The people of Urban Station in Buenos Aires asked me to write a column for their blog. It ended up being a text on the future of work, digital nomadism and free agents.
Most people want to be rich. Not so much because of the money, but because of the freedom it brings along. We’d like to be able to work where and when we’d like. To travel to far away places, to count experiences instead of paychecks, to live rich & create boldly.
Ask me about my perfect job and I’ll tell you about a cool office, not too far from where I live, choosing my own hours & my own work. No traffic jams. No fixed office hours. No white space cubicles. One month I’d be working in Buenos Aires, the other near a beach in Cape Town, yet another in my hometown Ghent. But one thing will always stay the same: along the way I’ll be connecting with creative & innovative peers all around this globe.
The concept of work is changing.
With the advent of the paperless office & high speed internet, information is accessible wherever we are. So, we could be working virtually everywhere. True, some amongst us will still need a big desk with a lot of paper. But they arelast men standing – information management is reaching new highs every day, and so are the number of digital natives.
True again, some critics will remind us of the past failures of teleworking. People don’t want to be locked up inside their homes, lacking all social contact. We don’t want to stay at home every day, just as little as we like to be stuck in traffic jam morning and evening. Not so much fun in that. But today, we’re no longer talking about teleworking. Teleworking is dead. Long live digital nomads.
Digital Nomads don’t think in terms of work/home. They are free agents in charge of their own time and – even more importantly – master of their own life. They like to create their own network freely, hop from place to place. All they need is a laptop, a cool place to hang out, brilliant people to meet. As much as they live hyperglobal – one day they’ll be living in Argentina, the other in Thailand -, they are characterized by an profound sense of hyperlocalness. Living, working & networking takes place just around the corner. Why spend an hour long in traffic jams to go to work if you can work in a cool office in your own neighborhood? Why eat vegetables from the other side of the world, if we can buy delicious stuff via your local urban farming community? Not only is it more fun, it is an interesting alternative in an ecologically ill world.
In each case, in the future we’ll navigate in between our urban stations.
And the good part of it? The future is now.