GUEST POST BY: Leif Hallberg
Sitting in my PJs drinking a cup of tea while writing this article, and soaking up the big Montana sky, I am struck with a sense of gratitude. I am part of a very fortunate group of people who can call themselves digital nomads. Our digital world and the ever increasing need for digital marketing is creating a new way to work. There is a workforce of people unique to our time who function outside the four walls of a traditional office, who work whenever and wherever they please, seeking the next adventure, and feeding their restive souls.
Being a digital nomad isn’t just good for the soul, it’s also good for the body, the mind, and the world-wide economy.
The Benefits of a Being a Digital Nomad
While Colibri Digital Marketing is a San Francisco digital marketing agency, the company is a virtual office, with team members scattered throughout the world. As a certified B Corp, Colibri Digital Marketing embraces a progressive work environment that benefits the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Supporting team members who want to live in the world of digital nomads is just one of the forward-thinking methods Colibri Digital Marketing employs. The old way of managing a company required workers to be on an in-office Monday to Friday, 9-5 schedule, but the benefits of having a virtual office and allowing members to have flexible schedules has numerous benefits.
As we know, stress is a killer, and both the American Institute of Stress and the American Psychological Association agree that job pressure is the number one cause of stress in the United States. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job and 30% report they are “always” or “often” under stress at work. 35% of Americans report that their jobs interfere with personal and family time and 50% state stress causes them to fight with the people closest to them.
Stress causes a dizzying array of physical and psychological symptoms. 77% of Americans report feeling the physical effects of stress which include fatigue, headaches, upset stomachs, muscle tension, changes in appetite, teeth grinding, and a loss of sex drive. 73% report experiencing psychological symptoms which include irritability or anger, feeling nervous, a lack of energy, or feeling like they might cry. Stress is inextricably linked to heart disease, cancer, hypertension, and depression. Stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40% and stroke by 50% and costs the nation over $300 billion in health expenses and lost productivity.
People are asked to work longer and longer hours, spending an average of 6+ extra hours per week at their place of work. These hours represent lost opportunities to relax and restore, spend time with loved ones, be outdoors, exercise, or pursue a hobby.
Oddly, the push for people to work longer hours is contrary to existing research which shows that people cannot really remain productive for this many hours per day. The lifestyle of a digital nomad honors the reality that humans are not machines. We were not meant to spend the vast majority of our time doing only one thing. We were built to embrace diversity, to move our bodies, to search out sustenance, to protect and take care of our families, and to explore our surroundings. Moments of intense focused attention were punctuated by time to relax and recharge.
It is no surprise that research shows taking breaks, naps, exercising, and spending time away from one’s place of work reduces stress and improves the quality of life. Being a digital nomad means you usually get to choose your own schedule. You decide how and where you work best. Are you someone who excels in the morning and can get all your work done by mid-day, leaving the rest of the day free for family time, relaxation, fun, or adventure? Or are you the late night type who enjoys a leisurely morning and gears up for work in the afternoon? Do you like working at a coffee shop, in the quiet of your own home, or while on vacation in some exotic locale? If you aren’t tied to a traditional work environment, the choices for self-care are endless. You can take a nap, jump on your mountain bike, or enjoy a relaxing stroll in nature. As a digital nomad, freedom and flexibly is more than a preference, it’s a lifesaver.
Although the health benefits of being a digital nomad are probably the most important, employers also benefit. Every company wants to recruit and retain high performance workers. These are the brightest and the best, self-directed, charismatic people who are quick to understand new concepts, take initiative, come up with creative solutions, and effectively meet deadlines while achieving the desired goal. But, these folks are also known to be quirky and difficult to manage, questioning the status quo and valuing freedom and flexibility above all else. Sound familiar?
High performance workers are perfect candidates for the digital nomad lifestyle. According to the American Society of Association Executives, high performers must be free to be creative and to stretch and grow, and they want a reason to work hard, but they do not respond to conventional incentives. Typically, they are likely to respond to incentives like increased freedom and flexibility in their work schedules, more ownership over their projects, more time off to enjoy their own hobbies, and creative, fun, and social work environments. If they are provided with these incentives, it is likely they will meet and exceed workplace expectations, increasing productivity, customer service, and innovation.
The digital nomad lifestyle offers a way for employers to slow down employee turnover, and retain a talented, hard-working, and dedicated staff.
The Adventure Factor
Finally, if you crave the unknown, if you fight conformity, and if you thrive in a free-form environment, the lifestyle of a digital nomad might just be the ticket for you! Some digital nomads roam to far-flung destinations, meeting new people, experiencing other cultures, and immersing themselves in all that life has to offer. They are in essence, citizens of the world. Others live a much calmer existence, using the freedom and flexibility of their lifestyle to actively engage in raising their children, spending time with their loved ones, nurturing their homes, and enjoying a slower and less stressful pace of life. But, all digital nomads seem to have a few factors in common:
- They seek freedom and flexibility
- They enjoy travel and adventure
- They value time and relationships
- They are self-motivated and self-directed
- They like to learn
- They are independent self-starters
Being a digital nomad is a personal choice. It’s a way of life. Those who walk the path embrace quality of life over all else, and are open to whatever adventure the journey brings.
About The Author
Leif Hallberg, M.A., LPC, LCPC is an internationally-acclaimed author, consultant, licensed mental health professional, educator, and avid lover of nature and animals. Her first book Walking the Way of the Horse: Exploring the Horse-Human Relationship was published in 2008, and her new book The Clinical Practice of Equine-Assisted Therapy: Including Horses in Human Healthcare and associated workbook The Equine-Assisted Therapy Workbook: A Learning Guide for Professionals and Students will be available from Routledge in 2017.
To learn more check out:
American Institute of Stress
American Psychological Association
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Global Organization for Stress
World Health Organization
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