Digital nomads curate destinations and accommodation with meticulous care to balance their lifestyle with work requirements abroad. While they crave new adventures in foreign places, digital nomads also prioritize a successful career and productive working hours each day. But sourcing accommodation with the connectivity of a home office remains arduous.
The state of remote work
Earlier this year, Buffer surveyed 2,118 people from 16 different countries to get to grips with the current state of remote work. Do people subscribe to it? What are the benefits? Is it conducive to career progression? As it turns out, 97% of respondents recommend the lifestyle and hope to continue working remotely indefinitely. Among the top benefits is the flexibility to live where they choose – a reality for over 33% of respondents whose pay is not tied to a specific location.
By 2025, it is estimated that 22% of the US workforce will be fully remote. There’s little doubt that the remote work movement is here to stay, but what do the lifestyles of digital nomads really look like?
Who are digital nomads?
Far from the stereotype that conjures up images of people working part-time from a beach, digital nomads are high-earning, successful professionals. According to the membership platform Nomadlist.com, they are typically around 33 years old with established careers as developers, startup founders, marketers, creatives, and UX designers, among others. 90% hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher and earn on average over US$85,000 per year.
Largely from the United States and the United Kingdom, the majority of digital nomads are employed full-time and typically stay in one country for up to eight months. 60% of digital nomads work from a home office – managing their workload via a comfortable setting, a strict schedule, and a fast, reliable internet connection. They curate locations and accommodation with careful consideration to effectively maintain working relationships abroad, deliver against deadlines, and build a successful career. Outside of that, digital nomads indulge and immerse themselves in foreign cultures and new experiences to curate a life from which they don’t need a vacation.
“I can’t travel to places where there isn’t reliable Wi-Fi. Although I am having fun, I’m not on vacation – I’m working remote,” Riley Kovatch, digital nomad
The emergence of ‘slomads’
As the trend deepens and more countries open their doors to longer-term remote workers, digital nomads are increasingly choosing to travel slower and stay longer – giving rise to the term ‘slomad’, a lifestyle that is set to become the norm for this generation.
“This lifestyle is cultural immersion and connection – traveling slowly and working while balancing adventures,” Kristin Vierra, digital nomad
Longer stays intensify the focus on finding accommodation that supports a productive home office. As stated in a recent Forbes article, digital nomads aren’t necessarily interested in typical amenities like a pool or an entertainment center. They need fast Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, and laundry facilities.
According to digital nomad Riley Kovatch, it’s vital to stay put during the workday and rather travel after hours. Remote work requires a web of online platforms to remain connected, including work management software, company servers, video conferencing tools, and other collaboration technologies. Without it, work commitments are undermined and everything else falls by the wayside.
Seeking solid Wi-Fi
“When the Wi-Fi doesn’t work, it sends us straight into crisis mode. We’re unable to cancel the reservation and move to another place, so we have to go back-and-forth to co-working spaces or cafes to take our calls. These unforeseen additional costs soon add up,” added Kovatch.
So how do digital nomads navigate the murky waters of advertised versus actual internet performance?
For digital nomad Kristin Vierra, it comes down to checking reviews for positive mentions of Wi-Fi connection and speed, then messaging the host to confirm whether the Wi-Fi is suitable for working, and finally asking for a speed test. She also ensures she has a backup plan by the way of a nearby co-working space and a local data plan to tether.
However, current internet speed tests only measure the internet speed at a single point in time – it does not account for irregularities or changes in network load. And relying on the opinions of people with different connectivity needs has its obvious limitations. When your livelihood depends on it and cancellation policies do not accommodate Wi-Fi failures, it’s hugely problematic.
“Data about Wi-Fi is non-existent. I would absolutely pay a few extra for a reservation to have the peace of mind of a solid connectivity experience,” Riley Kovatch, digital nomad
The world’s first Wi-Fi verification platform
Speedy’s pocket-sized device monitors every aspect of a property’s internet performance. The data is translated into a real-time Wi-Fi speed and reliability rating which is embedded on property listing sites. Also fitted with a remote speed test button, the widget tells guests exactly what to expect from the Wi-Fi. Thanks to Speedy, prospective guests can now browse properties based on proven internet performance.
Each property’s device feeds into a web application that maps historic speed performance as well as the frequency, duration, and detailed diagnoses of outages. For the first time ever, property managers can now monitor their entire portfolio’s Wi-Fi performance through an intuitive dashboard and receive notifications as soon as a connection drops. Speedy catches outages before they turn into bad guest experiences.