*SPONSORED POST* By Denise Doran, Co-Founder, Swapoffi
The latest trends in remote work confirm that it is really here to stay. It’s not just a post-Covid fad.
I am a co-founder of Swapoffi, a free to join home exchange community for remote workers.
We were recently selected to participate in a leading Pre-Accelerator programme in Dublin. So I have been immersed in all things remote work, to explain to other participant companies, mentors, advisors and a pitching audience, why remote work is the single most significant change to society – not just work – since the second world war.
What does remote work in 2023 look like for all of us who are location-independent ? And those who would like to be location-independent ?
Did you know, that if the global digital nomad community were a country, it would rank #41 by population size with 35m people, just after Canada and Morocco?
Employed Remote Workers
If you work for someone else, the signs are very positive for continued remote work, and remote work becoming the norm.
At the time of writing (August 3rd) unions in Australia are “setting a precedent by taking the country’s biggest bank to court and wrangling with the federal government to demand work from home to become the norm”.
Leading management consultants such as McKinsey are all trying to define “the Future of Work”. They say that in the past “companies brought people to work, say, in massive factories or industrial centres, technological advances in recent decades may be influencing a shift that takes work to the people, for instance, in more flexible long-term remote or hybrid models.”
Luckily, most employers recognise that people are an organisation’s most valuable asset, and the key is flexibility to retain employees.
Solopreneurs and Freelancers go Remote too
If you are a digital nomad working for yourself, again there is more good news. From just one country – Estonia – back in 2020, more countries join the competition every month to attract you and your spending power, through Digital Nomad Visas.
Some have certain conditions, but many welcome remote workers without requiring proof of earning more than $1,500 per month, such as Bermuda, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Curacao, Ecuador or Mauritius.
The new Spanish Digital Nomad Visa for non-Eu Citizens was approved by Parliament last November and announced at the end of January. Spain ranks in our top three destinations for home swappers, thanks to the weather and lower cost of living. You might be surprised to know that it doesn’t even feature in the Top Ten Digital Nomad Destinations, which are : Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, Vietnam, Portugal and Turkey, according to ABrotherAbroad.com.
What about Hybrid Work?
“Hybrid is no longer just an employee perk but an employee expectation”, said the Gartner Group just a couple of months ago. They also predict that 39% of global knowledge workers will work hybrid by the end of this year.
Their definition of a hybrid worker is someone who works one day per week in the office. That still gives you a minimum of 6 days to work from somewhere else. How will you choose to use this opportunity ?
One of the post Covid changes is that most of us home workers became sick of our own four walls, so the ability to work from anywhere is so welcome.
In our experience, flights are not the challenge for remote workers in terms of cost and availability, accommodation is.
Where will YOU go?
Whilst geo-arbitrage influences many remote workers decisions about where to go, weather, culture and language feature heavily too.
Consider what do you want to get out of your remote working opportunity…
- A cultural experience? 🎨
- To stash as much cash as possible through living in lower cost countries and earning a higher salary? 💰
- To make friends? 👯♀️
- To learn a language? 🗣️
- Or simply to have an adventure, and see the world 🌍
We are all different. Try to clarify your goals, as it will make other related decisions easier.
Connection is Everything!
We conducted in-depth interviews with digital nomads across Europe when first exploring our business idea. We wanted to know what was important to them when remote working and travelling. A key finding from everyone we spoke to is that reliable Wi-Fi dicates remote work. No Wi-Fi, no work!
It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to assume that Wi-Fi is as reliable or readily available everywhere nowadays. And that is not the case. (That led us to making it mandatory to see the internet bill for a property before we will accept it in our community).
A Warm Welcome?
Some cities, such as Venice, go out of their way to embrace remote workers. Venywhere whose “mission is to become the glue between remote workers and the city of Venice, offering the best experience possible in a totally sustainable way and in line with the Venetian ecosystem”.
Note : Keep an ear out for the ‘Work from Anywhere Festival’ in Venice next year (sorry, you already missed this year’s one). Registration for this 3-day event cost only €30 including lunch, and included talks and networking as well as a culture evening. (It’s in our calendar for next year, see you there!)
Other cities, such as Lisbon and Barcelona, have become so popular for remote workers and digital nomads, that local property prices are adversely affected, putting pressure on local people who live there year-round.
Wherever you decide to go, I believe that each of us has a personal responsibility to be positive brand ambassadors, paving the way for future remote workers. We are the first generation to live like this, and how lucky we are to have this opportunity!
Some digital nomad locations are well trodden. It can be easy to meet your fellow remote workers in co-living spaces, co-working spaces and meet-ups. But how do you meet locals ?
Consider getting involved in your local community, volunteer (even one day at a local pet shelter would make all the difference – I brought a dog home from Madeira that no-one wanted, so this one is close to my heart. It was all within the EU so was manageable). Offer language lessons or conversations in your local language. If possible, bring stationery for local schools. Offer language lessons or conversations in your native language.
Spending locally helps local economies too, especially in local neighbourhoods more so than tourist centres.
But where will you do the work?
Thankfully, times have moved on from lingering over a cappuccino for hours in a café to use their Wi-Fi. Co-working spaces are popping up everywhere and are particularly suitable for those new to travelling.
Experienced remote workers tell us they often prefer to save on co-working fees and add that money to their rent, so they live in a nicer place when they travel, or just simply spend it on anything else.
There is another option which eliminates the cost of accommodation AND the cost of renting a workspace and that is to pay nothing! If you join our home swap community, enjoy free and unlimited accommodation with no commitment or catch. And every home is verified for a workspace and Wi-Fi.
Perhaps a blend of all those options might work for you, depending on your budget, energy and desire to socialise ?
What kind of traveller will YOU be?
With sustainable travel and climate change hot topics today (unintended pun), we are all thinking about our impact on where and how we travel.
Swapoffi offers a sustainable approach to travelling as we use existing resources, i.e. members homes. We do not feed into the demand for tourist specific accommodation, and, as no money is involved, we are not driving up rents and property prices, which often results in putting them out of reach of local people. We prefer to swap accommodation rather than pay for it.
Swapoffi is the world’s first home swap community for remote workers. We set it up as we want to travel more, without the cost. Swapoffi doesn’t just reduce but it eliminates the three biggest problems facing remote workers :
- The cost of accommodation : this can influence not only where remote workers traveller and for how long, but if they travel at all. Also don’t assume that accommodation is always available. Check out any remote working or digital nomad group on facebook now and you will see most are pleas for accommodation. Hopefully this will reduce over Summer.
- Reliable wi-fi : This one is simple. No wi-fi, no work! Wifi is a non-negotiable element of being a remote worker. Whether you are self employed or your own boss, you won’t go far without robust and reliable wifi. That is why we require all of our members to supply an internet bill in their application to join our community. If you don’t have one, you can’t join Swapoffi.
- A workspace – we require photographic evidence of the workspace in your home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a corner of a room, or a standalone home office, its got to be a step up from a kitchen table and chair. We take our travel seriously and we also take our work seriously. Several of our members have two workspaces. Many have superfast wifi too. Use our advanced search and filter to find a home office that matches your specific work needs.
All homes are welcome in our community. We have simple studios and luxury villas with a swimming pool. As long as you have a workspace and wifi, you are welcome. The more homes we have, the more destinations we can all travel to, for free!
We don’t just connect people and homes, our 4 step verification process authenticates you and your home, as well as your wifi and workspace. It takes a little effort from you, and from us to manually check everything, but we think its worth it!