyst for this lifestyle was predominantly Tim Ferris’ “The 4- hour work week, escape
the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich”. Rory, 36, describes the book as: “The book, it’s
- why it's like the bible for digital nomads, I guess. Probably what started this digital nomad
trend and I won’t lie, I was a big fan.” From previous research it was evident the book was
impactful, however, the impact is much greater than suspected. This section is an inductive
category and was discovered as participants kept praising it. I then asked most of the
participants their feelings on the lifestyle preference described in the book:
“It’s just one of those eye-opening books, everyone kind of listening knows about it, it’s one
of those books that started the revolution - people saw it was available how that reference of
‘not trading time for money’, that’s a direct Tim Ferriss reference, he says that in his book:
‘When you trade your time for money, you’re not - you’re at a disadvantage. You’re always
going to be a slave to what you’re doing because in order to make money you have to do this.
If you can’t separate that, you’re always going to be a worker.’ So that book was influential
for a lot of digital nomads, not necessarily so much for me but it definitely had some eye
opening stuff from what I read.” Westley , 36 (American)
“I mean, that’s the source - that’s the book that inspired a lot of people to start passive
income lifestyle businesses and when I was in California - even though he is based in
California - at Silicon Valley, it’s all about doing something big. And as I said before, I’m
different like most nomads. And maybe it goes back to my life as a startup guy but I haven’t
come across Tim Ferriss’ thoughts for a long, long time. Actually when I decided to step out
of my startup and looking for options then I came across this book and I was like, ‘Fuck yes!
This is how you should have started’”-Darren, 31(German)
“Yes, that’s almost like required reading for - to sort of live this lifestyle, a lot of people have
been inspired by that book. And how do you feel about it? Oh, it's a great book - I mean it's
kind of - the way I see it is he kind of opened people's eyes to a new way of thinking. You
know it's an old book compared to how fast the digital world is moving, 2007 is like an age
ago. But he really opened people's eyes and showed that like, ‘Look, you can do business this
way.’ So I think that that's a foundation of a lot of this movement and I think most digital
nomads would have read that book.” – Chris, 24 (Australian)
“I feel as though a lot of people read the book and I think at the time it came out, it was
almost a bit ahead of its time because the technology - although it was emerging, it was
nowhere near it is today. And so the whole concept of - part of the four-hour work week says
to basically outsource yourself, like convince your job to let you work remotely.

40
And I feel as though the facilities to allow it to happen back when the book came out were
nowhere near as plentiful as they are today, so I feel as though the book today is a lot more
relevant than it was came out.” – Goa, 37 (American)
“It’s a nice read and you can profit a lot of it - a lot of the basic concepts and ideas behind it
of earning money in US dollars or whatever and spending in Baht or Rupiah or something
like that. Also the outsourcing aspect of having virtual assistance, but there's a lot of valuable
information about how to micromanage people above, but actually he doesn’t recommend
micromanaging” –Migeal, 24 (German)
“Couldn’t stop talking about the book to my friends, especially one friend in particular I was
reading it and saying, ‘Oh, you wouldn't believe what this guy is doing and talking about’,
and so I was really convinced and I think this really helped me start my projects like many of
the nomads. So I think this book really had some impact in my life, though I never finished it
but it really influenced me, yes. Now, I think it is also one of the reasons why it's becoming a
trend in business, but mostly I have positive feelings about this book.”Rory, 36 (Belgium)
“But I wouldn't say it changed me too much - well, it did help me separate a bit of work and
life, maybe concentrated a bit more. Like saying ‘Alright, I’m going to work from two in the
afternoon till four in the afternoon, no distractions and get my shit done and only answer
email at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day’. So it helped me optimize a bit so
that was a very positive thing. But overall I was already a nomad so to speak, when I read it.”
Aaron, 41 (Puerto Rican)

It is unmistakably a tool individuals have used to lean on to gain the knowledge and the
confidence to achieve this lifestyle. This book doesn’t focus on one nation but as seen
participants are from several countries, even more than the ones displayed above have been
impacted by such a book. The books dominant lesson is to not trade time with money. Digital
nomads have become more aware of the limited time and take advantage of the present.
Especially as a digital nomad you have limited time with the people you meet as Josh, 28,
says: “in Thailand and you're not present you’re probably going to die pretty soon because
there’s stuff sticking out of cement, there’s cars, you know. Anyone who’s walked down the
streets of Chiang Mai knows that if you're not present you’re probably getting run over by a
tuk-tuk pretty soon (laughs). So again, it teaches you very quickly and you’re meeting new
people as well. And you start to realize that being in the moment and enjoying your time with
the people that you're probably not going to see maybe ever again, or not for a very long
time, is an important thing. And it teaches you to savour every moment. It organically pushes
you to be more present, stop being in your own head and experience the world around you
because the world around you is forever changing”. Furthermore, as a digital nomad it
encourages to design your life in a way to suit you as Migeal, 24, justifies: “- I’m thinking

Digital Nomads

41

less about the future and more present to the moment and as I enjoy what I'm doing, I don't
need to escape off situations.”

Despite the inspiration it has given digital nomads, 4-hour workweek is perceived to be a
dream. Nevertheless this creates a goal with this kind of lifestyle, not necessarily 4 hours a
week but to be more efficient in the exercises you partake in. Migeal, 24: “But I think that
this working only four hours is a dream - just like a vision or a dream people that he wants to
sell to people is. But for ninety five percent of digital nomads I’ve met so far, I don't think it
will happen - let’s see how it's going for me, sure it’s a vision for me as well, but it's not my
main purpose of working here.”

Freedom
In terms of freedom, this is one of the main drivers of becoming location independent. The
digital nomads value freedom as a high priority. Below are some of the many quotes of
nomads and their thoughts on freedom:
“That I have the freedom to use my time as if I want to because I decided to take this
path, become my own boss. So on top of being a happy, few of the white Europeans
with enough money, I have the luck to organize my time as I wish and be where I want
to be. So I feel that very few people on this planet have this much luck. This - it’s
important to be conscious of this. Many people take it for granted”-“So I guess it's
very difficult to have it all, like to have freedom and the family and the house and the
money; very difficult unless you are very successful. So far I think I did the right
choices. I made the right choices, I’m happy about my choices and I completely
assume them. I feel like, ‘Ok, the day I really want to create a family - to start a family,
then I would find a way to do it.’ Hopefully without having to become an employee
again but sometimes I feel the pressure, like, ‘Ok, how can I make a bit more money so
I could be thinking about these future plans.” –Rory, 36
“I enjoy the freedom of it, knowing I can do it everywhere, knowing I can start when
I want, finish when I want. It’s something that I chose, I chose the Amazon business
model. It didn’t choose me. I liked it and I went into it, someone didn't force that on
me. I like the business model, I like going through it and I like doing everything
around it, find it very interesting” -Thor, 30

“-right now I’m enjoying my freedom a bit so I can make my own hours. And
sometimes I have to convince Inez a little bit of that as well but no, this is fun. I like the
job I’m actually doing and I also like the fact that I can stop whenever I want.” -Mick,
39
“But I do think the freedom to be able to live anywhere move around on - that gives
you an edge that you don't get when you're working in an office everyday”-Jazz, 30
“I want to be able to work anywhere I choose, which is one of the benefits of being a
digital nomad. So I think yeah, it's really made me value independence and freedom
of time and movement” -Cory, 29

Freedom forms part of one of the main characteristics and pull factors of becoming a
digital nomad. The feeling that they were not forced to become location independent

42
attracts them. They identify that this is a path and to become location independent
there are some variables such as settling in a house with a family. Nevertheless, with
the tone of language, “the day I really want to create a family” and “right now”
indicates that this may not be an eternal lifestyle for them.
6.2.2 Push Factors

Safety
Concerning the lifestyle, push factors greatly vary due to the various different nationalities.
My question to Hidi, 25, lead her to describe her Colombian situation: “I do, but I think it’s
mostly because I am from Colombia and where I live is not so safe. So sometimes I feel
safer”, she continued with: “ because in Colombia there are a lot of thieves and you cannot
walk on the street with your cellphone - well you can but there’s a huge probability that you
will get robbed. So I have been robbed before with a knife and stuff so I don’t feel safe
there, so when I come here for example, I do feel a lot safer than there”. Similarly Dan, 24,
said: “Yeah, because we came from Colombia so I think it’s safer. We feel really safe here,
more than our home”. They express that nomadic life is a safer option for the Colombians.

Escapism
These push factors correlate with long-term travel factors. Thor, 30, says: “I think most
people who travel are trying to escape something, it's a form of escapism I think. Although I
don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, I mean, you escape in some way. Some people escape
in their jobs you know, they go into their work, and they talk and socialize six, seven hours a
day. That's their escape and for me it's getting on a plane and getting out the door. Everyone
has their own thing” escapism comes in many forms and for some digital nomads its in the
form of travel. Aaron also agrees and says “So a little bit of running away and a little bit to
see the world and see what's out there and sometimes just to escape the heat of Puerto Rico or
Texas where I used to live - just to escape the heat for a couple months.”

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Digital Nomads

6.2.3 Effects of Lifestyle Preference

Spirituality
For some participants, the interest in spirituality is a push factor such as Maria, 40: “They
change from time to time. But my interest today is meditation. I've been meditating for a year
and a half, that's the reason I came to Thailand first time, to do my first ten-day silence
retreat. I’m actually becoming a mindfulness trainer as a hobby for teachers of elementary
schools.” But for the most part spirituality is an effect of the nomadic lifestyle as David, 26
“And if I do want to do yoga or go on a meditation retreat for five days I can, I mean I can’t
right now because the client work I have to do is day to day. But it has given me the
opportunity to go out and do things that if I was working in some other kind of job, I wouldn’t
have gone out and done or be able to do everyday”. Thailand’s country’s religion is
Buddhism, which has also had an effect on digital nomads like Rory, 36 “Recently, I got in
contact with Buddhism so that’s another center of interest, Buddhist meditation, Buddhist
philosophy”.

A few other participants mention the distinction between religion and spirituality Rory, 36,
says: “I would say I'm spiritual though I’m not religious. I wouldn't call myself religious but
spiritual, definitely thinking about existential questions, important questions. Sometimes I
feel like, ‘Ok, I need to take a break and do, like a retreat or meditate regularly, something to
nourish my spirituality, I would say, yes.” Roe, 30, states that spirituality is actually a part of
humanity: “I think we all are to a degree. I guess, what is spirituality? It’s my philosophy and
belief is that our human existence is a moment in time and we are spiritual beings having a
human reality and we’re so much more than just this body - and there’s lots of ways in which
you can connect further into something much greater than what we see here now in this very
moment”. The nomadic life affects Darren, 31, in a similar way: “I’m turning spiritualized.
Even though I wouldn’t label it as if. I just would say, I’m mindful, I’m (inaudible - 22.41), I
don’t want to be labeled. And what I’m doing right now is like, because I’m resisting labels
and attachments so much, I’m putting together my life philosophy as I want it. So I take parts
of Buddhism, I take parts of being a German, I take parts of being an entrepreneur, of being a
digital nomad, into my philosophy. And I’m not saying that’s good or bad, it works for me.
But I’m not searching for only digital nomad or only being an entrepreneur, only being
Buddhist, only being Muslim or only being vegetarian. It’s a weird mix and I found this to be
really refreshing because a lot of ‘digital nomads’ as a label do this as well. I mean, the more
evolved ones, they wouldn’t consider themselves digital nomads, it just happens to - we’re
living here, this is our base, let’s share our values and let’s see how we interact.”

44
The spiritual side has led some participants to included spirituality in their morning routine.
There was a pattern of morning routines that took place in order to enhance the mental
strength to start the day.
“I would say my typical day I'll wake up, I’ll stretch - first thing I do is go in my bathroom and
stretch for ten, fifteen minutes to wake my body up. And then I do this course called Three
Hundred so a hundred push ups, a hundred sit ups, a hundred air squats every day
- Josh, 28
“It’s meditation, yoga, reading and spiritual stuff and going into the office. I try to practice this
deliberately but if I knew I needed to be in the office by nine, because all my colleagues are in the
office, this would create pressure and stress for me. But because I am my own boss, I can set up
the life I want and I always tell the people I’m working with, ‘Please live the life you want, set it
up the way you want’. I only care about the results you deliver, I don’t want you to be next to me
at seven thirty as I start my work day. Just do whatever feels good to you and I think that’s the
biggest advantage - now look at it. Even though it’s extremely hot, the sun is shining every day
and this in itself creates a positive mood for me. In Germany in winter, it’s dark, it’s cold, it’s
grey.”- Danny, 31
“I do like an hour of yoga in the morning, maybe fifteen minutes, thirty minutes meditation”Thor, 30

One of the perquisites of being a digital nomad is the freedom that comes with it. The control
of designing their own routine allows individuals to partake in their morning activities. The
state of mind and body is of high importance to the nomad community. Furthermore, the
travel factor influences the nomad’s consciousness and possibly the importance of a mourning
routine. Also relating to Darren’s, 31, statements, it was evident that he did not appreciate the
action of labeling.

Labels and Perceptions
Darren, 31, says: “I wouldn’t even label myself as a digital nomad” “It’s just a packet for
people to be put in, right?” on the other hand Chris, 24, says: “What actually made me fully
commit to web development was the discovery of the digital nomad movement” The term
digital nomads have been identified with both a positive association and negative. It is seen
negatively due to the minority that claims they identify as digital nomads yet barely do work
and have no aim. This has creative negative association among the nomad community of
actually calling themselves one. They believe that these labels come with unnecessary
preconditions and perceptions:

“I don't like to call myself a digital nomad because what have I told you before that I think
it's a trend that”- Rory, 36
“I don’t give a shit about labels. I wouldn’t even label myself as a digital nomad. It’s just a
packet for people to be put in, right?”- Darren, 31
“Now I think the reason why I don’t like the term ‘digital nomad’ - and I’ll go into why I
think other people don’t like it in a moment - is I feel like the reason why I jumped on a

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Digital Nomads

plane in the first place because I was being put into a box and I was being labeled. And
there's a lot that’s - even going home now and one reason why I think a lot of people doing
this lifestyle start this journey is because they feel like there’s an unbelievable amount of
pressure to live their life a certain way. And the reason why I don’t like the term ‘digital
nomad’ is because I guess, it’s coming from that place where you’re try to put everyone in a
box. You’re trying to say that everyone doing this is called a certain thing.”- Josh, 28

The term Digital Nomad as a working traveller sounds glamorous and it deceives the starters
from the reality through the imaging the media portray. The misleading imaging of becoming
a digital nomad is working on the beach. This imaging has that also is derived from online
social media platforms has glamorized the lifestyle to make it more intriguing. As a digital
nomad you are going to post a photo of the picturesque places you work, which may be once
a month rather than the coffee shop you go to on a daily basis. Digital nomads need the right
environment to work efficiently despite some of the deceptive photos.
“So a lot of people kind of get sold on the glamour points of being a digital nomad,
people get sold on the fact that, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy’s sitting in a tree-house in
Indonesia overlooking rice paddies and he’s working’. That’s the type of thing you see
when you go to Instagram and you look up ‘digital nomad’ or something. You’ll see
ridiculous shit sometimes (laughs), like someone sitting in a hammock almost on the
edge of a cliff, some fucking waterfall or some shit, you know? And people are like,
‘You’re not working, dude, like seriously, you may be writing something if you’re a
writer but - you’re trying to get inspired’. A lot of people see those things and that’s
what drives them to do that, which I get it, yeah that’s cool man, I want to be on a cliff
on my laptop so I think it’s cool, it’s exciting but there’s downfalls to it too.” –
Westley, 36
“ I mean it’s been great, I still prefer it to an office job any day, I’m never going back to
that, it's not been quite how I glamourized it in my head.”- Thor, 30

The imaging can be quite deceptive and create false illusions of the reality of the digital
nomadic life. This can also impact the imaging of ones identify as there is a deception. Digital
nomadism is used to escape the constraints that societies have created. These people want to
escape the comfort/restrictions that society have devised and design their own life, having full
control of the values and environment they seek. Essentially the work-life balance is
increasingly important and digital nomadism is one way to balance it out.

Understanding of the Concept of Digital Nomadism
The concept of digital nomadism has created confusion among the nomads themselves.
“In my terms, I think it’s pretty much the standard, so travelling around working, being not stuck to
one place and having the freedom to go wherever you want travelling and being able to do work
and get an income”- Mick, 39
“My terms is - I don’t even really know what the actual definition is but what I would say a digital
nomad is, is basically a group of people that - there’s different interpretations for it “ Westley, 36

46
“I think a digital nomad is really anybody who has experience in digital - is currently working in
digital and as the desire to lead a kind of nomadic lifestyle, and not be tied down to one location or
one city” Jazz, 30

The language the participants are using (e.g. “I think”, “really” and “I don’t even really
know”) indicates that they have a general idea of the term but do not know of the specifics.
Furthermore, this new phenomenon creates confusion among the nomads’ family and friends.
Gao, 38, expresses: “My parents don’t understand how I work, they are not used to the idea of
nomads.” As Hidi, 25, explains: “-my friends don’t understand what I’m doing. It’s not a
pleasant feeling if everybody’s judging you and when you come here, nobody’s judging you
because they’re doing the same.” Talking about the friends back from his hometown, Thor,
30, says: “My friends, they’re not unsupportive but they’re not supportive either. I just think
they probably don’t understand why I’m doing it, not through any kind of evil intent of their
own, just because it’s not kind of how they see their life, they can’t see how anyone would
wanna travel around the world and work.” Much confusion has been addressed, especially
with hometown associates like family and friends.

6.3 Contingency Structure
6.3.1 Pull Factors

Techno Spaces
Working from an environment in third spaces such as cafes or co-working areas also has its
preconceived expectations. Techno spaces have acted as pull factors for the nomad
community. This can impact individuals in both a positive and a negative way:

“I think again I had glamorized views of before I came from London, I thought I was
going to a coffee shop every day, talk to a person next to you, meet all these different
interesting people every day. It’s not like that. A lot of the time you can’t really chat
to anyone, just work by yourself. It’s ok, it’s not the most glamorous part of it. I
mean, I have started working more and more in my room now so sometimes it's fun, I
get more done in my room.”- Thiru, 30
“Not completely yet maybe because I was very stressed when I left The Netherlands
a month ago so I think I'm still de-stressing, whilst keeping up business and whilst
coping with the heat.”- Inez, 35
“I do like it, I like co-working spaces quite a bit because I feel like everyone is there
for a common purpose and it makes it a lot easier to cultivate interaction, figure out
what each person is up to. When you're in a café, not everyone there is to work,
maybe they're there to just update their Facebook, chat with their friends on Skype.
But in a co-working space - the only reason someone would have a co-working space
- is so you have a common thread from the beginning” Goa, 38
“I met Nick and I’ve met a couple of other people who are expats living here and
also coming to a co-working facility has also helped ‘cos you meet a lot of people
who have similar interests or at least a similar lifestyle.”- Aaron, 41

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Digital Nomads

“I've met a few good friends from it but yeah, there’s certain co-working spaces and
these are the ones generally in the cities that you’ll meet locals that are serious
about business and they're looking to - I guess their main reason or one of their main
reasons for working at a co-working space might be that they can’t afford an office
yet but they don't want to work from home” “And this whole space is so exciting to
me and I'm really passionate about it” “how I can promote this co-working thing
more because I think that is really - it’s one of the most exciting things I feel in this
movement that” Chris, 24

Concerning techno spaces, there is a difference between cafes and co-working areas. Cafes,
are also used as third spaces whereas co-working areas, everyone is there for a common goal,
ore specifically co-working areas nomads have the choice to be there. Furthermore, the spaces
provide opportunities for the local businessmen looking for collaboration. Co-working areas
provides a natural space for social and business purposes both foreigners and locals to work
from.

Virtual Office
For companies that have work digitally, a virtual office is “great, I feel like people are more
efficient working in the environments that are comfortable and natural to them and so the
whole idea of virtual office I think is fantastic, but only for people that are highly disciplined.
If you're not a disciplined person, you need an office to keep you on task and motivated” says
Goa, 38, who has made his own workforce remote. Relating to the freedom one has with a
virtual office is one of the main benefits. Virtual offices allows people to allow “people can
really focus on what we want to do and if the company structure and the task is pretty clear,
everyone can design their lifestyle and do whatever they like. So I think it's really the future”
Migeal, 24.
Goa, 38, continues with expressing whether it’s effective or not: “I feel like it can be both. I
feel like they're more motivated because a lot of people don't work on the same time schedule,
it’s like if you're in a traditional nine to five job, you show up at nine, you’re supposed to be
at maximum efficiency a nine in the morning till five or whatever. And just not everyone
works like that. I feel like when you have a remote office, you can work when you are the
most efficient. For some that’s noon to nine, for some that's two pm to midnight. And so
when you work from a virtual office, you have the ability to work when you're the most
efficient. However this only works for people that are highly disciplined, otherwise they'll just
not work at all”. This way of life is clearly not for everyone; discipline is a major factor that
contributes to a successful work life away from the office.
For some digital nomads a location bound office is inefficient; “because the guys that I’ll be
working with would be in different countries and I would have to pay office rents, I would
have to base my work around having them local and it creates all kinds of friction I don’t
need in the digital age” Walt, 33. Technology is pulling people to become more remote,

48
giving them the facility and the option. “It doesn’t makes sense to be there in the office
spending time for - sometimes you don’t have enough work and you have to be there waiting
or doing other things, which you just do to keep yourself busy, you know? For people who
code and web designers, I think it’s the future, it doesn’t make sense to be in an office” says
Ian 36.
6.3.2 Push Factors

The 9-5
The 9-5 is relevant as the digital nomads are resisting the societal structure of the 9-5-work
day. The passionate responses indicated they felt strongly about the lifestyle. There are
several reasons why participants opted for another path:

“-because when you’re working in an office environment, you’re given a job and you’re told
what to do. You can’t really push yourself outside of the certain square. Whereas when you’re
working on your own business, it’s all you, you’ve got to do everything yourself, gotta be very
proactive and you’ve also got be very - got to stick up for yourself - you’ve got to understand
people and how things work, I think, and it can really teach you a lot, whether you do that
remotely or from London. Just starting a business community, you can learn a lot from
there.”- Thor, 30
“Because when you’re working in a corporate environment and you’re doing your dream stuff on
the side, you never have enough time to explore other opportunities. You always have at least forty
hours dedicated to that, that’s just your work.” “I think that’s a lot of people’s goals, because
when you're trading time for money you're kind of a slave to your work and you’re doing what you
have to do in order to get a paycheck. But if you asked anyone at their job with a nine to five,
‘Would they show up and do the same thing that they're doing if they weren’t going to get paid for
it?’. I guarantee ninety nine percent would say no. You're only doing it to receive a paycheck.”-“
But again I just didn't feel fulfilled with what I was doing - the current task that - anybody in that
position could do it, you know? And after the first four or five years like, I could do my job in a
couple of hours and you know I’d have to sit there for eight hours”- Westley, 36

Most participants described themselves as over-qualified and over-skilled for the work they
were progressing. The nomads as individuals were not satisfied with employment, therefore
used this as a motivator to leave and become a digital nomad. Rory, 36, also states the
reasoning for leaving was: “Basically because I was never satisfied as an employee”.

Societal structure has just forced everyone to work 8 hours a day despite the speed or the
quality of work that is carried out. Indra, 35, says: “I'm a little bit old fashioned so I always
say people have to come in at eight and finish at five but I’ve actually come over that idea
now so I think it's the future. I don't know if it's always as efficient as being at an office, but I
think the combination is very good and it gives people the opportunity to not just work their
whole life but also experience whilst working and being - actually it’s always what Michele
says, ‘As long as you're doing your task, getting your targets right, why - I mean, if you can

Digital Nomads

49

do it in two hours, why want to work eight?’ Whereas I always think, ‘Yeah, but if you can do
it in two hours, that means you can do four times as much in eight hours’. So we’re struggling
with that. But I think it should be the future.” Josh, 28, gives an example and uses a metaphor
to describe the current societal structure: “If you look at very creative industries, they've all
adopted this mentality - humans need variety, they need to move around. There's a reason
why we lock prisoners up in very small cells, it’s because it’s a punishment (laughs). There’s
a reason for that. So, as a company, do you want to be punishing your workers? Do you want
to make them sit in a cubicle? And say that you can’t leave? If you're doing that as a business
owner then, ok, you may be getting the tasks ticked off, you might be getting your work done,
but is that person going to stay there long term? Is that person going to be part of the culture?
And that's an important thing as well, because the more companies fight this, the more they're
going against the cultural advantage of having people moving around, interacting, being
comfortable within their space, will determine how much their business thrives.” This
displays the importance of intrinsic motivation for digital nomads. The restriction of the
contingency structure affects the individual’s creativity skills.”

6.3.3 Effects of a Contingency Structure

Creativity
The constant movement was sure to have an effect on creativity. Further expanding on this
theory are 3 participants:
“If you change circumstance, maybe you can get inspiration from your
circumstances and you can be more creative maybe, yeah I think so”- May, 29
“I feel like some sort of creativity, like I enjoy writing and stuff. Especially when I
travel I have really interesting stuff that comes into my head that I just love to right
down and I wouldn't say any real belonging”- Thor, 30
“It’s a bit of a creative job as well so I have to come up with new ideas all the time
for questions and I know this year that I got a lot more ideas and get into a nice
flow, which is nice. Yeah, and working in different spaces, different countries,
different surroundings is definitely working for me”- Mick, 39

The lifestyle not only benefits the partakers on a personal level but also a work level. The
constant change of environment stimulates different ideas, which essentially leads to
increasing problem solving skills.

Problem Solving
Josh, 28, describes his problem solving as a quicker decision making process: “I feel like I
think quicker, I don’t dwell and make - I don’t have the decision atrophy like some people
mull over stuff for a very, very long time and they don't take action, ‘Well, if I do this, maybe
I should do it this way’. I take action a lot quicker now because I try to limit the decision
making process because a lot of the time it’s a very stressful process so the more that you put

50
yourself in the process when you have to make a decision, the more it wears you down
mentally and physically so if you can make that decision faster and just move with it.
You basically get yourself to the fork in the road and take one or the other, sometimes it’s
wrong (laughs), but sometimes you’ve just got to take it and fail and come back and get to the
next fork, you know? So doing that gives you the same thought process for figuring out issues
or whatever, when something arises on a project that you have to make a quick decision on,
you just do it. It may not be right but you can adjust later on.” The use of energy is not worth
giving up to make a decision. Westley, 36, expresses that: “You become a better problem
solver because you don’t necessarily expect everything to be perfect, you know? But at home,
you know and you can predict, ‘Ok, if something happens- If I get sick, I go to this hospital’.
If you’re in Vietnam and you get sick, you really have to just think on your feet all the time.
As a traveller you just have to figure shit out all the time.” The challenges of travelling and of
working are combined which creates double the amount. To succeed fast decision has to be
made or they will accumulate and drain ones energy.”

Efficiency
Information Resources Management (2000) showed that telecommuting was more motivating
than working in an office. The results found of remote working were similar. Time is precious
to Digital Nomads, Mick, 39, says: “Yeah, I do think I work a lot more efficiently than I did
back home because I don’t want to waste time playing about on the Internet while I can do a
lot of other nice stuff here so I think I’m sort of more fresh in the head.”
The commute for some people was draining, before even reaching the workplace they were
already drained of energy as Westley, 36, describes: “Someone who has to drive an hour in
and out of work, that’s an extra two hours, that’s ten hours a day out of a twenty four hour
day, that’s almost half the time that you have in a day is dedicated to work and eight of those
hours you’re sleeping”. The time wasted simply commuting can be regenerated into work for
the company. Furthermore, Having a workforce in one place also wastes time. Goa, 39,
expresses: “Before it was, walking through the office and asking someone where they are
with the project, but once we went remote, it forces us to utilize these tools a lot more. And so
in those instances, we also became more efficient.”
Travelling helped Mark, 39, respect his money and become more efficient with it: “The
biggest thing it’s affected me is that before I went travelling in 2010, I used to spend a lot of
money and when I went backpacking, I learned to respect money a lot more And then I really
switched my view completely about money and how much I should be spending versus how
much I should be making.”

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Digital Nomads

The commute to work has can have an effect on the efficiency of the time spent at work due
to the energy need to get there. Also, as Goa says you make use of the tools available online,
Wesltey, 36, continues to describe some: “But now with like, Slack and Skype and all these
different tools, you know, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Apps for Business - like
there's so many different ways to collaborate online that you don't have to be the same place.
So we prefer to run a mobile or remote team because it allows people to live where they want
and also the cost savings”

Achievement
There is one of the issues of becoming a remote worker is lack of achieving
acknowledgement. As a digital nomad, Jazz, 30, explains: “I think it’s probably harder to feel
the achievement because it's really only you you’re relying on. You know working in a
company, a lot of praise is coming from different directions - your boss, your co-workers, you
know - people you help out. So on a constant basis you're getting praise for, ‘Oh thank you,
you helped me, you did such a great job etc’, and that's kind of on you to motivate yourself
when you’re a digital nomad.”, yet she goes on to state that: “I think true success is - goes
really hand in hand with happiness. I don't think success can really - yes it can be defined by
money, it can be defined by ‘number of clients’ or whatever you’re, you know KPI is for
measuring. But I think true success is when you realize that you are happy doing what you're
doing to make a living and it's giving you joy and pleasure and fulfillment” therefore,
achievement can be seen in everyday living when you design a lifestyle such as a Digital
Nomad, if this lifestyle suits the individual.”

Work achievements may be hard to measure unless you write down goals. If you are
personally happy that is an achievement in itself. John, 28, says: “- I think success is about
doing what it takes to make yourself happy. Whether that’s through location independence,
it’s probably partly through location independence. At the end of the day, sometimes when
you’re unhappy it’s not really the location, it’s deeply about who you are as a person as well.
So going to a new place obviously helps but you need to work on yourself as well.” Most
things relate back to happiness, and working on individuals personal problems. Both work
and leisure time are interrelated and affect one another.

Roe, 30, blurs the lines between work and personal achievements and says: “Everyone’s
journey is different. For me, I have always been conditioned with an employee frame, so the
online entrepreneur life can be very glorified but it’s also really fucking hard work and - sorry
for swearing (laughs) - in my opinion, business is one of the greatest personal developments
you will every go through. You are confronted with all your stuff, all of your beliefs, all of
your challenges, where your comfort zone is, where your stretch zone is - all of these things

52
you’re faced with, and you have to face them to elevate yourself further and grow and make a
greater an greater impact in your business and your life.” Again Roe refers back to the
comfort zone, the place nomads believe you have to step out of in order to grow to your
potential both work and personal wise.

Outsourcing
Outsourcing is currently being discovered and facilitating digital nomads with minor projects
or jobs they simply don’t want to complete themselves.
“Western designer as well right now within this climate in the world, there’s a lot of
developing countries that have access to online platforms that could deliver fairly good
design and very cheaply. So Western designers get priced out of market for the simple
stuff now, which is fine.” “But when things are going well and I’ve been outsourcing
projects and stuff, that has gone down to as little as four.” - John, 28
“I mean, a lot of the development was outsourced internationally as well, because you
know, obviously you're going to get cheaper labor which is a benefit. But you know some
of the disadvantages can also kind of be you're on totally different hours for working, it’s
hard to communicate”- Jazz, 30
“It’s actually good, it’s much easier than having an employee, you pay them for what they
do and you know what you're getting. And if you find the right people - obviously I’ve
bumped my nose a few times as well. Actually the first programmer that I hired, I paid him
a lot of money to build the website and he turned out to be manic depressed, or what is it
called? Manic depressive, and he just left, he was off and I’d paid him already but the
website wasn't finished so it's not easy to find the right people but if you find them it’s
great.” - Indra, 35
“Well I feel like it's great, it’s focused on accomplishing a task without the legal
wrangling of the full time employee, because as you may or may not, know maintaining an
employee is actually quite difficult from a legal standpoint and it comes with lots of
liability.So in that sense, outsourcing is great because it's just much easier and puts you
less at risk.”- Goa, 38

Outsourcing is a method of hiring cheap labor or simply hiring a skillset that is not in-house.
As Jazz, 30, mentions the time zones are an issue for the nomad community. Outsourcing has
led nomads to more possibilities. As Josh describes, it can reduce one’s daily work
dramatically. It also is said to hold less risk from a legal standpoint.

Time Zones
As Jazz, 30, mentions: “The time zones are an issue for the nomad community as a whole”.
Migeal, 24, describes his experience as: “Yeah, being just by myself, being in a different time
zone, having no contact - it’s difficult to adapt”. The time zone difference acts as a
disadvantage among the nomad community as Westley, 36, describes: “I would say from my
perspective the only real disadvantage is - so I have my main developer in Toronto, my
business partner’s in San Francisco, I’m in Thailand, so we’re in three different time zones.

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Digital Nomads

That’s the biggest disadvantage at this point because trying to communicate or coordinate
times where we all can be online to work - because a lot of times, yes we can send a task over
via email, someone can work on it and bring it back.”

6.4 Social and Psychological Attitude
6.4.1 Pull Factors

Food and Culture
Physiological aspect refers to breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion.
Digital nomads home countries fulfill most of theses needs, nevertheless, the food and culture
and people acts as a minor driver become a nomad. Thiru, 30, says: “You get to meet very
interesting people, you get to see new cultures and new lifestyles, new food” and Westley, 36:
“Yes, I like to learn about new cultures, I like to eat new food, I like to experience and see
how other people live their lives”.

As seen the food is not the main subject in these

paraphrases but it’s an added value to the lifestyle they are living. With the exception of the
food aspect all other physiological aspects remain constant. Romy, 36, describes how the
nomadic experience has allowed him to appreciate physiological aspects of his life “So to be
in contact with these people really opened my eyes on how lucky I was. I'm lucky to be born
in Belgium, to I have a European passport, to have a house with running water, with
electricity when I turn on the switch, with parents who paid my education without a
problem”.

6.4.2 Push Factors

Comfort Zone
The movement of digital nomadism stems from those whom want to escape societies
structure. Firstly, the nomads’ drivers extend beyond the comfort of their home to entail an
alternative way of living. Chris, 24, describes his opinion on the various comfort zones:
“They’re working their reliable jobs and supporting their families and all that, but there's
really no you're not wrong or right for doing this or wanting to do this. So you know, there’s
people that don't want to be digital nomads, they like their life back home. It is comfortable,
some people like being in their comfort zone and others might be stimulated and challenged
enough back home that they don't even need to - they’ve got so much on their plate already
and doing still work than inspires them. And then you've got the people in the middle of that,
just sold on the dream I guess, that ‘Oh yeah, digital nomad, that sounds cool.’ But you know,
they're not going to take any steps towards it and it's just a pipe dream. And then you’ve got
the people that are actually doing it and the people on the two sides are - that’s cool, keep
doing what you're doing but the people in the middle who are saying they want to be digital
nomads and who aren't doing anything towards it - take a look at yourself and see, do you
really want it? Because if you want it, you’ve got to start making plans and maybe start

54
making sacrifices to live this lifestyle. But you know, if you really want then you definitely
should do it, because you'll find at the end that, ‘I'm glad I did it”; Chris, 24, depicts the
different types of comfort zone and depending on the person it depends on what it is.
Nevertheless, comfort zones in general have resulted as a theme that digital nomads
constantly addressed. Bellow, an array of reasons participants left their own comfort zones to
peruse the digital nomadic lifestyle.
“I was like a little baby in a crib, I had my little bottle, had my blanket, so comfortable and
stuff and so I didn’t want to leave. So it’s hard for me to be like - just cut that off, that being
so comfortable, and then moving into some place that was unknown. But I’m glad I did it
because a - I’m happier, b - I see more opportunities than I ever have.” - Westley, 36
“I don’t know if it was confidence or anything, it was more being curious to how it would be
to live abroad and just get out of your own comfort zone, experiencing more than just nine to
five every day and stuck in traffic. Confidence - I wasn’t insecure about it or anything. I quit
my job at Belgium at the time, which I didn’t have a really good time anyway so it was more
curiosity than anything else. “it’s nice in the comfort zone. That’s why it’s called the comfort
zone I think, it’s comfortable (laughs) but I think it’s nice to see and explore a bit more than
at least, that’s within me - than just having every day go by, which is fine but nothing more
than fine.” - Mick, 39
“It's

about myself getting more open and opening myself to the world and getting out of my
comfort zone more easy. Yeah. I'm really excited that I already improved - although I'm here
for less than three weeks so I really see progress in myself.” - Migeal, 24
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ It's a little bit what I think.” - Indra, 35
“No, I believe the only reason I travel is to experience as many cultures or just
experiences as possible, whether it's activities or one of the Seven Wonders of the
World, or just pushing myself out of my comfort zone and I think that that correlates
to my core profession which is being an entrepreneur. And I'm consistently out of my
comfort zone and that's kind of one of the defining characteristics of entrepreneurial
work and I feel that that fits in with - immerse myself in some brand new cultures as
well. So I believe life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” - Goa, 38

Curiosity is what led some of the participants out of their own comfort zones. And each one
of them had their own reason to. Participants show signs of searching outside the societal
structure for internal motivates. Their individual definition of the comfort zone is a factor
that pushes them from comfort zone among digital nomads. Their comfort zone is seen to be
associated to staying in one place.
6.4.3 Effects on Social and Psychological Attitude

Appreciation
The digital nomads seem much appreciative of the time they have spent rather than
previously. Rory, 36, says that merely “ten percent of the world population has a passport,
you know. When you're born in Morocco or in Kenya, there are very few chances you will get

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to travel outside the country. Like to be able to travel, this is a very simple thing - to have a
passport.” Some other participants express their reasoning behind volunteering:
I think it's made me more grateful for being - I think when you travel in places like
India - some parts of Thailand but mainly India, you get get to realise how immensely
immensely lucky you are to be from England, to be from Europe in anywhere or even
the US. It’s funny because when you meet people and tell them you’re travelling, you
don’t comprehend that basically seventy percent of the world will never get the chance
to travel. The very fact that we get the chance to travel because we live in the UK
where someone, even working as waitress could save up enough to travel is
incomprehensible in a lot of countries” - Josh, 28
“I trained hundreds of volunteers in the slum through this project it's like my biggest
passion. Like if you ask me what I want to be doing ten years from now, I totally want
to be focused on this project with disadvantaged kids, so that's a huge passion of
mine.” - Maria, 40
Although people feel gratitude, it is apparent during the journey of a digital nomad you
appreciate your hometown and the life you are able to design. The complexity of the
developing countries world creates empathy within the nomad community. Furthermore this
extends to the appreciation of people and how impactful they are as Indra, 35, says: “Animals,
travelling, other people, other cultures, just very open minded”. On a social level Rory, 36,
says: “Maybe you connect more easily with people and also attracts similar minded people.
So yeah I guess it made me a calmer person and more open.” while Westley, 36, goes on to
express: “I like to experience and see how other people live their lives. I think it’s really
compelling, there’s something really organic about it, something really intrinsically positive
to put yourself in a different perspective and kind of reflect on how you’ve lived your life and
how different things can be but how positive things can be.” Also David, 26, says: “So I
mean, everybody is from a different place and grew up differently with different parents and
different friends and different ideologies and exposed to different media. So I mean it's nice in
the perspective that I think there is no right answer and everybody's opinion is just as valid as
anybody else’s, you do learn from everybody. I think it makes you a little more flexible as far
as your thinking and attitude goes.” The nomadic lifestyle seems impactful on the individual’s
outlook on social and psychological aspects. Socially, they are more appreciative of their own
upbringings whereby shows the positive side of looking at life. The exposure to seeing how
other people lives their lives intrinsically motivates people to be more positive.

Volunteering
Volunteering has derived from appreciation through travelling in developing countries.
Volunteering forms a large part of some nomads live with the aim for to help the world in
their own way. Thor, 30, explains: “ My values are loyalty, adventure, spontaneity. I value
trying to help people and making the world a better place. I value sacrifice; sacrifice is
something that’s talked about it our community a lot. Sacrificing yourself for other people at

56
the back of society, helping those less fortunate than you, destroying greed, that kind of stuff.
I value just the people, I guess.” From this way of life it has created more of an open mind
especially to those less fortunate in the third world countries. Mark, 39, continues with his
hopes by saying: “I’d like in the next two or three years to build an orphanage in either Laos
or Myanmar, there's plenty of orphanages in Cambodia and Thailand. Whenever you’ve
volunteered in an orphanage, kids are generally quite happy you know, kids are happy no
matter where they are or what they have, they're running around playing, right? It's the future
which is the problem and potential risk to them by not having a strong family network in
terms of physical safety, mental safety and everything like that - just a security a child should
have growing up. I volunteer in an orphanage two days a week, really, really enjoy that - it's
good fun.”

Friendships
The nomads have lack of childhood friendship as the travelling prevents them from spending
time with people back home. Aaron, 41, saves money on his taxes by travelling and working
and the money is used to fly meaningful people from his hometown to his next destination; “I
know that I like being abroad, but I know that I like my core friends or I like having deeper
relationships with people. So this trip I’m using part of the tax savings to invite my friends or
pay for tickets to see and see me”. For some nomads, being away from core friends has been a
positive movement for their personal growth.

On the other hand, nomads are conjoined with like-minded people In the Digital nomad
community. Darren, 31, describes his community experience so far: “But it always takes one
visit, one stay to get to know people and of course, this is like leaving your comfort zone and
that’s the hardest step, to go to new places and make new friends. But in Bali, as I was
travelling with friends I met in Chiang Mai, it was much easier so I wasn’t inclined to make
new friends - like I wasn’t pushed or pressured. I did eventually, we extended our friendship
circle and now it’s a growing community and it’s like, ‘Hey, who’s in Chiang Mai?’ and like
two answer out of your ten friends like bam, here you are, reconnecting or just reactivating
friendships from before. Or maybe you are even so close that you kind of set the travel routes
on par - like this city, this city, this city”; friendships in the nomad world extend beyond the
normal boundaries to the workplace. As Chris, 24, describes: “And it not only fosters
relationships like in terms of friendships but also business relationships and, you know, it
helps with your freelance business as well because you’ll meet people that you’ll do projects
with and do work for going forward.” It can also be seen as a life motivator as Roe, 30,
describes: “like meeting new people invigorates my own energy - I love vibing with new
people, learning new things, hearing people’s stories - I love hearing about where they’ve

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come from, what are they focusing on, what are they doing in life - and finding that common
ground with each other. And yeah, building those friendships - it’s amazing. I love
connections, that’s truly what makes my travelling experience the best is the people I meet
and the connections I have - a hundred percent, yeah.”

Constantly searching for people that are also on the move, it is challenging for the nomad
community to create worthwhile friendships. Migeal, 24, describes his thoughts: “- I don't
want to say I'm living here, because it feels as soon as you tell people that you live - they
know, ‘Is it worth getting friends with?’ I experienced that in Bali. So now you just say,
‘Yeah, I'm staying here unlimited’, although I’ve plans to leave end of July. But I'm not sure
if I take a flight or just reschedule it.” Digital nomads find it difficult to commit to time
building a friendship if they are going to move to the next destination in a month. Aaron, 41,
whom has been a digital nomad for over 10 years now said: “So after a while you make some
ok friends but you can’t really have an depth to the relationships and that’s what you get from
being in one place a bit longer and I personally miss that. It was all fun and games the first
year and a year - it was cool and awesome. And then I did it again and I stayed longer in the
place, but this time around, I know what I want.”

Loneliness
When you become a digital nomad at 30+ there has been a pattern that people feel they are
the only ones their age conveying to such a lifestyle. Maria, 40: “I'm forty, I'm not twenty, so
I'm not from the digital generation. It's actually hard to find people who call themselves
digital nomads my age and are my age.” Nevertheless, most of the participants were 30+.
Despite nomad communities “it's actually quite lonely sometimes working and you know,
doing ten, eleven, twelve hours a day in a coffee shop by yourself can be very lonely
sometimes” says Thor, 30. Similarly Roe, 30, says: “it can be quite lonely, it’s a solo
expedition so yeah”.

Aaron, 41, has been a nomad for 10 years and explains that: “if you're not good at having
your own social network or developing skills to get one, it could be a very lonely existence”.
On the other hand Jazz, 30, validly said: “I think it can also be a really lonely life. But I think
you can also kind of feel alone when you're in one place and you have tons of people
surrounding you, so maybe that really ultimately is back to self discovery and being
comfortable with yourself.”

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Community
A community is what the co-working areas attempt to create. This is how some nomads feel
towards the nomadic community, which in some cases may have acted as a pull factor: “Part
of, loosely. very loosely. I don’t think I’m part of any strong community here. I don't feel like
I have an identity in any real - I mean I certainly don’t feel accepted by the Thais. I’m not
white, I’m not Thai, I'm not - they’re very nice but Thais can be very, very superficial as well,
I think. I don’t know if - I don’t feel strongly part of any community. I do feel - I mean, I am
part of the digital nomad community, I wouldn't say I feel integrated deep within the
community at all but I am loosely part of them, yeah. Just an affiliate, hanging on the side
(laughs).” As Darren, 31, discusses self-love is the stem of love and belonging.
“With all the travelling around and constantly being in different places it seems challenging to
establish both love and a sense of belonging. Yet the nomad community holds space, as you
meet like-minded people and form a sense of belonging to the name Digital Nomad”; as Thor,
30, expresses his sense of belonging: “sense of belonging to the whole ‘digital nomad’ name,
in the sense that I’m also a traveller who’s trying to - who didn’t enjoy life back home- and
left everything to travel.” Similarly: “You know, when you connect with like-minded people
you feel this sense of belonging” said Chris, 24. Yet on the other hand, Aaron, 41, that has
been carrying out this lifestyle for over 10 years now, says: “I feel like I belong in Puerto
Rico, I don't have that feeling elsewhere. I feel like I'm a nomad when I’m elsewhere, yeah. I
feel like I’m just travelling through”.
Both Chris, 25, and Thor, 30, have just begun this lifestyle and as the term Digital Nomad a
new phenomenon maybe it gives them a greater attachment to the name. The co-working area
provides the nomads with a sense of belonging as Chris, 25, expresses: “I love the community
aspect of co-working and Hubud it has the best”. There many aspects that contributes to the
experience of a digital nomad and that attractiveness of it as well as the effects.

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Chapter 7: Discussion
Digital nomadism is a phenomenon that has overlapping characteristics with other forms of
long-term travel. However, due to their homelessness, work schedule and indefinite length of
their journey these practices are differentiated. Despite the term homelessness described by
Kannisto, P. (2014), the results showed a common term used, namely ‘base’. The ‘base’ is

referred to as a city that the nomads return to and travel from to create a sense of belonging.
Concerning the correlations with the term ‘global nomads’ (Kannisto, P., 2014) there is a
distinct difference, which is the minimum of 3 years the journey has to last. Digital nomad
travel patterns indicate that even at the beginning of the first month of this lifestyle they are
defined as location independent nomad.
In terms of differentiating the nomadic life to backpacking, Maoz & Bekerman, (2010) said
that the push factors of backpackers take place as an episode ‘gap year’ or ‘overseas
experience’. For the nomadic life its not classed as an episode, but indefinite period of time.
The push factors are the societal structure rather than the time opening. Furthermore,
Kannisto, P. (2014) explains how commercialization diminished the backpacker’s form of
travel essentially reducing the prestige. However, digital nomads express their displeasure
towards commercialization for digital nomads. The nomadic lifestyle is glamorized depicting
a false image of the digital nomad life, which, effects their own image and relation to the
digital nomad name. On the other hand, similar aspects include the unique sense of social
identity backpacker form (Uriely, 2005). Furthermore, results found that digital nomads
create their own communities through the co-working spaces.
Relating to drifters, similarly to nomads the thought of a standard lifestyle is a distant thought
(Pearce and Lee, 2007). Dissimilarly, drifters act as an everyday tourist whereas nomads do
not. The act of tourism activities does not interest them during their time working in their
current base. Furthermore Cohen, S.A. (2011) says drifters’ push factors include escapism.
Similarly to digital nomads, escapism as a push factor correlates with some of the
participants’ reasoning for becoming a nomad. Hottola (2004) argues that a drifter is unable
to reconnect to the social norms, while the results revealed that nomads find it difficult to
stick to social norms. They are confronted with individuals that are staying indefinitely and,
which affects the depth of the relationship desired.
Migrants are defined as people permanently residing in one destination, unlike nomads that
find it optimal to change at an optimal monthly basis due to the cost advantages such as
rentals and phone contracts. As Benson (2009) describes, their push factors correspond with
nomads such as concern weather and cost of living. Although cost of living is a push factor, it

60
is not a dominant one unlike for digital nomads (Casado-Diaz 2009; Casado-Diaz et al. 2004;
Gustafson 2008 and 2009). The cost saving can be used to reinvest into their company or
even flying family members out. Similarly to digital nomads, migrants do not identify
themselves as tourist not as being on holiday despite it being a tourism destination (O’Reilly
2007).
Lifestyle preference has been provoked by technology to lead a different life such as digital
nomadism. The borders of countries are being blurred but also the work leisure time. Now
that technology has provided us with resources (Edley, P. P., Hylmo, A., & Newsom, V. A.
2004), it facilitates the work and travel movement. The outsourcing allows small companies
will less in-house facilities to focus more on their aim (Willcocks, L. P., & Lacity, M. C.
2012). This also goes for digital nomads; it helps them reduce their time spent on unskilled
work and can offload it for a cheaper price. Outsourcing provides nomads with more
possibilities.
As stated by Miceli, M. P., & Near, J. P. (1984), work-leisure balance often produces
employees to be in a dilemma. There is a strong correlation between work and life
environments, for example working conditions affect the non-work satisfaction and vice
versa. However, digital nomads design their own lifestyle and work time normally seeps into
work time leisure time. Lifestyle design of becoming location independent also involves job
design; the nomads to one that suits each individual control the hours. Nevertheless, the time
zones may affect the hours, as communication is sometimes necessary. Despite the
boundaries of the time spent at a location, they essentially find it motivation with the constant
movement and people.

Freelancer entrepreneurs are becoming an increasing necessity for companies, with young
professionals constructing business in the ‘project economy’ (Lesonsky. R, 2011). Expanding
on Lesonsky. R, (2011) statement, the results show how there are many nomads that find it
more efficient to have a virtual office as they do not believe in paying rent for an office to
bound someone to that location, concerning digital work. Furthermore there are now techno
spaces to provide individuals with a community work (Sundsted, T., Jones, D., & Bacigalupo,
T. 2009). Despite having such a group of individual in one space, loneliness is still present
among some digital nomads.

Google expressed that the values gained from such an experienced formed an individual they
would want on their team (John, M. and G. and Pascal, Z. 2013). Whether experiences may
have influence on opportunities was not measured. Nevertheless, the opportunities do
increase in different ways. Firstly, at the co-working areas, it is not only a space to create

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friendship but also business collaborations. Secondly, the creativeness, and problem-solving
skills that are gained during the nomadic lifestyle could increase the options for the digital
nomads and how they go about them.
Relating to the types of motivation, it is clear that intrinsic motivation lead the nomad
movement. They are surrounding themselves with natural stimulation, i.e. constant change of
people and places, which is proven to be critical in terms of cognitive work. They design
their lives, leading to acting on interest, which is said to provoke knowledge and skill.
Finally, the last characteristic of the intrinsic motivation that affects performance research by
Deci, E. L. et al. (1975) and Ryan, R. M et al. (2000) is interest in novelty and creativity.
Nomads crave change, constant new aspects throughout their life that stimulates them. These
environments provoke creativity, which is then associated to their job and the way it is
completed. The nomads are escaping the social demands that they were curtailed by through
society (Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. 2000) to reach the childhood characteristics.
As seen all segments interrelate to one another, lifestyle preference is influenced by the workleisure balance, which is essentially constructed by the contingency structure and the social
and psychological attitude.

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Chapter 8: Conclusion and Recommendation
8.1 Conclusion
In this paper the drivers and effects of becoming location independent were analyzed at
theoretical level. The fundamental questions served as inspiration: what are the push/pull
factors of becoming a digital nomad and what are the effects of becoming a digital nomad?
These questions allowed the opportunity to look at the drivers and the effects and
differentiating them from other forms of long-term travel. Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994)
theory was used as a platform, as the drivers for working away from the workplace form the
stem of doing so as a digital nomad.
The first section of the literature review analyzes the characteristics (drivers and effects) of
other long-term travellers. After analyzing the existing information, the nomads were
questioned to find the differentiations between other long-term travel and digital nomadism.
Moreover. The dominant drivers that were derived from Mokhtarian and Salomon (1994)
theory were contingency structure, lifestyle preference, and social and psychological attitude.
For all segments, the push/pull factors were used as a tool to identify the drivers and
characteristics of a digital nomad. Furthermore, the effects of each section were explored and
discussed.
Digital nomads’ travel patterns vary from one month to indefinitely. They find that one month
is most convenient due to the rent and phone contracts. While travelling they find it difficult
to differentiate their work time and their leisure time. The intertwining of the two aspects
leads to a burnout combination. This means that a burnout is caused not only by work but by
the stress of travelling too. Furthermore, The nomads value freedom at most, which is one of
the main drivers. Despite this they are still bound by legal elements such as visas. There is a
constraint to the amount of time an individual is allowed to stay in a country despite their
desires.
During the research, a catalyst of the lifestyle preference was identified as being “The FourHour Work Week” by Tim Ferris. He described the possibilities of becoming nomadic and
how to execute them, it was described as the bible for some digital nomads. The nomads
describe their own lifestyle design and that they have control the amount of hours they work.
In terms of contingency structure, it is evident that technology has stimulated the drive for
digital nomads offering them tools to facilitate the alternative style of life. Essentially, allow
people to control their travel and work behavior by making them more informed and at any
time needed. Outsourcing has also begun to arise thanks to technology making it easier to

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Digital Nomads

outsource work that cannot be done in-house. The effects of such a lifestyle can also be
challenging when dealing with communication. The time zones of the different countries
restrict nomads to connect with desired business partners or even family member.
Concerning the social and psychological aspects, the name ‘digital nomadism’ has created a
sort of community. Despite some nomads disassociating themselves from the name they
endure the nomadic lifestyle by working form co-working areas, third spaces and attend meetups. The techno spaces provide nomads with both friendship and business opportunities.
Furthermore, the depth of the friendships is affected due to the short time span of the nomads
staying in one place. Which can sometimes lead to loneliness.
I want to stress that despite this is a growing trend, it is a lifestyle that is not suitable for every
individual. The sacrifices (such as family bonds) make it difficult to pursue. Nevertheless, in
some cases the drivers are strong enough to endure the digital nomadic lifestyle for either a
certain period of time or indefinitely. In sum, digital nomads are almost complete master of
their lives, only bound by legal obligations such as visas and in some cases taxes from their
home countries. They are capable of utilizing the environment to stimulate their creativity and
problem solving skills. The re-negotiation of obligations ultimately (but not necessarily)
expands their resources and individual efficiency.

8.2 Recommendations
8.2.1 For Digital Nomads
As mentioned in the literature review, one downfall to living the digital nomadic lifestyle is
the lack of home. And as found in the results nomads refer to a place they are staying as their
‘base’. The feeling of loneliness can be addressed by returning to the same base, using the
same services that you had previously. The retail owners will be appreciative and the
connection has already been formed previously making it feel relatable.
I advise to separate work and leisure, even if you are an introvert, there are co-working spaces
where no one socializes and other nomads are simply there to work. Despite the disapproval
of the societal routine, an individual routine creates basic structure and helps with disciplinary
some nomads face, such as Josh, 28. Also set a structure, so that there are specific periods of
time where you are going to free yourself from devices and work.
8.2.2 For Employees
As stated in the conclusion, this lifestyle is not for everyone; nevertheless if one wants to try
it periodically it is also possible. As Tim Ferris titles: ‘don’t let money own your time’, is the
time you are putting into your work rewarding enough. If you are lacking in confidence, reach

64
out to the nomad communities and they will inform you with the realism of Digital
nomadism.
Secondly, to play it safe, either ask your employer if it’s possible to work remotely as Chris,
30, did or start freelancing on Upwork.com or freelancer.com like Hidi, 25; Dan, 24, and
Josh, 28, did.
Thirdly, carry out a one-month trial, similarly to Michael, 24, and see if the lifestyle resonates
with you. As Mami, 29, states: do not sacrifice your private life for money you will not be
able to spend.

8.2.3 For Companies
These recommendations are for the companies that work digitally such as: marketing,
software development, graphic design etc. The success has been seen in companies such as
Buffer, as mentioned by the participants; however there are several more.
Outsourcing
Research shows that there are many advantages to outsourcing. Outsourcing can be related to
people in developing countries or even westerner around the world. Research has outlined the
characteristics of some of the people that work in the field. The reasoning as to why
outsourcing is substantially cheaper is thanks to the environment the individuals live in. The
cost of living is usually considerably lower, therefore, so is the cost of the job. Other than
being cost efficient with the labor, the infrastructure and technology costs will be saved on as
well. And according to the participants and research, participants will be more stimulated
leading to more creativity and innovation. Furthermore, it creates flexibility where the
internal integration is dispersed (Schilling, M. A., & Steensma, H. K, 2001). This upcoming
business source can give companies a competitive edge, which is relevant as the outsourcing
market is growing 4.8% annually (Oshri, I., Kotlarsky, J., & Willcocks, L. P., 2015).
Remote workforce
The benefits of going ‘remote’ outweigh the downfalls by far. Firstly, the overhead costs are
saved upon; a physical building and the electric costs do not need maintaining therefore
money can be re-entered into the company. Secondly, converting employees into freelancers
allows them to be location independent and would decrease employee’s healthcare costs. The
employees can be managed with online programs as they update their work process. The time
spent working can also be managed with an online platform. As seen in the literature and the
results section, the efficiency of an individual when given freedom increases. Smart
companies have adapted, like Buffer, as they adopted the freedom of time as long as the work
is done. Secondly, the pool of talent is much greater, rather than being restricted by the

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knowledge of people in the location where the company is situated, it expands to the whole
world.
Thirdly, the staff that you have invested in through training may realize the potential they are
not reaching and strive for time with another company or as a freelancer. John, 24, urges
companies “to diversify the workforce, there’s too much to lose” and Westley, 36,
“companies need to understand the mind set of the new workforce”. If digital companies want
to advance or even be competitive, my recommendation is to convert to remote workforce.
Travel Industry
As the nomad industry grows this opens up opportunities for the tourism industry. As
participants mention, the money that is saved is dedicated to other priorities. The combination
of their loneliness, sacrificing family bonds, and an increase in efficiency could lead to a
marketing ploy. For example, airlines could exploit this and use the emotional attachment to
their family as a method to attract digital nomads and their families to fly.
Using digital nomads as a ploy to attract them to the capital nomadic cities will be a
marketing success in many ways. It will increase the awareness of the lifestyle, which could
lead to an increase in customers. Airlines could even create a special loyal flyers deal for
digital nomads.

8.2.4 For Start-ups
As this is a new phenomenon there are many different business opportunities arising to
convey to the Digital Nomad movement. I asked participants what they were missing as
digital nomads, the most common answer were nomad packages. Digital Nomads are
constantly on the move and it is energy consuming. The packages need to include
accommodation, preferably with other digital nomads for fast friends, community, good
workspaces and events.
In terms of co-working areas, nomads are lonely, constantly looking for friends and so far the
co-working areas do not facilitate this in Chiang Mai. A Start-up idea would be to create a
community co-working space that simplifies the process of making friends such as creating
events or hangouts. Westley, 36: “co-working spaces could be much more than what they are
today. Could be a place that motivates people to work together, to form teams, to develop
ideas; so it could be a community more than a workplace. Some co-workings are doing it
better”. On the business side of the co-working spaces there are many business opportunities
with the people there, but are missing due to lack of knowledge on other. By creating a board
or a site of jobs that individuals work as within the office, it can lead to more collaboration
for the nomads. The social side of the co-working areas can be addressed by creating a

66
platform where digital nomads can check into the city. This will give them an idea of who is
in the city.
As nomads are constantly moving, there is a gap to create a co-working pass for as many
destinations as possible to be able to access as many co-working offices possible. Nomads
like variation and currently, a pass to one co-working area denies access to another. If there
are several co-working areas in the city that all have different vibes there is a gap in the
market to create one pass for all. Furthermore, the pass should give access to other coworking areas, not only in their current city but other popular nomad destination. This could
be relevant for the tourism industry as it could control the destination nomads travel to by
facilitating their lives.
Outsourcing is beneficial for both employee and employer, yet there are limited financial
platforms to carry out transactions safely. The platform should offer a method where both the
employer and employee can agree upon a price and a guaranteed financial method for the
payment. Currently, there is an issue with the release of the money, where the employer has
the control to not pay the freelancer if they do not want to. Nevertheless, there should be an
intermediary, or the platform itself should either analyze the situation to then return the
money to the employer or release it to the employee. This will make both freelancing and
outsourcing reduce their own risks.
8.2.5 Future research
Digital nomads are a phenomenon, yet it is not a knowledgeable term especially among the
baby boomers. There are very knowledgeable baby boomers that would excel in this new
method of working. The more leisure/less work lifestyle would still be possible to attain for
the soon-to-be retired generation. Future research could find the job possibilities for the
nomads. Following this, a platform for older generations to become nomadic should be
created. This will allow retirees to control their own hours. They have the time, resources and
most likely drive to share their knowledge. This could also improve their way of life by
giving them a purpose.
Lastly, I recommend research on how digital nomadism is going to affect the nations. In
Thailand the participants pointed out that the money the nomads are introducing into the
country economy is increasing annually. Nevertheless, this is affecting the locals, the
government and the nation as a whole. Currently, Thailand is attempting to change the image
from sex tourism to a working capital for digital nomadism.

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Digital Nomads

73

Appendix I
For confidentiality reasons fake names were used.

Name

Sex

Age

Nationality

Time as a digital
nomad

Job

1

Thor

M

30

English

7 months

Freelance
• FBA- fulfilment by amazon

2

Rory

M

36

Belgium

6 years ago

Freelancer
• videographer
• non profit organization in beligium

3

May

F

29

Japanese

4

Westley

M

36

American

6 months

5

Indra

F

35

Dutch

1 month

6

Mick

M

39

Dutch

1 month

7

Darren

F

31

German

8

Josh

M

28

Brittish

1 year and 6
months

Freelancer
• Graphic design

9

Jazz

F

30

5 months

Freelance
• Fashion blogger

10

Chris

M

24

Half
Pakistani
and half
RussianPolish
Australian

2 ½ months

Freelancer
• Blogger

11

Goa

M

37

American

10 years

Company owner
• Tech

Freelancer
• translate patent written in English
into Japanese
• belong to a patent office
• worked from home before
Owner
• runs a website design company
Owner
• runs a recruitment company in africa
Freelancer
• questionnaire maker
• helps run the recruitment company
Freelancer
• coaching graduates

74
12

Roe

F

30

Australian

1 ¾ months

Company Owner
• Woman Health coaching

13

Migeal

M

24

German

3 months

Company owner
• Sells revision books online

14

Aaron

M

41

Puerto Rico

15 years

Employee
• Software developer

15

Maria

F

40

Brazilian

2 years and 9
months

Company owner
• Career coaching
• Language school

16

Mark

M

39

Irish

5 years and 6
months

Company owner
• Lab coats
• Graphic designer

17

Walt

M

33

Canadian

10 months

Company owner
• Writer
• Mens health blogger

18

Ian

M

36

Spanish

4 years and 6
months

Freelancer- technically employed
• Translator

19

Cory

M

29

Australian

1 year and 6
months

Company owner
• Web design and development

20

David

M

26

American

4 months ago

Company owner

marketing

21

Hidi

F

25

Colombian

1 year

22

Dan

M

24

Colombia

1 year

Freelancer
• creating databases

analysing databases mostly
• other
Freelancer

marketing

75

Digital Nomads