Attracting Digital Nomads & Remote Workers
In this article we highlight the takeaways from two virtual events run by Island Innovation
The digital nomad and remote worker trend is going strong, and the popularity of people wanting to join them has been emphasised by the global pandemic. According to Island Innovation, 32% of employees surveyed said they would prefer never to return to the office following COVID-19 restrictions. We tuned into two Island Innovation’s virtual events to find out more.
The first, Adapting Tourist Destinations for Remote Workers & Digital Nomads, was an international event where we heard from some seasoned digital nomads and a few destinations around the world hoping to be the next big hubs for remote workers. The second, A New Vein for Economic Diversity, was a local panel event featuring three digital nomads living in Guernsey, Sark and Alderney and discussed the opportunities for attracting remote workers and digital nomads to the Bailiwick.
Let's clarify the terms - Someone who describes themselves as a Digital Nomad or Remote Worker can include:
- People who run digital first businesses that can be managed from anywhere in the world.
- People who have jobs which don’t require them to go into a physical premises.
Both have the flexibility to travel and live in different locations. Words like freedom, independence, technology, digital skills and privilege were highlighted in the event.
There is another nuance though, the difference between new digital nomads just starting out and seasoned digital nomads of 3+ years experience of travelling and working. This is an important distinction, as speakers in both events mentioned that what would appeal to one group, might not appeal to the other.
So, what do destinations need to be a successful place to attract digital nomads?
The more universal answers from the first event included:
- Good internet connectivity
- Friendly and welcoming community hub / co-working space
- Suitable accommodation
- Safe, low risk environment (especially in light of the pandemic)
- Accessible and speedy visa system
In the second Bailiwick focused event, Louise Croft, aka Digital Nomad Girl had this to say:
“One of the things we Googled when deciding whether to come to Guernsey was: ‘Does Guernsey have a coworking space?’ It is a huge factor for us because that is how we meet people. We arrive and we have no family, no friends, no connections, no local knowledge, so coworks are really important. And actually, I have to say that the Digital Greenhouse is one of the best ones we’ve been to. It’s not flashy, it doesn’t have mountain views or a pool, but it was so welcoming!”
Louise was one of three panelists on the virtual event, sharing her experience of being a seasoned digital nomad. She visited Guernsey with her husband for a couple of months in the summer and consequently decided to set up a permanent base here from which they can travel when the pandemic permits.
James Ellsmoor from Island Innovation posed the question:
“One thing that came out of the earlier conversation was the need for a ‘niche’ - digital nomads are still a broad group. What do you think Guernsey, Sark and Alderney can excel at?”
“I think that the Bailiwick would appeal to seasoned digital nomads, who would benefit from more of things Guernsey has to offer. Native english speaking, a good work/life balance, a good community of like-minded people, young families and people who can afford to live in Guernsey.”
What are the benefits for destinations?
Dominique Soulas, a digital nomad currently living in Sark, says that seasoned digital nomads can benefit the local economy because they stay for extended periods of time (3-6 months at a time) in short-term rental accommodation or AirBnbs. They spend money that is earned elsewhere on local activities and eating out.
“Digital nomads are different from tourists though as they integrate into communities by living in residential areas, using public transport, getting local sim cards, attending local events and developing local favourites.”
“There are many positives for attracting digital nomads and remote workers to somewhere like Guernsey. They interact with the local economy, looking for people to work with. They can encourage entrepreneurialism and digital first approach to business. We’ve been to countries where they have accelerator programmes or incubators and set-up companies, serving the local community and creating jobs in those locations.”
One of the major themes that kept being repeated is that of community. If a place has a friendly and welcoming community it can persuade digital nomads and remote workers to come, stay for longer and encourage others to join them, investing further in the local community, and in turn becoming more attractive to more people.
You can watch the full recordings of the events below. If you are interested in visiting our coworking space you can find out more here.