Becoming a Digital Nomad in the Tech Industry

Find out everything you need to know to become a digital nomad with a tech job

Digital nomadism and remote working may be trending, but they're not exactly new. Both concepts already existed and were on the rise pre-pandemic. But with the summer of 2022 being pegged as the summer of 'revenge travel' they might be on your mind.

While remote work might not be the right fit for everyone, many discovered a work-life balance and freedom that they never thought possible, and you might be wondering if you can match Digital Nomad life with your dream tech career.

The short answer is...yes you can!

How has the pandemic changed how the tech industry thinks about work and presenteeism?

Before the pandemic, presenteeism was the norm. Most companies wanted employees to work in their office settings, even if they had no in-person meetings and spent the entire day coding. The reason? Most employers were afraid people wouldn’t get the work done if they weren’t there.

As governments forced an immediate shift to remote work, companies had no other choice than to make all the possible arrangements to keep the business running remotely.

The result? Employees kept getting their work done, but their production levels have also actually increased.

Why employees love going remote

Saving time and money on the commute, spending more time with the family, taking the dog for a walk between Zoom meetings, working out regularly, getting extra sleep, or being more productive are some of the most claimed benefits by employees.

Even though many people had already heard about remote work and digital nomads pre-pandemic, now they had the chance to try it for themselves and see how it worked for them. Despite a lockdown not being the ideal scenario for this, it was enough to give them a taste.

But employees aren’t the only ones perceiving the benefits of remote work; there are also many pros for the companies.

Why employers value remote workers

Besides the productivity increase, companies have been saving a lot of money on electricity, water, or office supplies by having their employees work off-site, not to mention their employees' productivity increases.

And there’s more! Many companies started saving a considerable sum on rent by reducing their current office space instead of paying thousands every month for a ghost town.

So while you may be seeing some of the larger tech giants calling their employees back to the office, many companies are still enjoying the benefits of a remote-first approach.

Is remote work here to stay?

Back in 2020, everybody thought remote work was here to stay. In 2021, many companies started calling their employees back to the office, which led to the Great Resignation in the USA. Many employees preferred to resign from their job instead of going back to the office. 

Why? Going through a global pandemic wasn’t easy peasy, and spending so much time on our own made us think about more profound existential questions and reevaluate what we were doing with our lives.

According to a Pew Research Center survey published earlier this year, low pay, the lack of opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons Americans quit their jobs last year.

However, not all companies have jumped into the bandwagon of having their employees back in the office five days a week. 

How many cool companies are offering fully remote positions?

Plenty! Airbnb recently announced that their employees are allowed to live and work from anywhere. Needless to say that over 800,000 people viewed their career page in the following days. 

Don’t worry if you can’t find the perfect position at Airbnb. Dropbox, Typeform, Lyft, Skillshare, Slack, and Spotify are some of the remote first companies.

Why? Companies that decide to transition some jobs from in-person to remote exponentially increase the talent pool size that they can hire from. They are no longer bound by its geographic limits to hire new talent.

Where can you find a remote tech job?

Now that geographic location is no longer a prerequisite for landing your dream job, you can land a graphic design job in the US while living in Europe or a cheaper location.

So, where can you look up remote job offers? It has never been easier to spot a remote position on LinkedIn. Also, job posting sites like Built-In, Otta, or MeetFrank are remote tech jobs oriented. 

Software Engineer, Web Developer, Web Designer, UX/UI Designer, Graphic Designer, Product Manager, Writer, and Digital Marketer are some of the most common remote tech job positions available.

Another option if you want to go fully remote is to go freelance. Check out how Ironhack alumna, Clémence de Robert, launched a fully freelance UX/UI design career.

What are the main benefits of being a digital nomad?

Say hello to finding a work-life balance, choosing where you want to work from, setting your working hours, selecting the projects you’ll be working on, increasing your income, travelling the world, or accomplishing life goals that have been on your bucket list for a long time.

This can be the perfect opportunity to move somewhere new and learn a new skill while working simultaneously. 

Check out our campus locations and apply for an Ironhack Bootcamp to launch your new digital nomad life. We’ll pair you with local companies hiring tech roles and introduce you to the latest local tech scene.

Can you imagine learning about UX/UI Design or Web Development in a vibrant city like Mexico City, São Paulo, or Berlin? It's a great way to start your digital nomad journey, by becoming part of a community and meeting local companies looking for remote talent just like you.

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What should you keep in mind if you want to become a digital nomad?

Digital nomadism has plenty of benefits, but it’s not all fun and games. Whether you’re travelling and discovering the city of your dreams, you’ll still need to do the work on any day. And there are a few more things to settle before you pack up your backup and go.

Before you leave home:

First, sort out your remote work option before you leave home. You're good to go if your current company has a ‘work from anywhere’ mindset. If that’s not the case, you’ll need to find a job at a company with such a mindset to secure your clients.

Second, check the time zone before booking your trip if your job involves many calls and if the area has reliable Wi-Fi. 

Get some travel insurance, as well as multiple debit and credit cards. Consider getting a VPN to keep your data private and investing in noise-cancelling headphones to maximise your focus.

Keep in mind that some countries are more receptive to digital nomads than others. While most people can get away with casually working while on vacation, you might need a special visa to work from a different country, especially if you’re planning to stay for more than a couple of months.

Once you arrive:

Commit to mental and physical daily routines as soon as you arrive at your destination. Don’t forget to set clear boundaries for when you work and when you go exploring. Otherwise, these two can collapse. And what’s the point of going somewhere new if all you’re going to do is work? 

Don’t head to a new city (or country) every other day or week. Consider spending weeks (if not months) in one place. 

Connect with local digital nomads and ex-pats or join a co-working space.

Will you have the same experience being a digital nomad anywhere globally?

Well, not exactly. Digital nomads often experience culture shock, even when travelling somewhere similar to their home country.

Anything you can do? Lookup for personal experiences shared by other digital nomads online, prepare yourself and avoid comparisons with your home country. Once you get there, embrace the differences and accept the process.

Being a digital nomad in Europe vs USA

Europe is an excellent destination if you want to work online while travelling. Many European countries offer a ‘digital nomad visa’ or ‘freelancer visa’. As there are some exceptions, gather information before making your travel arrangements.

Even though there’s a relatively common ground across European countries, each country has something unique. 

It’s not as easy to work as a digital nomad in the USA as in Europe, but it’s not impossible. You’ll have to apply in advance for the most suitable visa.

Being a digital nomad in LATAM vs Asia

LATAM and Asia are the most popular destinations for digital nomadism. For most digital nomads, these destinations offer a life quality that is impossible to achieve in their home country. 

From cheaper living costs and impressive natural settings to a rich culture and exquisite cuisine, it’s easy to understand why so many digital nomads choose countries like Thailand or Costa Rica to work. 

While applying for a visa in Southern Asia is more challenging than in LATAM, don’t let this condition your decision just yet. Do a lot of research, apply with plenty of time, and have some plan B (or C) up your sleeve.

What comes next?

You have all the information you need to plan your next life chapter. So what would happen if you were brave enough to take the leap?

But we hear you, there's still a lot of questions left unanswered, and you're probably still a little bit hesitant about starting a brand new adventure. We made our new series Wild Tech: Becoming a Digital Nomad especially to you.

Over the rest of the summer we'll be interviewing tech recruiters, remote work coaches, and digital nomads across the tech industry. They'll share their experience, top tips for making it as a digital nomad, and (hopefully!) inspire you to take that leap!

Check out Episode 1 and sign up to get future installments!

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