Is a question that’s been on my mind for a long time, even before I went full-time remote. This is an attempt to summarize my thoughts and research on this topic, as well as the perspectives of other people I have talked about it with.
I believe this is going to be a world where work culture shifts drastically.
The following are some of the key factors in this change:
- Remote work becoming more accessible
- Digital nomadism becoming more common and socially acceptable
- A shift towards proactive generalists with less specialization needed in most jobs
Let’s discuss these factors one by one. Then at the end, I will talk about what I see as beneficial effects that might be brought about by these changes. As well as why it is something you should start preparing yourself for right now, even if you’re still unsure whether this kind of future is right for you (spoiler alert – it definitely is).
First off… What is remote work?
It’s when people choose to do their job without having to be in one specific location. It doesn’t matter if you’re a programmer, a writer, a designer, or any other professional – as long as your role requires some kind of work that can be done using a computer and an internet connection, it’s possible to do it remotely.
Here’s the kicker though: It isn’t just about choosing to have no physical office anymore. Because let’s face it… These days good deals on co-working spaces or serviced offices are available everywhere. There are also many AirBnB destinations providing private rooms for far less than half the price of a daily brunch at Starbucks.
It’s possible that by 2022 everyone with a stable internet connection would have access to some form of remote work opportunity. This trend will only continue to rise as companies realize they can hire great people even if they are not in their immediate vicinity. And with advancements in technology, it’s becoming easier for humans to communicate effectively across distance.
That’s why we can already see a tipping point that might make this trend – and all the benefits it brings along (more on that in a bit) – mainstream.
Remote work is not unique to tech jobs anymore. It has become much more common among writers, bloggers, online course creators, photographers, designers, and many other types of professionals as well. And now even established companies are starting to adopt this way of working as their new standard.
Another thing that is driving the remote work culture forward is digital nomadism. While the term ‘digital nomad’ has been around for decades… Decades ago there were very few people who could actually do it effectively because we didn’t have all the necessary tools available yet. But now – with the introduction of smartphones, reliable internet connections even on flights, and cloud-based software available anywhere in the world (without having to be downloaded) – it has become much more accessible.
You can literally work from anywhere there is an Internet connection. As long as you have your laptop and a good WiFi connection you can do what’s required of you for your job. The possibilities are endless! Most nomads say they even feel like they’re missing out when they pass through places like Dubai without staying at least a few days to explore their surroundings and hang out with other digital nomad friends.
What I find fascinating about this trend is that we rarely think about how many years it took us to get here. It seems almost obvious now, but it’s extraordinary when you think about how much of an impact this will have on our culture in the future.
A few decades ago the Internet was basically non-existent; we didn’t even know what cloud computing was… Now we can work anywhere with WiFi – practically for free.
It’s like when people were still using landlines to communicate (even though they could also technically do it through mobile phones) and then all of a sudden they got their first smartphone. It opened up an entirely new world for them that they never knew existed before. And while some things remained exactly the same, many others changed drastically because of its introduction.
You don’t have to work in an office anymore. You can choose to be location independent and constantly explore new destinations, meet interesting people from different cultures, and live your life on your own terms.
All you need is some discipline and self-control because as much as the digital nomad culture sounds like a dream come true… it certainly isn’t easy living out of a suitcase. But you know what they say: Nothing worthwhile ever comes easily.
As the world becomes more interconnected through technology, physical location won’t play as big of a role in determining how successful you are. It will take less time to get your ideas out there because the biggest bottleneck previously was ‘time’… But now all you need is an internet connection and apparently around two thousand bucks (that’s the cost of starting up Shopify stores these days). That’s it!
Just like many nomads who started their remote working journeys over the past few years, entrepreneurs can do the same with their businesses without having to worry about things like rent or high-priced salaries eating away at their meager profits in the early stages. They could start small and scale up quickly without having to worry about their overhead costs.
In the future, there will be self-made millionaires and billionaires who never had any formal education or experience in business other than doing it part-time while still working a day job. I personally know a few people like this myself.
If you have a good product or service, the only thing stopping you from succeeding is not believing in yourself enough. But if you can get past that one obstacle… And do what needs to be done step by step, everything else will take care of itself eventually because ‘urgency’ won’t be an issue anymore. You’ll basically have all the time in the world!
This climate is perfect for startups. Even the smallest of projects with the most basic of ideas can quickly become a reality because all you need is ONE talented person to make it happen. And if you don’t believe me, think about things like Kickstarter and crowdsourcing… They’ve definitely made their mark on society in such a short time.
And startups need generalists. Sure there are specialists out there, but the majority of successful entrepreneurs who didn’t go to college and built their empires from scratch were self-taught generalists. They knew a little bit about a lot of things – not even necessarily in any specific order – and took opportunities as they presented themselves instead of trying to force things to happen.
Generalists are more common among digital nomads who are always on the move. They don’t have time for in-depth learning because they’re too busy doing what needs to be done at any given moment, so they become masters of prioritization and task management.
I’m not saying that being a generalist is better than being a specialist when it comes to building your business. But I am saying that the future of work culture is trending towards more self-discipline, proactivity, adaptability, humility, empathy, creativity, and courage – instead of blind obedience to hierarchical structures or an inability to think outside the box since most problems are interdisciplinary in nature.
We all want freedom… But true freedom involves having no fear whatsoever. And with everyone trying to leverage flexible work arrangements and telecommuting, the future of work culture will definitely be more about self-discipline and proactivity (at least in my opinion) as opposed to blind obedience.
If you get one thing right, everything else will take care of itself eventually because success breeds success. And I think that’s how people should look at life these days. Focus on being productive every day and doing your best in whatever it is that you do, so when an opportunity comes knocking at your door, you’ll be in the right place at the right time to take advantage.
That’s pretty much the gist of it… But what do you think? Are we headed for a brighter future? Or should we be careful what we wish for because not everyone is cut out to live like this?