Digital Nomadism. How the era of Digitalisation changes work environment

Essay, 2018

25 Seiten, Note: 1,0



Index of figures

List of abbreviations

1.1 Problem and objective target
1.2 Approach and structure of this paper

2. Clarifications and definition of terms
2.1 Teleworking and Home Office
2.2 Coworking

3. Origin and concept of Digital Nomadism
2.1 Working methods and professional groups
2.2 Development of Digital Nomadism

4. Opportunities and challenges for Digital Nomadism

5. New requirements for employees and the self-employed: Digital know-how as a key qualification

6. Future strategies for traditional companies

7. Conclusion and further research requirements


Internet sources

Index of figures

Figure 1: Work flow diagram

Figure 2: Number of companies whose employees work from home

Figure 3: The five values of coworking

Figure 4: Prediction of the development of soft skills

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Digitalisation has been leading to fundamental changes in the business world. It modifies the way companies think and act, so managers must recognize change and adapt traditional structures. A globally networked world also offers employees alternatives to existing structures. Numerous new lifestyles and working styles are developing from this, such as digital nomadism.

It is becoming easier and easier for people who want to live and work from any lo­cation. Progress makes it increasingly possible to handle many tasks flexibly from home or on the road.

This paper deals with the changed situation of traditional workplaces, flexible living and working models such as the digital nomadism and shows how digitalisation is fundamentally changing the world of work, especially the flexibility of the workplace. It will explain what will be demanded of traditional employees and digital nomads in the future, which opportunities and risks will arise, and which adjustments tradi­tional companies will have to make.

For example, the demands on employees, especially their soft skills, will change fundamentally in the coming years. Intercultural competencies and analytical skills will gain in importance. Also digital nomads have to face challenges, which are si­milar to traditional self-employed and freelancers. Companies must continue to monitor future change and prepare their employees for future requirements. Re­cruitment processes in human resources departments will also change in the fu­ture, because recruiting based on specialist knowledge alone will no longer be suffi-cient.

In the foreseeable future, digital nomads will be interesting for companies as a rele­vant target group in two respects. On the one hand as freelancers and employees with unconventional ideas and methods, on the other hand as a customer group for (digital) products and services. The new lifestyles are also creating numerous new business fields for traditional professions that can focus on this niche, such as la­yers, insurance companies and tax consultants.

1. Introduction

If you enter the term Digital Nomad in Google, almost 830,000 hits appear in a frac­tion of a second. Numerous weblogs give you insights into the life of Modern Nomads or instructions on how to become one. More and more people define themselves as Digital Nomads - people who perform their work on the basis of digital technologies regardless of their location.

Five years ago, two economists from the University of Oxford concluded in their study “The future of employment”1 that almost one in two Americans works in a profession whose activities are expected to be automated within the next two decades. The World Economic Forum, which took place in Davos in January 2018, gave similar figures for Germany. Therefore, we are at the beginning of a fourth industrial revolu­tion that will fundamentally change the way human labour is organised. New jobs will be created that will completely or partially displace others. The qualifications and skill requirements needed in both old and new occupations will also change in most sec­tors.2

The population agrees on this perspective. A study by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research proves that one in three citizens believes that our working world will change noticeably by the year 2030, as a result of increasing digitalisation. The respondents think that work is becoming increasingly mobile: more than 58 per­cent expect that the majority of the working population will carry out their jobs from home or elsewhere in 2030.3 Looking back in history, it is noticeable that even before industrialisation, the place of residence and work were close. This changed already during the industrialisation: the number of commuters increased significantly due to the strict spatial separation of the living and the working area.4

In the current post-industrial era, the areas of work and living are increasingly mer­ging again. Many social developments and demographic change, such as the care for family members, also contribute to the growing attractiveness of freedom of choice regarding the work place. According to the Federal Employment Agency, the term Teleworking combines various forms of work in which at least a part of the work is outsourced from the company. An enhancement of this is Digital or Modern No­madism, in which people work multilocally from home, in an office, in specially equipped coworking spaces or on the road in so-called transit areas, for example an airport. These modern working concepts are particularly adopted by Generation Y and the following Generation Z5, which are currently entering working life and have been shaped by the digital lifestyle. In contrast, long outdated work paradigms, which are still practiced in many companies today, are met with resistance.

One thing is certain: digitalisation is changing the business world. This situation leads to a comprehensive field of expertise, which is one of the reasons for the fundamental change that the world of work in Germany and worldwide has been experiencing for several years. This paper deals with the changed situation of traditional workplaces and flexible living and working models such as the Digital Nomadism and aims to show how digitalisation is fundamentally changing the working world, especially the flexibility of the workplace.

1.1 Problem and objective target

Due to the dynamics of the Web 2.06, opportunities in the world of work are constantly growing, new jobs or new forms of work are created. This raises three questions regarding the further development of this new form of work:

- Which opportunities and risks will the changed working environment present for Digital Nomads?
- Which strategic adjustments do traditional companies have to make and which opportunities will arise?
- How are the demands on traditional employees and digital natives changing?

Despite the very recent phenomenon of flexible working forms, there is already suf­ficient literature on the impact of the digital revolution on the business world. In rela­tion to the problems mentioned at the outset, there are currently no complete an­swers in academic literature that would shed light on the effects of location­ independent work, as well as on the adaptations for traditional companies and em­ployees, the self-employed and Digital Nomads. The central object of this work is to eliminate this research gap.

1.2 Approach and structure of this paper

The work is divided into a theoretical part and a practical part. In the theoretical part, the terms that provide the fundamental basis of the work are explained and delimited and the concept and development of Digital Nomadism is presented. In a further step, the possibilities for the practice of location-independent work are examined. In the practical part, the advantages and disadvantages of Digital Nomadism, opportu­nities and challenges are presented and, building on these, possible recommenda­tions for action and possible future strategies for employees, the self-employed and traditional companies are derived. Subsequently, a conclusion will be drawn and an outlook will be given on possible further research fields which could be the subject of other scientific papers. Primarily digital publications of literature and statistics were used for research on this new form of work, which is characterized by rapid change and transformation. In order to build the work on current research results, mainly sources published in the last four years were used.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

2. Clarifications and definition of terms

The theoretical basis for further analysis is laid out below. It is important to note that the following terms relating to alternative forms of work will not be discussed in more detail in the remainder of this paper. There are merely a delineation of the term Digital Nomadism, in order to avoid misunderstandings due to differentiation problems on the part of the reader. It is important to note that in this work the terms (Neo-) No­mads, Digital Natives or Internet Nomads are used to denote Digital Nomads.

2.1 Teleworking and Home Office

Computer manufacturers, software developers and telecommunication providers are seen as pioneers of telework, mainly driven by high office rents or the shortage of workplaces in rural areas. The term telework is characterized by the multitude of forms, models and characteristics, which makes an exact definition difficult. In 2001, the BMBF defined telework as follows: “Telework is any activity based on information and communication technology that is carried out exclusively or temporarily at a workplace outside the central operating site. This workstation is connected to the central facility by electronic means of communication.”7 Various forms of telework are mentioned in the literature, the most important forms of organisation are ex­plained in the following: telework, alternating telework and mobile telework.

- In home-based telework, the employee carries out all work from home. A workplace in the company's premises does not exist, the workplace is perma­nently in the private area of the employee. This is the most extreme form of decentralized organisation.
- The predominant model is alternating telework: work takes place alternately at home and at the company. The company provides several people with a workstation for their work, which they use at mutually agreed upon times.
- Mobile telework is mainly practised by representatives, account managers and similar professional groups. The focus is on activities at changing places of work (e.g. in the customer's apartment).8

Another form of organisation is work in telecentres or televillages, which was devel­oped mainly in Switzerland between 1989 and 1995 by the major Swiss bank (for­merly SKA). The latter is also known for the project “Bruck an der Leitung” in Bruck an der Leitha (Austria), which investigated the general conditions and prerequisites for setting up a teleworking centre within the framework of a planned housing estate. These telecentres are often located near residential areas; the enhancement to this are so-called televillages., housing estates in which numerous teleworking jobs are concentrated.9

In this context, a conceptual distinction must be made from the term home office, which describes occasional work at a workplace which is not the employer's build­ing. There is also a clear distinction from teleworking on the part of the legislator, in which stricter expectations are placed on the ergonomic design of the workplace, which were expressly stipulated by the Workplace Ordinance with the definition of the teleworking workplace.10 In November 2016, the term teleworking was legally defined for the first time in Germany. The ArbStättV states in this respect: “Tele workstations are DSE workstations installed permanently by the employer in the workers' private sphere, for which the employer has stipulated weekly working hours - agreed with the worker - and the duration of the installation. A tele work­station is not set up by the employer until the employer and the worker have stipu­lated the conditions for teleworking in a contract of employment or in the framework of an agreement and the necessary fitting out of the workstation with furniture, work tools including communications equipment has been provided and installed in the worker's private sphere by the employer or a person commissioned by him.”11 (Sec­tion 2 (7) ArbStättV (Arbeitsstättenverordnung) (abbreviated to Section 2 VII ArbStättV)

According to this expression, the main difference lies in the ergonomic requirements of the workplace, which should meet health and safety standards and is set up by the employer.

A survey conducted by Bitkom Research on behalf of the digital association Bitkom came to the conclusion that home offices are becoming increasingly popular among companies. 39 percent said that all or part of their employees are working from home, an increase of 9 percent compared to 2016 and an increase of 19 percent since 2014.12

Figure 2: Number of companies whose employees work from home

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Own presentation

The term “Remote Work” can be regarded as synonymous with telework, sometimes taking on the features of Digital Nomadism through individual agreements between employer and employee. This is for example the case if work is permitted from other locations than the home workplace.

2.2 Coworking

Coworking is a new phenomenon of workplace organisation that has emerged from the trend towards flexibility. The term has rarely appeared in contemporary scientific literature, so the main sources for data and figures are the surveys conducted by Deskmag13 and publications of the Coworking Wiki14, which was founded by cowor­king pioneers Christian Messina and Tara Hunt in 2006 as a collaborative project.

For example, the Coworking Wiki defines the coworkers who work in so called coworking spaces, as “independent professionals which work better together than they do alone. Coworking spaces are about community-building and sustainability. Participants agree to uphold the values set forth by the movement's founders, as well as interact and share with one another. We are about creating better places to work and as a result, a better way to work.”15 The idea of working in an independent loca­tion is not new, because, according to this definition, coworking is very similar to the form of work organisation of the telecentre, open space offices in companies, the classic office community or business centres, which have already existed for several years. The fundamental difference to these forms lies in the intrinsic motivation, which is based on key values, such as: openness, collaboration, sustainability, com­munity and accessibility.16 They are also aimed at another target group - Digital No­mads, the self-employed or creative people, rather than “old-school” employees, as is the case with traditional forms. Characteristically, the users, so-called co-workers, constantly change, while a fixed and permanent user group forms the basis for an office community.17

Based on these insights, Stefanie Döring's diploma thesis provides a more appropri­ate explanation: “Coworking is currently a form of work primarily used by freelancers, in which employees with a wide variety of tasks work together in one place, regard­less of their current employer. There is no fixed circle of users, which enables a wide variety of social relationships. Additional intangible services, such as the possibility of knowledge transfer, informal exchange, collaboration and interaction with others, are often more important to users than simply providing a desk for flexible working”.18


1 Frey, C.B., Osborn, M.A., The Future of Employment, 2013, p.5.

2 Cf., Accessed on 02/06/2018.

3 Cf. 3949.html, Accessed on 02/06/2018.

4 Cf Luks, T., Der Betrieb als Ort der Moderne, 2014, p.81.

5 Its members were born from about 1995 to 2010 and were growing up with the digital media. They represent an enhancement to Generation Y, which were digitally socialized in early adolescence and therefore represented the pioneer generation.

6 Detailed explanations of the origin of the term Web 2.0 in: C/O, Fast Forward 2010 - The Fate of IT, 2004, p. 90. Source: Own presentation

7 See BMBF, Umfrage, 2001, p.10.

8 Cf. Kamp, L., Telearbeit, 2000 p.13 et seqq.

9 Cf., Accessed on 04/06/2018; Jäckel, M., Rövekamp, C., Alter­nierende Telearbeit, 2001, p.37 et seqq.

10 Cf. pdf-data.pdf, Accessed on 04/06/2018.

11 blob=publicationFile&v=2, Accessed on 21/07/2018.

12 Cf., Accessed on 03/06/2018; mation/Jedes-dritte-Untershynehmen-bietet-Arbeit-im-Homeshyoffice-an.html, Accessed on 08/07/2018;

13 Online magazine that informs and reports about coworking., Accessed on 04/06/2018.

14 Online magazine that informs and reports about coworking, Ac­cessed on 04/06/2018.

15 Cf., Accessed on 05/06/2018.

16 Cf., Accessed on 05/06/2018; Accessed on 08/07/2018;

17 Cf. Schürmann, M., Coworking Space, 2013, p. 35 et seqq.

18 Cf. Döring, P., Coworking, 2010, p. 20.

Ende der Leseprobe aus 25 Seiten


Digital Nomadism. How the era of Digitalisation changes work environment
FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management gemeinnützige GmbH, München früher Fachhochschule
Business Communication Skills
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
Digitale Nomaden, digital nomads, homeoffice, remote work, remote, telearbeit
Arbeit zitieren
Lisa-Marie Wagner (Autor:in), 2018, Digital Nomadism. How the era of Digitalisation changes work environment, München, GRIN Verlag,


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