Marketing is one of a handful of corporate functions embracing the digital nomad lifestyle. The role is well suited to a location-independent way of life that entails working anywhere in the world at any given time. The key to making it successful is the very thing that makes remote work possible in the first place: technology. And, more specifically, video collaboration tools.
Whether part time or full time, more Americans are working remotely. According to Gallup, nearly 37% of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted for their job. That’s up from 30% last decade, and is four times greater than those telecommuting in 1995. A recent Polycom commissioned study showed 90% of businesses in the U.S. are offering or expanding their remote working options.
Telecommuting can be anything from working from home outside of office hours to working from home two, three or even five days a week. Still others are taking telecommuting to the extreme – traveling and working remotely as a way of life. Those individuals have been dubbed digital nomads.
One group of 75 digital nomads are undergoing a journey around the world together in an initiative called Remote Year. Over the course of a year, these people will visit 12 cities across 11 countries – while working remotely. Technology has been the essential driver for the creation of Remote Year.
According to the Remote Year website, “It has become clear that with ubiquitous connectivity, people no longer need to be physically together to get great work done… These two sweeping cultural shifts happening today, productivity moving to the cloud and the rise of the sharing economy, have culminated in Remote Year.”
Indeed, the Internet has made it possible to get work done nearly anywhere you can find decent connectivity. But successfully working around the world requires more than a reliable Internet connection. This Mashable article discusses the gadgets needed by the digital nomad to always remain in touch.
As a valuable, strategic asset for their companies, it’s important that digital nomads have the technical tools that enable them to engage and collaborate with their colleagues. Without these, it’s very easy to become your own silo – which isn’t good for you, your colleagues, or the company.
Remote Year participant Lindsay Daniels advises digital nomads to invest in technology. “When everything you do is on your laptop, tablet or smartphone, you want to make sure you invest in the latest and greatest. Apps like Slack, collaboration tools and video conferencing are also great ways to stay connected with your colleagues.”
In an email interview, we asked Daniels about her use of video collaboration tools. “While most people can actually complete the task of working remotely with access to Internet and basic collaboration tools like email, video conferencing is so important because it keeps me connected to my team and with customers on a different value. Even though we live in a digital world, I think there is still something to be said about the value of face-to-face relationships. When I can’t be there in person, video is the next best thing.”
As the senior corporate communications specialist at Polycom, Daniels is well accustomed to using video conferencing tools as part of her work everyday. “When I have meetings internally, 100% of my calls are done over video. At Polycom it is part of our culture and built into the way we work.”
Daniels admitted that it doesn’t make sense to use video for every meeting, and that some things can be achieved more efficiently via instant messaging or a quick voice call. Integrated collaboration solutions – like Microsoft Skype for Business and Polycom – allow Daniels to escalate a conversation that starts in instant messaging to a video call when the discussion would benefit from face-to-face communication.
“When it comes to conducting meetings, especially with multiple people, video is key,” she said. “Video conferencing allows me to be much more productive while working with my team, especially when it comes to collaborating on projects where we are creating new things together.”
The whole idea behind being a digital nomad is to work across great spaces but, at least for Daniels, the key to doing so successfully is to close that divide. “Video allows you to collaborate and work face-to-face as if you were in the same room as the people you work with,” she said. “Bottom line: Video collaboration is the best tool that allows me to work from anywhere, at any time, on any device.”