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Hiring a digital nomad: Benefits and challenges

There’s been a rapid rise in companies hiring remote workers and digital nomads over the last few years, and it’s likely that this trend won’t be stopping anytime soon. Studies show that the number of people who describe themselves as ‘digital nomads’ has risen by 49% between 2019 and 2020. The amount of digital nomads has been steadily increasing since then, and is projected to climb even higher as the time goes on.

But what is a digital nomad exactly, and what good would it do to hire them for your business? Keep reading to find out more about the definition, benefits, and solutions to some challenges of hiring digital nomads.

What is a digital nomad?

Digital nomads are a subgroup of remote workers that choose to live in (and work from) many different locations, instead of an office or their home. As a result of this nomadic lifestyle, they usually work in their current piece of residence; cafes, coworking spaces, –any place where they can access the internet, really.

The location-independent aspect of nomad life has been a deciding factor for many people who felt stuck working at offices or from their homes. This way, they get to travel, experience new places, participate in digital nomad events, and more while also being able to support themselves by working remotely.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The rise of COVID-19 has been a major factor towards changing work models and hiring practices, with many companies shifting towards the remote work model. According to Global Workplace Analytics’ research, during the pandemic, over 80% of US employees said they would continue to work from home at least once a week, with 18% saying they would like to work remotely full-time.

These statistics prove that, in addition to hybrid work models, businesses also need to develop  creative employment solutions that include hiring digital nomads. The pandemic has opened up people’s minds and created new opportunities towards onboarding independent professionals.

Benefits of hiring digital nomads

Now that you have a clearer grasp on what digital nomads are, you can start exploring the many benefits they can bring to your business. Here are some of the major perks of hiring digital nomads:

Reducing company costs

Hiring location-independent workers like digital nomads can reduce costs by a large margin.

For every digital nomad you hire, you’ll reduce the budget for your office; your rent would decrease if you move over to a smaller office; you’ll be able to save on costs of amenities like internet, electricity and water. Not to mention the added benefits you usually provide in-office employees, such as parking passes. Thanks to the ease provided by hiring digital nomads, if you’re starting a company, building an office space can be more of a ‘later down the line’ thought instead of a necessity.

Reaching international and specialized talents

The digital nomad community has an incredibly extensive talent pool, which includes people from all around the world with many different skills. You might need a talent with a very specific skill and sometimes, they can be very hard to find in a local talent pool or their scarcity might mean higher rates, which can be out of your budget. Broadening your horizons and getting away from the limitations of having to hire locally can ultimately help your business in the long run.

Another thing to note about hiring digital nomads is that they’re more likely to be well-versed in technology. You can even use their help in moving your business to the global stage.

Increased productivity

Hiring freelancers will help increase the productivity of your business. Getting used to hiring contract-based or short-term talents for specific projects can shorten their completion times by a mile, since their whole focus regarding your business will be their only focus.

Another reason why digital nomads can help boost your productivity is their independent thinking skills. With the autonomy that being a digital nomad provides, they will be freer to think out of the box and come up with more creative solutions to any problems regarding efficiency and productivity.

A more flexible schedule

This is especially important for international companies that aim to provide their services 24/7. One of the many advantages of hiring digital nomads is that you’ll be able to create a fuller working schedule, and get on top of most tasks faster.

The ability to divide tasks among people from different time zones and people with different expertises can also play a big role in solving time management issues.

Cultural diversity

There is clear data that some communities have been gravitating towards remote work. So, by hiring international talents, you might also get a chance to create diversity in the workplace.

There are many advantages of workplace diversity, such as the freshness and variety it’ll bring when it comes to new approaches and ideas. Your new hires might be able to come up with creative business solutions that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of.

An important point to note here is that, while hiring digital nomads brings a higher chance of increased diversity, you’ll still have to make conscious choices to support this yourself. And while hiring a more diverse range of talents, you should create an extensive company policy to be inclusive and respectful towards all identities.

Challenges of working with digital talents

In addition to the many benefits, there can also be some challenges that arise when hiring digital nomads. See our list of suggestions to solve them down below:

Communication

Effective communication can seem like a tough thing to manage while working with independent professionals. Dedicated online tools for project-based messaging, meetings, task management, etc. will be your best friends during this process.

The most important thing to remember here is to familiarize yourself with your staff, so you can know more about their wants and needs when it comes to remote communication. Keep close tabs on your talents’ schedules to create meetings on better times for them, for example. Ask for their opinions on other online tools to use, or different practices to apply when trying to manage your teams. After all, they’re the ones that will be working with those apps, so they should be able to use them effectively.

Payments and taxes

Another issue might be to figure out a secure and international platform to make payment to your talents. Third party service providers, like Ruul, can be utilized to quickly solve this problem. With Ruul, your freelancing digital talents can send you invoices, and you can make secure payouts in your chosen currency, while making sure you work with them in compliance.

Logistics

Having talents that are working remotely and internationally means that running your company will be highly dependent on your staff’s logistics. For example, you will have to factor in their internet access (or lack thereof), travel plans, time zone differences, etc.

Luckily, this is easy to manage when you stay on top of the schedules of your digital nomad staff. Most, if not all, of their trips and offline periods will be predetermined, and you’ll be able to come up with alternative schedules to accommodate them in time.

Of course, there might be some instances where some talents become unavailable without a plan due to network issues, travel delays, etc. Try to remember that these can happen to anyone at any time, not just to hiring digital nomads, and keep a solution-focused mindset.

Digital security

As a business that works with independent professionals, protecting sensitive company information is a valid concern. There will be many people within your employee network who have access to company data.

The most effective way to prevent security issues is to have a strict remote work policy and contract in place. Having your information contractually protected is the only way you can take legal action in case of data-related crimes. Regulate who can access potentially sensitive information, and specify what will be done in case of unpermitted access.

Moving forward with digital nomads

There will always be unique challenges to every business model, and hiring digital nomads is no different. What’s important here is to decide if the benefits outweigh the potential issues, and to create a solid plan to be able to solve said problems.

That said, your company could really benefit from the diverse candidates that hiring digital nomads can bring. Good luck on the rest of your international hiring journey!

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Ceylin Güven
Ceylin Güven likes reading anything she can get her hands on, writing poetry that’s way too personal, and watching Studio Ghibli movies.

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