Will the large workforce of digital nomads actually come?
And even among the well-paid, white, knowledge economy workers who make up the majority of teleworkers, the only people who could really Becoming digital nomads – who might live in a remote location and then come to the office once or twice a quarter – are executives, said Susan Lund, a Washington, DC, labor research partner at McKinsey & Company, who works for labor research, economic development and Remote work.
Corporations will be more willing to accommodate the mighty, high-income top executives, she says. That may depend on the situation, however – Litchfield and Woldoff say they interviewed more junior staff for their book who were surprised to receive retention offers from their supervisors than they said they would quit if they couldn’t work remotely on a long-term basis .
Digital nomadism aside, Lund says that according to McKinsey research, “60-70% of the workforce has no way” to work remotely at all. Most people “cut hair, they take care of patients, they work in a production environment that has machines or a laboratory that has specialized equipment.”
“In any case, there is a question of justice,” says Lund. “It’s mostly college-educated, clerks, clerks who can do this.”
The more realistic result
Experts say that some industries will definitely have more digital nomads among their employees after the pandemic. But they add that a major shift towards digital nomadism across the board is unlikely to happen.
A more likely outcome is that more workers could find themselves in situations where their companies implement a hybrid work schedule that at least sometimes forces them to come to the office and workers may relocate as a result of that requirement. When people want to move, Lund believes it will be just a little farther from the office, but still within a commute. “I think there is [trend of people] expand to smaller cities and rural areas – but still not: ‘I want to go to Croatia’ or ‘I want to live in Aspen’, “she says.
Even if the number of people who can live indefinitely on a Lisbon Airbnb for months after the pandemic increases, the privilege of doing so still remains for a tiny group.
Overall, Kelly said, “I would say that 100% remote work is an option for some employees and may be feasible in some industries, but it won’t become the new normal.”