Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Living and working in paradise: the rise of the 'digital nomad'

Fed up with spending the 9 to 5 in a stuffy office? Anna Hart packs her Mac and follows the trend for extreme remote working - in Bali 

Typing these words, my forefinger sticks sweatily to the trackpad. When I glance up from the screen, I see steam rising from the neighbouring paddy field. As with all workplaces, there’s a steady hum of white noise: coffee being brewed, group meetings peppered with jargon such as “touch base”, “reach out”, “loop back” and “incentivise”.
This is one of a rapidly increasing number of co-working spaces, where freelancers, sole traders and small companies rent desks and share printers and coffee machines. But even within that hip, fast-evolving realm, Hubud is an outlier – and its 250-strong community believes that this highly covetable office environment is the workplace of the future. The diversity of this group also signals another change: that more and more jobs are becoming portable, possible to do at a digital distance – not just web designers and freelance writers but fashion designers, photographers, models, marketers and even a remote-working GP.

As a freelance journalist, I have long been a convert to co-working spaces. I work from Netil House in Hackney, east London, where I share a studio with a jewellery designer, an arts curator and a photographer. Cycling to work, choosing my working hours and studio mates, I feel like I have got it pretty good, particularly compared to the years I spent working long, inflexible hours in a staff job. Or I felt good until I heard about Hubud. Because if going it alone in a co-working space is the first step towards freedom for the growing number of frustrated, ambitious young professionals, phase two is complete “location independence”; also known as “digital nomadism”.

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