Digital nomads have changed the concept of work as we know it.

Most would credit Steve Roberts as the spark that literally started the digital diaspora in 1983, traveling across the US with his “computerized recumbent bicycle” while keeping a full-time writing career.

Twenty years later, with access to cheaper hardware, the launch of websites like Elance and Paypal, and guidance from early adapters like Tim Ferris through his book “The Four Hour Work Week” resulted to easier transactions for freelancers and clients alike.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The Perks

Being a Digital Nomad Comes with its Perks

Working remotely does come with its sweet rewards. As a wife and mother, working from home gives me the luxury of seeing my kid’s milestones while also giving me fulfilment as a professional.

  1. Learning opportunities – The mentorship I’ve gotten while working with extremely talented clients who give me direction and feedback about what I need to improve on have been indispensable. Collaborating with different professionals online has also exposed me to possibilities and ideas I would have never thought of myself.
  2. Location independence and mobility – Working remotely enables you to check out different places to work. Co-working spaces are also on the rise. Smartphones and mobile apps also enable you to keep in touch and update tasks while on the go. As long as there’s a stable internet connection and a power source, you’re ready to go.
  3. Schedule flexibility – The difference between working in the office from 9-5 and working at home is the schedule flexibility. Working remotely enables you to rearrange your priorities and schedule activities that could help you improve yourself and your family life.
  4. No more traffic blues – Ah, the dreaded commute. In just five years, traffic conditions have worsened, not to mention the weather conditions that also make the road unpredictable.  Being a digital nomad removes the stress of commute, and adds up to three hours to your schedule so you could do better things, like sleep.
  5. Becoming a Self-starter – Managing your time, setting up deadlines and determining your priorities can help make you a self-starter.

The Setbacks

The struggle is real. Photo not me.

While working remotely sounds like a walk in the park, it is definitely a far cry from it. Here are some of the issues we encounter that make working remotely a lot less fun.

  1. Distractions – I’ve been working as a freelancer for two years now, and it also took a while for my family to understand that working from home is STILL work. Plus having a toddler to take care of can cause mistakes, and I’ve made a lot. Setting schedules and creating rules at home did the trick, and now I’m able to manage my work better.
  2. Unstable internet connection – Being dependent on stable internet connection, I lose my mind when my ISP goes bonkers. Just recently, a cable was accidentally cut in our area, causing us to lose our phone lines for almost a week now. So now, I’ve been running around looking for coffee shops and places to crash while bickering with the phone company to get our connection up and running.
  3. Procrastination – Despite research claims that procrastination is good for creativity, it still is putting off things that need to be done. Finishing tasks on time builds character, and it helps to think that bills need to get paid, so you gotta work, work, work.
  4. Social media woes – It’s easy to lose focus with time-wasting websites like Facebook. Good thing though, there are apps like StayFocusd to keep you from browsing endlessly.
  5. Client relationships and haggling for fees – Negotiating for your rate can be intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out your freelancing career. It helps to assess your skills fairly in order to haggle for fair pay. At the end of the day, it’s still all about the Benjamins.

While digital nomads enjoy the freedom from the confined workspaces of traditional offices, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. As for me, it’s been an amazing journey so far. I am blessed to be a part of a team that encourages learning and growth and also believes in me and the things that I can do. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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Herlene Somook is a creative entrepreneur and freelance writer based in Manila, Philippines. A graduate of AB Psychology, she was a Kumon Reading teacher for five years before jumping ship to the Business Process Outsourcing Industry, where she gained experience in Inbound Sales, Technical Support, Outbound Services, Lead Generation and Marketing. Today, she spends her time as the Head Writer and Content Strategist for NextStep Hub. She loves reading bedtime stories to her toddler son.