Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
1.2 Objective and research questions
1.3 Thesis outline
2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.1 Towards knowledge Society
2.1.1 From analog developments to amassed digital advances
2.1.2 Shifting into the knowledge society
2.1.3 Influences of knowledge work flexibility on lifestyles
2.2 Digital nomadism : Emergence ,ideology ,and actuality
2.2.1 Extracts from previous studies
2.2.2 Digital nomad's definitions
2.2.3 Similar phenomena to digital nomadism
2.2.4 Digital nomadic ideology and actualities in practice
2.3 Digital nomad 's pinpoints : The physical existence
2.3.1 Digital nomads' innovation hubs
2.3.2 Egypt as a digital nomad's host country
3.1 Research approach : An exploratory approach
3.2 Methods and tools of data collecting
3.2.1 Online questionnaire
3.3 Data processing and analysis phase
4 EMPIRICAL DATA & RESEARCH FINDINGS
4.1 Digital nomadism journey in practice
4.2 Digital nomadism in Egypt , Dahab
4.2.1 Costs and quality of living
4.2.2 Visa obtaining and its extension
4.2.3 Professional enhancement
5.1 Summary of research findings
5.2 Limitations of the research
5.3 Future research
The employed questionnaire
Transcripts of interviews
Transcript Viola Wally
Transcript Christina Holthuis
Transcript Maya Hansen
Transcript Laura Ström
Transcript Tanja Smirnov
Transcript Rafik Fadel
In the name of Allah, the Merciful
I am forever grateful to God for the grace he bestowed upon me during my study and writing this thesis. I also extend my thanks to all scholars and people whose ideas and contributions were undoubtedly important in conducting this thesis: Digital Nomad’s Lifestyle in Dahab, Egypt- Current development on the job market. Further,
I would like to appreciate my family, relatives, and friends in Egypt for their encouragement and support. I am so thankful for my father's ethically and spiritually effective support and advice in all of my life, as he made me believe that education is the best legacy that others can pass on. I am grateful to my grandmother (may God have mercy on her) for her prayers over the years, especially since I decided to study in Germany. For my sister's support, there are no words that can be sufficient! May Allah pleasant you and your son Yousef.
Furthermore, I warmly acknowledge my first supervisor Prof. Dr. Joanna Ozga, and I am so thankful for her support during my whole study and her patience with me while writing this master’s thesis. Sincere words of appreciation go to my second supervisor Prof. Dr. Jutta Angelika Dölle. I am so thankful for her advice, care, and support during my study at Fulda university for applied sciences and her supervising for this master's thesis. Finally, my sincere appreciation to all my professors who taught me, and all my fellow students inspired me, and all digital nomads who supported and contributed to this thesis.
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
In a world where technology is increasingly intertwined with everyday life and work, the traditional profession is fading into the background, while the digital age is unleashing unlimited opportunities and changes in our working, playing, and living ways. Thus, more people adopt the digital nomad lifestyle to reach their personal and professional goals, heading to various innovation hubs worldwide, especially in Asia. Consequently, it has led to increased digital nomadism phenomenon studies; however, none of them addressed the phenomena in the Middle Eastern countries as innovation hubs. Hence, given that Egypt is one of the most capable digital nomads' host countries in the Middle East with excellent weather and fascinating history, a reasonable cost of living, and developed sharing economy sectors, especially Dahab city, it is worthy of examining the phenomenon in Dahab, Egypt and tracking its existence.
This research paper is a journey into the digital nomads' world in Dahab, Egypt, and aims to reveal their imaginations and ideologies, identify their attributes, and analyze their community's enhancement to their professional improvement. Data were gathered during a three-month field study, relying on an online survey, including a questionnaire, six interviews, and a netnography research method. The overall results indicated that digital nomads are millennials from advanced economies with varying academic backgrounds. The balance between freedom, life, and work is the primary motivation behind the adoption of digital nomadism lifestyle; however, the general job satisfaction and productivity were varied widely from digital nomad to another, depending on their experience. Additionally, Dahab's digital nomads' community plays an essential role in making Dahab a rising international innovation hub and provides digital nomads with sufficient social contact and enhances their professional improvements.
Keywords: Digital nomads in Dahab, Egypt, innovation hubs, knowledge society, virtual knowledge work, digital nomadism ideology, freedom, Work-life balance.
List of Figures
Figure 1 Explanatory repertoire model of digital nomadism ideology
Figure 2 Digital nomads cities in Egypt
Figure 3 Nationalities of digital nomads in Dahab
Figure 4 Ages and education levels of digital nomads in Dahab
Figure 5 Professions and job skills of digital nomads in Dahab
Figure 6 Challenges and issues of digital nomadism journey
Figure 7 Working hours /week of digital nomads in Dahab
Figure 8 Assessment of living costs and quality in Dahab
Figure 9 Evaluation of visa extension and its process in Dahab
Figure 10 Assessment of digital nomads 'community in Dahab
List of Tables
Table 1 Comparison of living costs between Dahab and Bali
List of Abbreviations
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This chapter contains a background of the digital nomad's lifestyle, providing a context for the study, followed by the objective and the research questions, ending with the thesis's outline.
In our era, the digital mediated information systems support work rhythms and ensure information access more than ever before, helping many workers to mobilize their work according to the spatial and temporal dimensions1 (Nelson et al., 2017, p. 14). As space and time constraints are steadily diminishing in the face of rapid communication technology developments, spatial networks are unfolding, which are both the cause and consequence of the global and transnational socio-economic model. Consequently, it has led to the emergence of globalization that increased the individuals' international mobility (Ballard, 2001, pp. 2-3; D’Andrea, 2006, pp. 97-100). That mobility is growing daily and driven by personal desires to have a new lifestyle that provides people with more freedom of choice and self-fulfillment. Moreover, it is worth noting that supporting adequate global mobility means promoting a flexible and global career model for adapting influencing roles, new ventures, and creative business opportunities (Luk, 2018, p. 1). Further, according to Deloitte (2017) report about the global workforce transformation; approximately 68 percent of organization leaders approved that a global workforce is an enabler of business and talent strategies. Accordingly, there is no wonder that the global mobile workforce increased from 1.45 billion in 2016 to 1.52 billion in 2017 (about 40 percent of the global workforce), and it is estimated to reach 1.88 billion globally mobile workers in 2023, accounting for approximately 43 percent of the global workforce (Deloitte, 2017).
Generally, the digital nomad’s lifestyle is derived from those accelerations in economic and technological advancements due to shorter product life cycles, politically driven deregulation, and global competition (Lundvall, 2016, p. 306). Additionally, differences between countries shape that innovation usage and lead to unequal conditions for adopting mobility lifestyles, which initially appeared with the emergence of the knowledge society and affected the job market with its flexibility (Ahuja and Morris Lampert, 2001, p. 532). Consequently, the flexibility of work, which is influenced by many sociopolitical dimensions, such as individualization, communication technology, and transportation systems advancement, has contributed to the mobility's rapid development, which resulted later in one of the most modern trends in lifestyle mobilities called "Digital Nomadism" (D’Andrea, 2006, pp. 97-100; O’Reilly and Benson, 2009, p. 3). The next chapter briefly concerns the emergence of that knowledge society and its development phases (see section 2.1).
Literately, in 1997, Mikimoto and Manners used the term digital nomads for the first time to describe a lifestyle that is equipped with many technological developments, like high-advanced networks and affordable mobile devices, breaking the link between work and location (Makimoto and Manners, 1997, p. 3). A few years later, Tim Ferriss resurfaced the idea with his book "The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich". Ferriss's book was focused on unbridled traveling while making money and profit from the concept of geo-arbitrage2 over countries (Elgan, 2017).
Consequently, studies on digital Nomads have risen and used the term in various ways, which led to varied definitions of the phenomenon. Nevertheless, the most emerging literature on digital nomadism focuses mainly on describing digital nomads and their lifestyle (Wang et al., 2018, p. 1). For instance, Reichenberger (2018) described them as location-independent workers, predominantly young professionals, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote employees who could combine travel and virtual knowledge work at the same time, driven by personal and professional freedom motivations (Reichenberger, 2018, pp. 369-375). Also, Formica (2013) described them in his book "Stories of Innovation for the Millennial Generation" as talented youth and pioneers of the digital age, traveling freely across borders and oceans to establish a global business, relying on their modern discoveries and applications (Formica, 2013, pp. 14-16). In the next chapter, this phenomenon's emergence, ideology, and actuality in the practices will be revealed in more detail, emphasizing its most common definition (see section 2.2).
Moreover, although different visions state that global labor platforms provide location- based job opportunities, it is precisely the reason for encouraging the development of networks and knowledge of digital work worldwide (Graham et al., 2017, p. 140). Accordingly, digital nomad's hubs became paramount to knowledge developments, sharing cultures and innovations through co-working spaces, representing a stable social and work environment, offering the mobile and flexible workers a practical alternative, and combining office and cafeteria type in one environment (Orel, 2019, p. 5). Thus, numerous destinations have immediately reacted to the new phenomenon and showcased itself as digital nomads' friendly spots, introducing themselves as ideal locations for this lifestyle fragment to live and work, providing them with varied services and fulfilling their needs, including (co-)living and (co-) working spaces (Hannonen, 2020, p. 13).
A few years later, especially by 2005, digital nomads' physical existence became visible in those innovation hubs and co-working spaces global, where they present their shared identity through many organized conferences, events, and workshops for all digital nomads and like-minded people (Wang et al., 2018, pp. 4-5). The co-working spaces' central concept is to minimize social isolation as much as possible and facilitate the integration into the innovation hubs' social networks, especially for people longing to escape the confines of their cubicle walls, overcoming many limitations of the digital nomadism lifestyle (Rus and Orel, 2015, pp. 1020-1021). Thus, parallel to the rise of innovation hubs globally, the proliferation of co-working spaces is increasing. For instance, by the end of 2012, there were just about 2,000 co-working spaces, now in 2020, there are over 26,000 co-working spaces, and numbers are still growing. These co-working spaces are often casual and trendy hotspots that mark a clear contrast between new and old work models associated with Silicon Valley and San Francisco (Johns and Gratton, 2013).
In parallel with the emergence of globalization and the international mobility of individuals, Egypt has witnessed various essential developments, including the emergence of the sharing economy in many touristic fields, like as transportation (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Get Around, Rides), accommodation (e.g., Airbnb, Couch-Surfing, Home- Stay), and food supply (e.g., Eat-With), which has challenged all traditional business models in the tourism industry in Egypt (Fang et al., 2016, p. 265). Those improvements and the digital nomads' communities in many cities in Egypt have prepared the country as one of the rising digital nomads' destinations worldwide.
In Egypt, the Sphinx, the pyramids, the city of Luxor, and the ruins of the King's Village have made it over the years an outstanding open-air museum and hotspot for tourism. Additionally, Egypt's North Africa and Southwest Asia location provided great weather throughout the year, attracting many tourists and travelers, including nomads, backpackers, and hippies (Pigram and Wahab, 2005, pp. 138-139; Statista, 2019). Besides, there has been notable growth in the IT- innovations in digital services, sharing platforms, and co-working and co-living services over the last few years (Bakker, 2018, p. 15). As a result, with the start of modern co-working spaces in San Francisco by Brad Newberg in 2005, the co-working concept arrived in Cairo in 2007 by Rasheed (Egyptian) and Ulrike von Roecker (German). The idea started when they searched for a place to work and foster engagement and cooperation in Cairo (Nabil, 2018). The concept expanded and spread across Egypt in the next few years, reaching many coastal tourist cities such as Dahab, Alexandria, and Port Said (Nomad List, 2020).
Nonetheless, although Cairo is the capital city of Egypt and the birthplace of the coworking place's concept, Dahab city is attracting more digital nomads due to its warm weather, the better quality of life, and its location in the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula. Dahab (formerly a Bedouin fishing village) has been known for years to many young travelers, such as backpackers, Flashpackers, and Hippies (Daher, 2007, p. 257). Recently, thanks to the well-established digital nomad community in Dahab with its many co-working spaces and innovation centers, such as the Cowork-Inn Dahab, the Alchemist hub, and the Mojo Cowork-Café, the city is attracting many digital nomads annually, which put Dahab on the list of rising innovation hubs and digital nomads' destinations lists. The next chapter of this research concerns digital nomads' physical existence in innovation hubs, including Dahab, Egypt, as a case study, and illustrates how that community contributes to Dahab's economic development (see subsection 2.3.2).
Recently, over the past few years, Egypt is marketing itself as a digital nomads-friendly country through many online services and entrance facilities and concessions, like E- visa, visa on arrival, and visa Sinai-only, which costs just $ 25 for entrance (Egyptian Ministry of Interior, 2020). Thus, it is valuable and noteworthy to track the phenomenon of digital nomadism in Dahab and examine how Dahab's digital nomads' community enhances their professional improvement.
1.2 Objective and research questions
This study aims to refer to the raised awareness of the job market's changing values and shed light on how technology is used to break away from traditional work environments and achieve the work-life balance. Additionally, although there has been a rise in digital nomadism studies recently, previous literature has not mentioned Middle Eastern countries as innovation hubs, even though most of them host digital nomads. Thus, given that Egypt is one of the most capable digital nomads' host countries in the Middle East with excellent weather and a reasonable cost of living, along with the fascinating history and nature of many cities, especially Dahab city, it is worthy of examining the digital nomadism lifestyle in Dahab, Egypt and tracking its existence. This research paper is the first research paper discussing and examining the phenomenon in Egypt (or even in the Middle East), and address two research questions: First, what are the attributes of digital nomads in Dahab, Egypt. Second, how does Dahab's digital nomads' community enhance their professional improvement?
1.3 Thesis outline
This master's thesis contains five chapters organized as follows: Chapter one contained the introduction of the study, which comprised an in-depth background of the digital nomad's lifestyle, and provided a context for the research; chapter two depicts the literature review and briefly assesses the technological developments towards the knowledge society, showing the influence of knowledge work on job flexibility, followed with the emergence, ideology, and the actuality of digital nomadism in practice, identifying and differentiating it from other phenomena driven by familiar factors, revealing the physical existence of digital nomads and introducing Dahab, Egypt as a digital nomad's hotspot; chapter three focus on the methodology, explaining the research approach, method, and tools of data gathering; chapter four brings into data analysis and research findings; chapter five covers a conclusion of the research, limitations, and recommendations for future studies.
2 Theoretical Framework
This chapter depicts the literature review and contains three sections. The first section briefly introduces the technological developments towards the knowledge society, discussing the influence of knowledge work on job flexibility. The second section presents the emergence, ideology, and the actuality of the digital nomadism phenomenon in practice, and identifies the phenomenon, differentiating it from other phenomena driven by similar factors. Last, section three reveals digital nomads' physical existence in international innovation hubs and introduces Egypt as a digital nomads' host country and Dahab, Egypt, as a digital nomad's hotspot.
2.1 Towards knowledge Society
Literary, the lifestyle of digital nomadism is derived from the accelerations in economic and technological developments due to the shorter product life cycles, politically driven deregulation, and the global competition (Lundvall, 2016, p. 306). However, the differences between countries influence the innovation usage and lead to unequal conditions for adopting the digital nomad lifestyle, which arose with the emergence of the knowledge society and influenced the job market with its work flexibility (Ahuja and Morris Lampert, 2001, p. 532). Thus, it is imperative to track those technological developments' drivers and address their contribution to global interconnectedness. The following section introduces those technological developments briefly, starting from the analog to the digital revolution towards the knowledge society, showing the influence of knowledge work on job flexibility.
2.1.1 From analog developments to amassed digital advances
Historically, technological developments began with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution during the 18th century in Great Britain. The Industrial Revolution was a real transformation that shattered economic patterns and a slow historical course generally, giving an uncommon force for the development of all economic sectors. Disclosures of the renaissance period performed a limited role in Britain's industrial expansion within the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In that time coincided with the boom in Western Europe beyond the occasional flash of innovation. However, although that progress relied on developing and applying established knowledge, it was not science- based progress (IONESCU, 2018, pp. 184-186).
Furthermore, the flows of innovation were relied on society's urban sector, as the middle class had a sufficient income level for supporting professional developments, more individuals got to be engineers, merchants, researchers, scientists, and professors. As the European institutional developments have been dramatically grown, it has empowered the useful knowledge and encouraged it by focusing on executive constraints and securing property rights. In this way, progress became a rule rather than an exception (Epstein, 2004, p. 382).
Approximately one hundred years later, the Second Industrial Revolution (also known as the Technological Revolution) came out with a range of inventiveness, such as electricity, progress in the machine tool industry, and steel production. In the same period, there was an expansion of rail and telegraph and telephone systems, which ended in a new wave of globalization and real support for research and development (R&D) (Landes, 2017, pp. 54-56). Especially in Germany, the R&D sector has witnessed significant development, primarily in the chemical industry that fostered innovation (Liedtke, 2012, pp. 45-48). Consequently, the innovation literature has long recognized the role of R&D and gifted researchers and engineers in the active development of the science-based sectors, following with learning by doing science- based innovations progressively expanded flow that became the vital source of knowledge and later economic growth (Lundvall, 2016, p. 183). Hence, those developments in the West have equipped the residents with new technology instruments that developed their digital skills and knowledge to deal with new technology impositions for further innovations and inventions.
By the late 1950s, there was a significant shift from the mechanical and analog electronic technology to digital electronics. That shift was the main feature of the Third Industrial Revolution and the main reason for calling it a digital revolution.
Consequently, digital computers, mobile phones, fax machines, and digital records have led to new terms in the industry, such as digital computing and communication technology. That has prepared for the beginning of the Information age, ending with more technological changes, like the development of fiber optic cables and microprocessors, which led to faster transmissions and processing of information (Greenwood et al., 1999, pp. 14-16). Thus, information and communication technology (ICT) has transformed traditional production and became the essential energy source for economic growth in that era (Debjani and Bharati, 2014, p. 107). Additionally, Bresnahan (2010) assumed that the new technologies are usually developed in clusters, which support frequent interaction synergistic impacts, and reflect a particular milieu of concepts where exchanging problems and solutions is related to a given state of knowledge and skills (Bresnahan, 2010, pp. 788-789). Accordingly, the national competitive advantages in innovation and technological development pivot on specific knowledge and technical skills that reflect the digital nomads' nationalities not just in Dahab, Egypt, but also in all innovation hubs.
Finally, the rise of the web and versatile innovation during the 1990s, besides the innovation in semi-conductor technology and personal computers and the accelerated pace of globalization, has empowered the dramatic spread of ICT applications across sectors, nations, and even the most impoverished and isolated areas in the world. Additionally, that development had notable economic growth effects, especially in countries that support ICT, innovations, and R&D (Jorgenson and Vu, 2016, p. 3). Thus, ICT has overcome geographic isolation issues, increasing market access, and using the internet as an empowering knowledge source that made it possible to work anytime, from anyplace (Nelson et al., 2017, p. 1). Furthermore, the global economy is enrolling in a new economic order, in which Asian countries have a much more significant impact on the world economy due to the fast-changing landscape of technology there (Jorgenson and Vu, 2016, p. 15). Hence, this principally answers why most digital nomads prefer Asian cities as innovation hubs (see subsection 2.3.1).
Moreover, ICT empowered people to live away from congested cities and increased the probability of submerging in nature and ensuring the balance of work-life, depending on the virtual knowledge work and technological developments, leading into the knowledge society (Johns and Gratton, 2013; Woolsey, 2017). The next subsection reveals the transform into the knowledge society and the different types of work knowledge.
2.1.2 Shifting into the knowledge society
With today's technology, the modern job market has replaced many procedural and singular tasks careers, like cashiers, drivers, and chauffeurs with robotics and machines. However, digital networking still controls complex interaction communications and advanced pattern recognition, which is occupied by humans alone where (still yet) no place for robotics (Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2011, p. 4; Lee, 2017). Humans are also irreplaceable in some territory related to the real knowledge work that computers cannot yet cover like jobs required the physical domain and advanced mental abilities, as problem-solving (ibid).
Generally, knowledge works are typically available in abundance in societies that consider nurturing the societal, economic, cultural, political, and mental assumptions that shape a critical mass in society. That critical mass aims to ensure the spread of values and social dominance, creating the ability to tolerate appropriate innovations and high level of creativity, and ensuring a high level of material welfare and social comfort for more societal discoveries and developments. Additionally, the knowledge society reflects progress and changes resulting from previous social, economic, and technological developments, leading to global shift and sustained development processes (Melnikas, 2010, p. 530). That study is closely aligned with the International Labour Organization report in 2017, which highlighted the human capital as the core of any knowledge society, due to the human abilities of innovation, productivity, and job creation (ILO, 2017, p. 42).
Accordingly, workers in a knowledge society have to enhance skills and knowledge, be qualified for higher paid jobs or efficiently manage their enterprises, explore new goods and services markets, and engage themselves in daily learning processes and incremental innovation for higher productivity and skills developments. However, while innovativeness depends on the region's absorptive capacity, the favorable circumstances allow the ability to create synergetic impacts and encourage innovation (Melnikas, 2010, pp. 531-534). Moreover, although the economics of scale3, employment, land, and capital are the three principles for the economic growth, the economic expansion in cutting edge economies relies basically upon shared knowledge and collective intelligence (Audretsch et al., 2006, p. 33; Formica, 2013; Parker, 2018, p. 257). It is worth mentioning that, as non-competitive and nonexhaustible goods, knowledge and ideas contribute to the public interest since they do not diminish in amount by utilizing or limiting the user to specific knowledge when a third user utilizes it (Perret, 2014, p. 50). That emphasizes that new knowledge spillovers can be captured and leveraged to be added to other agents' innovative efforts and the creation of advanced knowledge (Parker, 2018, p. 240). Likewise, digital nomads acquire their knowledge and skills to perform knowledge work and reap the benefits of spreading knowledge through enhanced professional development. Typically, knowledge generators such as universities or R&D laboratories performed by enterprises and private inventors, offer that kind of knowledge for the new generations (Parker, 2018, p. 100; Perret, 2014, p. 53).
Usually, that knowledge is correlated with codified knowledge, which is documentable, transferable, and reproducible via publications in scientific journals and articles and can be nationally and globally diffused with digital access and platforms generation (Parker, 2018, p. 100; Perret, 2014, p. 53). The revenues invested in new products and processes and government support attributable to R&D and education are considered indirect indicators of growing codified-knowledge output, measured by graduates and levels of qualifications (Perret, 2014, p. 52). However, codified knowledge has many weaknesses, such as patents, which is codified knowledge that relies heavily on legislation and can weaken or halt codified knowledge due to patent laws and regulations. Another constraint of codified knowledge is the lack of accurate reflection of the actual qualifications, capabilities, and human capital (ibid).
Unlike codified knowledge, tacit knowledge is assumed to be non-codifiable and undocumentable since it is related to the human carriers, as individual knowledge and skills are usually context-specific (Parker, 2018, p. 100; Perret, 2014, p. 53). Therefore, a tacit knowledge spillover mostly results from face-to-face interactions and regularly repeated contacts, and since the cost of imparting tacit knowledge increases with distance, it is often locally concentrated (ibid).
Nevertheless, both types of knowledge (codified and tacit knowledge) can be gained through licenses, direct foreign and interregional investments, trade, imitation, or labor mobility through digital nomads. Therefore, although the codified knowledge spillovers are more likely to be spread globally, tacit knowledge is considered a critical innovation component (Perret, 2014, pp. 52-53). In this research paper, the tacit knowledge spillovers of the digital nomad community in Dahab, Egypt, will be examined through the online survey to answer the second research question: How does Dahab's digital nomads' community enhance their professional improvement?
Conclusively, knowledge, skills, and abilities related to career development have to be associated with the job market's future demand. For instance, interpersonal skills, such as leadership and customer service, and essential technical skills, such as dealing with software processing and manipulating spreadsheets, are essential cross-functional skills across industries and job titles, especially among the Millennium generation (Berger, 2017). Another practical example, given that we are still in the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies became requiring employees with digital skills who can work remotely and deal with technology, and it started to re-skill and trained their employees to work remotely (Connor, 2020). Thus, digital skills have already become a prerequisite, alongside other professional and interpersonal skills, due to location independence and work flexibility (Haas, 2020). The next subsection introduces how virtual knowledge work has enabled flexibility at work, which subsequently led to the phenomenon of digital nomadism.
2.1.3 Influences of knowledge work flexibility on lifestyles
Overall, knowledge work allows switching between and within the work sectors and provides location independence that provides an opportunity to improve living standards by shifting from a lower job level to a higher job level (Jütting and de Laiglesia, 2009, p. 115). Also, the continued widespread adoption of the internet and modern technology by workers, managers, customers, and end-products users has empowered to be located at different corners globally and connected by different mobility dimensions (Graham et al., 2017, p. 136; Nelson et al., 2017, p. 14). Similarly, prompt connectivity and the reducing marginal expense of transferring and transforming information across geographic separations has contributed to the dramatic rise of virtual knowledge work (Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2011; World Economic Forum, 2017, p. 22;35). Moreover, according to the World Economic Forum, virtual knowledge work (as flexible work) is the most critical driver of advanced economies' change because emerging markets are driven by an increasing middle- class that accounts for the majority (Berger, 2017).
In the post-digital era, businesses became radically reforming their core practices being flexible enough with innovations to thrive or at least survive. Thus, in many companies, employees were offered flexible working arrangements to work more efficiently, productively and be satisfied with their jobs (Bahrami and Evans, 2005, p. 1; Laine, 2017, p. 1). For instance, some large IT-companies, such as IBM and Yahoo, began adopting remote work arrangements for software developers (Hazelett and Byhoff, 2017; Johns and Gratton, 2013; Schlagwein, 2018, p. 1). Furthermore, in 2017, nearly 60 percent of US companies allowed their employees to work remotely to reduce mobility and office space costs and attract and retain global talent (Hazelett and Byhoff, 2017).
Simultaneously, due to the changes in lifestyles and attitudes in many cultures, work became less central to many people's lives (Laine, 2017, p. 1). That parallelly has increased the importance of other issues like family relationships, well-being, and work-life balance, which are essential in a knowledge society and strongly linked to the digital nomad lifestyle (ibid). Therefore, an attractive work environment has become a standard requirement for many workers to foster creativity and innovations and discover human talents and emotions, which has led many people to travel around the world in search of adventure, more creativity, and new ideas (Lee, 2017). According to Ferris (2011), traveling around the world can be both affordable and cheaper than paying apartment rent in many developed countries (e.g., the USA), indicating that people can increase the value of their money 3-10 times, only If they can free up their time and location (Ferriss, 2011, pp. 22-23). Furthermore, the concept of geographical arbitrage, asserting that people with modest Western incomes can secure a luxurious and comfortable lifestyle in countries with weaker currencies. For instance, two thousand dollars a month allows a luxury lifestyle in Bangkok; however, it would not be enough in San Francisco (ibid).
Consequently, the phenomenon of digital nomads emerged by those who wanted to work digitally while traveling, which created a modern lifestyle that differs from any other traditional work lifestyle, as it is driven by a strong desire to travel and the search for work-life balance (Schlagwein, 2018, p. 1, 2017, pp. 1-2). Accordingly, these developments and changes in lifestyles and attitudes in many cultures have been the primary elements that have given rise to the digital nomad lifestyle phenomenon, especially since 2015, with the emergence of the physical existence of digital nomads (Schlagwein, 2017, p. 2). In the next section, the phenomenon of digital nomadism will be presented in more detail, distinguishing it from other phenomena that are mainly driven by many similar factors.
2.2 Digital nomadism: Emergence, ideology, and actuality
Overall, as mentioned in the previous chapter, the phenomenon of digital nomadism is an evolving type of advanced mobile digital work that has arisen from IT developments, digital Knowledge work flexibility, and changes in culture's lifestyles and attitudes, which have caused many fundamental impacts on individuals, societies, and companies. The first appearance of the phenomenon in that today's known shape was by the 2000s when IT-companies started accepting remote working arrangements for software developers (Hazelett and Byhoff, 2017; Johns and Gratton, 2013; Schlagwein, 2018, p. 1). Nevertheless, the phenomenon has been highly recognized as mainstream with the rise of the online digital nomad's communities (e.g., NomadList and Numbeo) and the emergence of their co-working places (e.g., Hubud in Bali, Indonesia and Ko Hub & Hubba in Thailand) between 2010 and 2015 (Schlagwein, 2018, pp. 4-5).
At that time, the co-working spaces became more influential and attracted over one million remote workers and digital nomads, which arose the physical manifestation spots for digital nomadism. Consequently, digital nomads exhibited their shared identity through many organized conferences, such as the Digital Nomad Conference in 2014 (DNX) and Coworking Unconference Asia in 2015 (CUAsia) (Schlagwein, 2018, p. 5). By 2016, McKinsey Global Institute reports have addressed the number of digital nomads amounted to over 500,000 digital nomads and predicted a dramatic growth in numbers of digital freelancing and Internet platform-based workers, including the digital nomads, to reach approximately 72 million in 2025 (Carter, 2016; Manyika et al., 2015; Schlagwein, 2017). Recently, after the COVID-19 pandemic, as most workers switched to home offices and experienced flexibility in work and saved more transport time, a new wave of digital nomads is expected to appear (Connor, 2020; Haas, 2020).
Moreover, few previous studies have addressed the phenomenon of digital nomadism and analyzed them separately or included them with other types of travelers or tourists. However, those studies are fragmented and scattered in various research fields (Wang et al., 2018, p. 1). Thus, the following subsections expose some relevant extracts of those previous studies, emphasizing the more common definition of digital nomads and differentiating them from other phenomena and ending up with the ideology of digital nomadism and its actuality in practice.
2.2.1 Extracts from previous studies
The recent digital nomadism research is often served by many multidisciplinary previous studies that support the multiplicity of digital nomad experiences. Many authors like Moravec et al. (2013), D'Andrea (2006, 2007), and Richards (2015) have included the digital nomads in the global- and neo-nomads phenomena, while others, such as Toussaint (2009) and Reichenberger (2018), have studied them separately. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of them have critically discussed the phenomena from an ethnographic or touristic perspective derived from tourism and travel research.
Academically, D'Andrea has contributed to the previous nomadic literature with many precious and valuable research and books. For instance, D'Andrea (2007) came out with the first in-depth treatment of the phenomenon of global nomads, categorizing them into wanderers (Drifters), explorers, and neo-nomads (included the digital nomads). In this study, digital nomads were identified as independently minded travelers who eschew traditional touristic destinations and metropolitan places (D’Andrea, 2007, p. 8). But, D'Andrea focused his research on the cultural and conceptual significance of global nomads and the interrelationships between large- scale hypermobility and the formation of subjectivity, through fieldwork among expatriates in Ibiza, Spain, emphasizing the essential aspects of globalization to assess the global nomads' characteristics and lifestyle (D’Andrea, 2007, p. 1). Also, that study underlined the new nomads' lifestyle exhibits the desires and rejections of settled societies (their original homelands) toward counter-cultural (nomadic lifestyles), despising home-centered cultures which motivated them to create new forms of subjectiveness and lifestyle-based bonding (D’Andrea, 2006, pp. 100-104).
Similarly, Moravec indicated towards the emergence of "knowmad-society" that came as a result of rapid changes in a world driven by technological and social changes and globalization, defining the nomadic knowledge worker (included the digital nomads) as a creative, imaginative, and creative people who can manage their work with almost anybody in the world, at any time, and from anywhere (Moravec et al., 2013, p. 18). In that study, industrial society is identified as the place of knowledge and work innovation, stating that while the industrialization needed human resources to settle in one place to achieve minimal roles or functions, jobs became high associated with knowledge, achieving more task- and place-independent for information workers (Moravec et al., 2013, p. 19). Furthermore, this view corresponded with the fundamental role of knowledge society towards digital nomadism (see subsection 2.1.2) and had a contribution role by many research papers like Reichenberger (2018) and Formica (2013) by defining and outlining the digital nomads' lifestyle, which will be mentioned in the next subsections.
Last but not least, Richards (2015) defined and analyzed the digital nomads' phenomenon from a general touristic perspective, including them under the youth nomadism phenomenon. The research interpreted the swift increase of youth traveler numbers and the continuous expansion of the tourism field in the last decades as the main reasons for the new-nomads' phenomenon, identifying them as regularly traveled young adults. Richards has built his study on a global survey with about 34,000 respondents and categorized them into three basic nomadism travel styles: Backpackers and flashpackers (who are a synonym for digital nomads from his viewpoint), and global nomads (Richards, 2015, p. 1). Those three phenomena will be explained in more detail in the next pages, comparing them with the digital nomad's phenomenon (see subsection 2.2.3).
In contrast, Toussaint (2009) and Reichenberger (2018) have studied the digital nomads' phenomenon separately, differentiated them from other similar phenomena, and categorized them into three types: The first type is continuous travelers with the concept of saving money as much as possible, relying on donations or and sponsors. The second type is those independent workers who are keen on traveling and adopted a profession that gives them the ability to work through different communication techniques and devices. The last type is business travelers who travel around the world running their business, engaging with their potential clients; however, finding an environment that assists their requirements for suitable habitat (Toussaint, 2009, pp. 17-19). Similarly, Reichenberger (2018) categorized them into three models: The first model is flexible workers without the concept of traveling. The second model is extensive travelers who are holding on a continuous residence. The last model is place-independent lifestyle movers without staying in a particular place or country (Reichenberger, 2018, p. 364).
Still, both viewpoints of Toussaint (2009) and Reichenberger (2018) faced heavy criticism by Hannonen (2020), which is the most recent analytical study about the digital nomad's definition, stated that both perspectives were not accurately analyzed due to the inclusiveness of categorizations by considering all these types mentioned above as digital nomads (Hannonen, 2020, p. 7). Additionally, while many of these categories are models and examples of teleworkers, other types of nomads, and other mobile and immobile professionals, only a few represent the digital nomadic lifestyle, according to the original term of digital nomadism (ibid). Hence, it was worth tracing this original term and addressing the digital nomadism standard definition presented in the next subsection.
2.2.2 Digital nomad’s definitions
As presented in the earlier subsection, the previous studies and some recent literature on the digital nomadism phenomenon are fragmented and scattered through various fields of research and perspectives, which lead to several definitions, interpretations, and opinions about the digital nomad's lifestyle (Wang et al., 2018, p. 1). Therefore, it is essential to track back the first sign of digital nomadism's original term to deliver a clearer understanding of the phenomenon's rise and its characteristics.
Literately, the first sign for the concept of digital nomads appeared in 1984 by Steve K. Roberts, who built a computerized recumbent bicycle and traveled by it across the USA and defined that as a high-tech nomad lifestyle (Roberts, 1984). Nevertheless, the first independently arise for the term Digital Nomad was by Mikimoto and Manners. They used this term in their book "Digital Nomad" in 1997, which used the term as a definition of a future lifestyle which is equipped with many technological developments, like high- advanced networks and affordable mobile devices, breaking the link between work and location (Makimoto and Manners, 1997, p. 3). Mikimoto and Manners have described the digital nomad as following:
"Finding himself in a pleasant part of the world and enabled by technology to run his business from a hotel room (or even a beach) without being at the mercy of the latest crisis call, he can take time out to enjoy himself free from the dictates of a rigid travel schedule set by a zealous secretary or a demanding boss" (Makimoto and Manners, 1997, p. 147).
Consequently, due to the increase of studies on digital nomads in different study fields and discussed from different analyzation perspectives, other definitions arose, which defined the phenomenon from a work-life perspective, referring to the digital nomad as a remote mobile worker, and from a lifestyle perspective which is relying on the engagement of traveling around the world. Nonetheless, both approaches prove that business relationships and work productivity besides traveling are characterizing digital nomads' lifestyles. On the one hand, Liegl (2014), Müller (2016), and Naz (2017) identified digital nomads from a work-life perspective. However, they all had not considered the travel aspect of the lifestyle.
"A mobile knowledge worker who relies on digital technologies to get their jobs done anywhere and anytime" (Liegl, 2014, p. 163).
"A modern generation of freelancers, entrepreneurs, online self-employed youth who are location-independent and work from anywhere, instead of from a conventional office, as long as they pack their laptops and stably connected stable to the internet" (Müller, 2016, p. 344).
"The new-generation information technology professionals, entrepreneurs, and freelancers" (Naz, 2017, p. 257).
On the other hand, from a lifestyle perspective, Wang et al. (2018) have developed that analysis approach and emphasized that the independent location work of digital nomads is always accompanied by the colossal involvement of traveling, referring to the of digital nomads as following:
"Teleworkers whose extreme geographic mobility allows them to work and live from anywhere, enabled by the digitalizing of their factors of production. They, therefore, choose to work from everywhere, living a life of ongoing interleaved work and travel" (Wang et al., 2018, p. 9).
Additionally, Thompson (2019) has concerned the freedom and traveling in the digital nomad's lifestyle as an ability besides their work, characterizing it as:
"The ability for individuals to work remotely from their laptop and use their freedom from an office to travel the world" (Thompson, 2018, p. 27).
This view is consistent with the original term and viewpoint of Makimoto and Manners that stated that the "urge to travel" is a fundamental element of the lifestyle of digital nomads associated with the ability to achieve it (Makimoto and Manners, 1997, p. 17).
Finally, few recent research papers have successfully recognized the digital nomads' phenomenon, combining the discussed above perspectives and characterizing their lifestyle. For instance, Reichenberger (2018) inferred the definition of digital nomads, identifying them as location-independent workers, predominantly young professionals, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote employees, distinguishes them with the ability to combine travel and virtual knowledge work simultaneously, driven by personal and professional freedom motivations (Reichenberger, 2018, pp. 369-375). Additionally, their phenomenon is featured with many unique characteristics, e.g., a considerable part of them are continuously traveling; however, they spend about three months a year in their home countries due to the variation of visa regulations and residence permits between countries. Also, regarding their distinct traits, they are in their twenties and thirties, and most of them are still without family commitments; however, they all grew up with an affinity to ICT that intuitively prompted them to be virtual knowledge workers. Also, most of them have finished their studies with a minimum of a bachelor's degree, which has given them the ability to work as entrepreneurs, freelancers, or even remote employees (ibid).
Beyond that, Reichenberger (2018) analytical perspective is considered the most common identification in the current literature on the phenomenon of digital nomadism, as many recent studies like Thompson (2018), Wang et al. (2018), Mouratidis (2018), Hannonen (2020) and Mancinelli (2020) referred to it in their studies and submitted it as an accurate definition.
2.2.3 Similar phenomena to digital nomadism
Accordingly, from previous studies and the various definitions mentioned of digital nomads, due to the similarities between nomadic phenomena, it was evident that several authors confused this phenomenon with other similar travel patterns (e.g., backpackers and flashpackers), non-mobile workers (e.g., teleworkers), and nomadic phenomena (such as global and neo-nomads). Hence, it is necessary to briefly differentiate the digital nomads from those other, highlighting their relationships and variations.
Backpackers By the 1990s, with the rise in youth travel rates, the backpacker phenomenon became well-known for hostels, hostels and guest houses, internet cafés, bars, and restaurants worldwide. On the one side, similar to the digital nomadism, the backpacking phenomenon is a type of youth travel itinerary characterized by low-cost, independent travel, and affordable accommodations, e.g., hostels, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb, allowing backpackers to extend out their travel budgets (O’Reilly, 2006, p. 999; Richards, 2015, p. 14). Additionally, backpackers always travel with all the possessions necessary for their trip in a backpack and rucksacks. Noy (2004) classifies them as "Tribal Nomads" since they congregate in specific enclaves, creating opportunities for sharing stories and travel advice (Noy, 2004, p. 82). On the other side, the essential differentiation between digital nomads and backpackers is that for the latter, it is not necessary to work while traveling or even find a job to support and continue their journey, which means that they travel mainly for tourism or lifestyle reasons (Mouratidis, 2018, pp. 31-32). Nevertheless, the digital nomadism phenomenon's roots can be traced back to the backpacking and other phenomena with a shared cultural understanding of the nomadic lifestyle (Schlagwein, 2018, p. 1). Furthermore, due to the upsurge of technological developments, the backpacking concept began to disappear (Richards, 2015, p. 3), led to the newer nomadic phenomenon "Flashpacking," which identified by Hannam and Diekman (2010) as older backpackers with higher budgets and financial resources and equipped with expensive and hightech electronic equipment and share the same lifestyle with the same thirst for travel (Hannam and Diekmann, 2010, p. 62).
Flashpackers The Flashpacking phenomenon is an extension of backpacks; However, high travel expenses and technology use are the two main features that distinguish flashpackers from backpackers. Flashpackers are defined as technology-savvy backpackers who utilize technology as a connection instrument for planning, booking, and executing their worldwide journeys and staying connected to their social networks, platforms, digital channels, blogs, and social media sites. Therefore, their physical mobility and online/virtual connection are highly interrelated (Paris, 2012, pp. 1098-1114). Additionally, as a nomad lifestyle category that connected technology with travel, flashpacking embodied the mix between backpacking and digital nomadism lifestyles (Paris, 2012, p. 1095).
Hence, flashpacking and digital nomadism lifestyles are overlapped phenomena, as both use social networks and shares travel experiences online. Therefore, there is no wonder that many authors have used both terms as synonyms like Richards (2015) (see subsection 2.2.1). However, unlike the flashpacking lifestyle, the digital nomad's lifestyle is featured with high engagement in (semi)permanent or even continuous travel (Nash et al., 2018, p. 2; Thompson, 2018, p. 5; Toussaint, 2009, pp. 17-19) and needs to implement work-related tasks and professional or business activities while traveling to make money and fuel their trips (Thompson, 2018b, p. 14). Thus, only using technology and high-tech devices besides traveling does not make people digital nomads.
Teleworkers Telework, also known as telecommuting, is a work arrangement wherein workers spend their work time away from the conventional workplaces, such as an office building, warehouse, or store, employed from home, and achieve their work relied on computer-based technology (Golden and Gajendran, 2019, p. 56). Current studies like Thompson (2018, 2019) have referred to the telecommuter workers as those who used their remote-work flexibility to work from home, cut down transportation costs, and avoid office-based distractions (Thompson, 2018, p. 2). Additionally, the work environment and location of teleworkers often remain unchanged. Furthermore, the knowledge and insights needed to complete their tasks or the interaction level with other organizational members remain the same no matter whether they work from home or an office (Golden and Gajendran, 2019, p. 56). Thus, teleworking is associated with geographical immobility, advanced technological connectivity, and a high degree of interaction (Golden and Gajendran, 2019, p. 60). Thompson (2018) has analyzed both phenomena and efficiently differentiated the digital nomadism from telecommunicating as a remote-working lifestyle, suggesting many things in common and distinctions between them. As commonalities, digital nomadism is an extension of telecommuting and remote working, and there is a massive part of digital nomads’ daily jobs relying on teleworking, which is achieved almost every day from different locations around the world. On the contrary, telecommuting concerns the balancing between household duties and jobs, while digital nomadism concerns the balancing between leisure and work, selecting their location based on leisure and lifestyle considerations, rather than work or employment (Thompson, 2018, p. 5). Thus, digital nomads are not telecommuters since their lifestyle is featured with location-independency and continued travel.
Global and Neo-Nomads Primarily, the difference between global and neo-nomads is merely differences in terminology based on subjective terms rather than conceptual and structural differences, as many authors have used them as alternative expressions (Hannonen, 2020, p. 9; Richards, 2015, p. 4). For example, D’Andrea (2016) used both terms for both expressive and hypermobile expatriate synonymously, categorizing them into wanderers (Drifters), explorers, and neo-nomads (included the digital nomads), mixing between the neo-nomads and the digital nomads (see subsection 2.2.1).
Furthermore, the global and neo-nomadism describe those full-time travelers who roam the world without a fixed place of residence, business place, or a local circle of friends (D’Andrea, 2006, p. 98; Kannisto, 2014, p. 2; Mouratidis, 2018, p. 31). Typically, they live on the margins of stable societies, and many have chosen to forgo the safety and security that would have provided them with regular income, healthcare, and insurance in their home countries (ibid). However, similar to the digital nomads, they shift away from issues of metropolitan, consumerism, traditional employment, and monadic individualism, leaving their home countries behind and escaping from life stress and seeking new adventures (D’Andrea, 2006, p. 99; Kannisto, 2014, p. 116; Nash et al., 2018, p. 1). In contrast to the digital nomads' lifestyle, the global nomads and neo-nomads do not necessarily work; however, sometimes they look for alternative job opportunities in destinations, such as in entertainment and restaurants, to continue traveling or for life essentials (ibid). Additionally, the main differentiation factor between the two phenomena is, unlike digital nomads, both global and neonomads do not needfully use technology and technological devices as an essential tool in their lifestyle (Mouratidis, 2018, p. 31).
To sum up, all phenomena mentioned above are intensely overlapped, and most of them contributed to others' emergence, which created the similarities and shared features (Hannonen, 2020, p. 7; Mouratidis, 2018; Richards, 2015, p. 3; Schlagwein, 2018, p. 1). Nevertheless, the most significant features that differentiate the digital nomads from the others is the combination of using technology, implement work- related tasks, and professional or business activities while traveling beside the freedom and flexibility factors (Reichenberger, 2018, p. 10). So, for a comprehensive evaluation of the digital nomad's lifestyle, which would interpret several interviewees' answers in this research, the next subsection concerns the digital nomad's ideology and its actuality in practice.
2.2.4 Digital nomadic ideology and actualities in practice
Initially, since ideology and practice are two mutually determining factors, they are considered related to each other. In other words, practices cannot be something external to the ideology of digital nomadism but instead as frictions arising from following a particular ideology. Thus, it shows the intersects of the ideology with daily life practices and whether and where contradictions can be found (Platon and Deuze, 2003, pp. 343-344). Moreover, this classification assists structure the interpretive repertoire in a more meaningful way and provides an approach to looking at the digital nomadism phenomenon from an analytical angle. Figure 1 is an explanatory repertoire model and illustrates the highlights of digital nomads' ideology and reflects its actuality in practice.
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Figure 1 Explanatory repertoire model of digital nomadism ideology
As mentioned in the previous sections, the digital nomadism ideology is characterized by a high degree of autonomy, independence of work and location, and flexibility of temporal structures with high control over work and life decisions, which can result in increased creativity and productivity of the digital nomads (ILO, 2017, p. 42; Jütting and de Laiglesia, 2009, p. 115; Melnikas, 2010, pp. 531-534). This lifestyle is surrounded with high levels of professional, spatial4, and personal freedom (Reichenberger, 2018, pp. 369-375; Thompson, 2018, p. 27), and served with the concept of the geo-arbitrage (Ferriss, 2011, pp. 22-23) that fuels the travel adventures in new cultures around all the world (Apostolopoulos et al., 1996, pp. 107-108; D’Andrea, 2007, p. 1, 2006, pp. 100-104; Laine, 2017, p. 1; Schlagwein, 2017, p. 2). However, in practice, it suffers from several barriers and limitations at functional, financial, political, and cultural levels that require life and work balance (Perret, 2014, p. 59).
At first glance of the digital nomadism lifestyle's ideology, it might seem reasonable to assume that it is fuelled with unlimited freedom and flexibility. Nevertheless, in the practice of digital nomadism, in contrast to the notions of independence and flexibility in work, digital nomads are often limited due to time zone determining factors as their clients are usually located in various places with different time zones (Pedersen and Lewis, 2012, pp. 465-466). Additionally, digital nomads need to align themselves with the client's demands, resulting in unusual and irregular working hours, being available from time to time outside their regular work hours (ibid). Furthermore, digital nomads need to find a suitable site with a good internet connection and the right surroundings to do their job. In this situation, inaccurate or flawed digital infrastructure could impede their digital work (Nelson et al., 2017, pp. 7; 9). Therefore, digital nomadism's independence and freedom are contradictory to this lifestyle's practice as other dependencies and restrictions arise due to the interconnectedness of knowledge, work, travel, and technologies.
From a financial analytical aspect, although the geo-arbitrage concept can secure a luxurious and comfortable lifestyle in countries with weaker currencies with modest Western incomes (Ferriss, 2011, pp. 22-23), the digital nomad lifestyle might be discouraged for tasks requiring face-to-face interactions. For instance, in many unprocessed corporate systems like in investment banking or real estate, it might cause losing jobs or clients due to the unphysical availability (Barsness et al., 2005, p. 403; Hazelett and Byhoff, 2017). Moreover, according to digital nomads websites analysis, there were many limitations to handle and deal with taxes, bank accounts management, exchange rates in different countries, or ensuring getting funds on time or finding a bank or ATM with immediate services (Nomad List, 2019; Perret, 2014, p. 59). Furthermore, whereas the continuous travel provides digital nomads with new experiences, adventures, freedom and flexibility, different cultures, and new people, these pleasures might come at the expense of a certain degree of stress, lack of family ties, loneliness, isolation, and integration obstacles (Thompson, 2018, p. 2; Nash et al., 2018, p. 6; Perret, 2014, p. 59). Since most of their friends and families have a different lifestyle than nomadic lifestyles, the digital nomads suffer from many superficial relationships created online via platforms and social media or even in large events or co-living and co-working spaces (Thompson, 2018, pp. 5; 14). Additionally, they might suffer from many issues like insurance and healthcare and visa and tax policies, which can differ for each destination and cause an administrative burden (Schlagwein, 2018, p. 2; Thompson, 2018b, p. 17; Mancinelli, 2020, p. 5).
Finally, although digital nomadism's autonomy aspect allows choosing what to work and when to get the job done, which seems to be a desirable goal for knowledge workers generally, it entails high practice responsibility. This responsibility consists of the high level of self-management for all work decisions, which features a challenge for the digital nomads, who might face it by normalizing risks through discipline and behaving under flexible employment conditions (Neff et al., 2005, p. 1). However, even with the requisite degree of discipline, the dispersion factors are enormous, especially when workers are surrounded by tourist spots or perpetually in a new environment. Thus, autonomy can limit the amount of control a worker has over the work environment and may lead to stress and burnout (Valenduc and Vendramin, 2016, p. 25).
It is worth mentioning that the implementation of digital nomads' lifestyle is ambiguous as it depends on the digital nomads' experiences and characters to secure work-life balance. For that reason, the ramifications of ICT-based mobile work, regarding working conditions, are sometimes conflicting, as they are positive in certain aspects yet negative in others (Valenduc and Vendramin, 2016, p. 32). The negative aspects are similar in many ways to those generally attributed to working remotely, e.g., performance-driven pay, sophisticated monitoring and control systems, information overload and social isolation, the stress of being solely responsible for organizing work, full-time availability, and outsourcing responsibility towards the business owner (ibid). For that reason, the innovation hubs globally compete to provide the digital nomad with the necessary capabilities and services to overcome all these obstacles, beginning with the high-speed internet to digital communities' formation to avoid loneliness and stress (Kachroo-Levine, 2017; Hannonen, 2020, p. 14). Hence, the next section briefly concerns digital nomads' physical existence, providing an overview of the international innovation hubs and presents Dahab city as a case study.
2.3 Digital nomad’s pinpoints: The physical existence
The physical existence of digital nomads can be seen in innovation hubs worldwide, where they present their shared identity through many organized conferences, events, and workshops for digital nomads (Schlagwein, 2018, pp. 4-5). Consequently, the innovation hubs compete globally to enhance digital nomads' lifestyle, supporting them to overcome any potential obstacles and restrictions (Hannonen, 2020, p. 14). This section provides an overview of the international innovation hubs in Asia and Africa, presenting Egypt, Dahab, as a rising digital nomad's hub. From a literary perspective, it also answers the second research question: How does Dahab's digital nomads' community enhance their professional improvement?
2.3.1 Digital nomads' innovation hubs
The innovation hubs arose with the sensational ascent of co-working spaces, which provided collaborative communities for digital nomads widely linked to Silicon Valley and San Francisco (see section 2.2). Through feedback loops accelerated in these coworking spaces and upheld by teamwork and collegiality, the innovation hubs contributed to increasing digital nomad's confidence and generating ideas and cultural alignment. Therefore, it drove numerous digital nomads to utilize the innovation hubs as a remote base for interacting with others and fostering an environment that encourages discoveries (Johns and Gratton, 2013). Consequently, numerous destinations worldwide have immediately reacted to the new phenomenon and showcased itself as digital nomads' friendly spots, introducing themselves as ideal locations for this lifestyle fragment to live and work (Hannonen, 2020, p. 13). In those hubs, many start-ups fulfill the digital nomad's needs, including (co-)living and (co-) working spaces, house rentals, entertainment programs, conferences, banking, and health insurance (Hannonen, 2020, p. 14). Furthermore, various nations have built up alluring tax assessments, sans visa stays, e-residency, and visa schemes to welcome more digital nomads on their lands, such as the smart Thai visa and Estonian digital nomadic visa (ibid).
Commonly, Asian innovation hubs are considered cheap, safe, modern hubs, which are well-equipped with the best technological infrastructure, like Hong Kong, that occupies the fastest Internet speed globally. As another Asian key destination for digital nomads, Bali in Indonesia is well known as a home of the idyllic co-working spaces. Especially in Ubud city that hosts a wide range of nomadic activities, workshops, conferences, and long and short-term events like sharing skill sessions, local language courses, and start-up ideas for weekends and Pecha Kucha presentations5 for ideas sharing (Carter, 2016).
Furthermore, each hub serves different digital nomads communities with different cultures and attitudes, reflecting various terms and conditions (Johns and Gratton, 2013). Thus, digital nomads need to think about their destination hub since it can raise their professional and personal goals and value creation (Richter et al., 2017). The differences between the innovation hubs usually rely on the members' interactions that create perceived similarity, common acceptance, and attraction. Nevertheless, the demographic differences classify people, whereas the innovation hubs cultures drive the classification process. That classification is addressed through activities designed to increase interaction through differences, such as shared task dependencies, official mentoring events. The social networks can also create shared experiences and values that further facilitate interaction despite the demographic characteristics (Barsness et al., 2005, p. 403). Still, most digital nomads' lifestyle misses and sometimes lack a sense of community, which leads to losing the richness of cooperation and the societal factor (Johns and Gratton, 2013).
For digital nomads, since their lifestyle is characterized by high engagement in (semi)permanent travel (see subsection 2.2.2), they need to get sufficient reliable information about their next destination before traveling. For such a requirement, the NomadList website is considered the most well-known and trustworthy digital nomad website. It ranks the best places in the world to live and work remotely, based on many dimensions like geo-arbitrage, weather, internet speed, networks infrastructure, safety, and peace rates, considering the local reaction of racism, gay/LGBT friendliness, air quality, humidity, entertainments, and nightlife. At the Asian and global level, NomadList has ranked Canggu, Bali in Indonesia, Chiang Mai & Bangkok in Thailand, and Jeju Island and Daegu in South Korean as the top five innovation hubs for digital nomads (NomadList, 2020; Molly, 2020). Nevertheless, at the African level, many African countries can welcome digital nomads with relatively well-equipped cities with central tech hubs and co-working places such as Egypt in North Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria in the middle, and South Africa in the South (Du Boucher, 2016). Moreover, given that a cost-of-living analysis is essential for digital nomads who need more in-depth information about their next destination, NUMBEO is the most popular and reliable digital nomad's website. It gathers and updates the prices of living basics in digital nomads' hubs, providing the required data with function to compare it between different destinations.
Finally, Egypt is one of the most capable innovation hubs on the North African and the Middle Eastern level at the same time as it has a wide range of co-working spaces and co-living and a high level of sharing economy (Du Boucher, 2016). Additionally, it connects two continents, with the Sinai Peninsula, which led to the diversity in cultures, history, and landscapes. Thus, it empowers the land to be an upcoming international innovation hub, competing with the Asian hubs (Nomad List, 2020). The next subsections present Egypt as a digital nomad destination and introduce Dahab city as a case study for an innovation hub since it is well-known for many previous types of nomads and backpackers.
2.3.2 Egypt as a digital nomad’s host country
Overall, historically and over thousands of years, Egypt is well known as a tourist destination, and it is an enigmatic treasure trove of archaeological and cultural riches. The Sphinx, the pyramids, Luxor city, and the monuments of Valley of the Kings made it a vast open-air museum, which attracts millions of tourists yearly. The country enjoys an exciting location in North Africa and Southwest Asia, which provided it with adorable weather around the year. Consequently, over the last decade, Egypt has developed many tourism sectors, and coastal cities included the Mediterranean and the Red Sea coasts, the Aqaba, and the western desert zones (Pigram and Wahab, 2005, pp. 138139), what made it able to welcome about two million visitors in 2018 from around all the world (Statista, 2019), despite all actual political obstacles and crises6. Besides the emergence of sharing economy concepts, those improvements were the main reasons for attracting new young tourists' waves, including digital nomads (Harb, 2018, p. 86).
Particularly in recent years, Egypt has witnessed various significant developments, including the sharing economy practices in the tourism sector, which have entirely changed Egypt's touristic supply chain. The emergence of the sharing economy in many touristic fields in Egypt, like in transportation (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Get Around, Rides), accommodation (e.g., Airbnb, Couch-Surfing, Home-Stay), and food supply (e.g., Eat-With) has challenged all traditional business models in the tourism industry (Fang et al., 2016, p. 265). Moreover, other drivers like the growth of IT- innovations in digital services, sharing platforms, digital payment methods have contributed to the growth and widespread sharing economy's practices in Egypt (Bakker, 2018, p. 15). As a result, the growing practices of sharing economy in tourism have attracted a new type of tourists, including the digital nomads, who are more recently make an effort to be engaged within the local environment and culture and revealing more appreciation for authentic and not contrived contexts (Harb, 2018, p. 85). Richards (2014) has referred to that tourism model as relational tourism, which is highly dependent on high levels of creativity and regional interaction with the regional contexts and services customarily offered from raising local small-sized companies or SMEs (Richards, 2014, p. 88).
Lately, as the modern co-working spaces began in San Francisco by Brad Neuberg in 2005, the concept of co-working spaces reached Cairo in 2007 by Rasheed (Egyptian) and Ulrike von Ruecker (German). The idea started when they searched for a place to work and promote sharing and collaboration in Cairo. Then, the concept overgrew and spread across Egypt in the next few years, and by 2011, Rasheed established The- District co-working space, which became the most famous destination for digital nomads in Cairo, afterward other new co-working spaces joined, such as 302-Labs, Almaqarr, Ice-Cairo, and Start-up Haus-Cairo (Nabil, 2018). Although there is a rarity of online statistical data about Egypt, the website Egyptinnovate for creative and modern business models in Egypt has listed over 120 co-working sites and about 28 innovation tech spots just in Cairo and over 20 co-working places in Dahab (Du Boucher, 2016; Nabil, 2018).
Furthermore, according to the NomadList website, Egypt contributes to the digital nomadism world with well-equipped seven cities, namely Dahab, Cairo, Giza, Luxor, El- Gouna, Alexandria, and Port Said (see figure 2). All of them are listed and ranked by NomadList. Generally, all those cities' typical features were the warm weather around the year and high-safe degrees for women and solo travelers, except Cairo and Giza7 were ranked with high traffic jams and less tolerance towards LGBTQ+ activities8. Additionally, from the ratings and evaluations of the digital nomads on the website, it was evident that the living costs in Egypt are much affordable than any other international hubs in the area; however, Dahab, Alexandria, Port Said, and Cairo were the most affordable cities in Egypt respectively (Nomad List, 2020).
1 Location- and working time independence
2 Geo-arbitrage describes living with a Western income in countries with weaker currencies.
3 Economic growth through large-scale production, decreasing costs per unit, and creating mass productions.
4 Location-independence freedom
5 Presentations consist of 20 slides, which should be presented in 20 seconds. Slides change automatically, and the speaker has to sync his speech with the slide.
6 The crisis of political instability since the outbreak of the Egyptian revolution in 2011.
7 Giza belongs geographically to Cairo, and both of them are the most densely populated governorates in Egypt, with over 30% f the total population in Egypt (Worldometers, 2020).
8 Egyptian laws do not explicitly criminalize homosexuality, but it criminalizes any behavior or expression of any idea that is considered immoral, scandalous, or offensive to the religions (Mohamed, 2015, pp. 12-14).
- Quote paper
- Mohamed Abdelhady (Author), 2020, Digital Nomad Lifestyle in Dahab, Egypt. Current development on the job market, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/981143